The NBA regular season is over and the league is tallying votes for all of its major awards like MVP, Coach of the Year, and Sixth Man. But here at OG, we like to present a different batch of awards in eccentric categories like Fantasy Stud, Seventh Man of the Year, Most Overrated (MOP), Clown Coach of the Year, Aussie Mate of the Year, Best Trade, Buzzer Beater of the Year, and much more.
Shortly before the All-Star Break, we presented OG’s NBA Midseason Awards, which were a huge success. So, during the lull in between the end of the regular season and the start of the postseason, it’s time to honor or lampoon the best and worst of the 2021-22 NBA season.
Fantasy Stud: Nikola Jokic
Nikola Jokic, the one-man wrecking crew from the Denver Nuggets, is on the verge of winning back-to-back MVP awards. If you play fantasy basketball, you were pumped if you drafted Jokic. He led the league with a 32.94 PER rating. He was the sixth-best scorer (27.1 ppg), second-best rebounder (13.8 rpg), and ranked #8 in assists (7.9 apg) as a big man.
Most Overrated Player (MOP): LeBron James
We named Kristaps “Unicorn” Porzingis as the Most Overrated Player (MOP) in OG’s Midseason Awards. It’s a close race for the year-end version between the Unicorn and LeBron James. LeBron missed out on a scoring title at 37-years old, which seems impressive for someone his age. However, that’s sort of a selfish pursuit. If he’s the so-called GOAT, then why was he unable to at least lead the Lakers to a playoff berth. Heck, the Lakers were so bad that they bubbled the play-in tournament.
WTF Guy of the Year: Desmond Bane
Who the f–k is Desmond Bane? Bane, the second-leading scorer on the Memphis Grizzlies, is the best player you’ve never heard of. Bane, a late first-round draft pick out of TCI in 2020, had a sensational sophomore season averaging 18.2 ppg or nine points more than his rookie campaign. He also shot 43.6% from 3-point range. Ja Morant gets a ton of credit, but Bane is also one of the reasons why the Grizzlies posted the second-best record in the NBA.
Aussie Mate of the Year: Josh Giddey
We love basketball players from Australia ever since Luc Longley made a name for himself with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s. Josh Giddey, a rookie from the Oklahoma City Thunder, is the Aussie Mate of the Year. If he played for a big-market team, he would have been in the top two to win Rookie of the Year. The Thunder caught a lot of guff for wasting a draft pick on Giddey with the #6 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. However, Giddey was a steal after averaging 12.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game as a teenager. He made NBA history as the youngest player to record a triple-double, and set another as the youngest player with back-to-back triple-doubles. If he starts hitting his 3-point shots, he’ll become an All-Star.
Sniper of the Year: Luke Kennard
Luke Kennard from the LA Clippers led the NBA by knocking down 44.9% of his 3-point shots. Two-thirds of his total shots this season were from beyond the arc. He also led the Cardiac Clippers to a comeback win on a clutch 4-point buzzer-beater.
Seventh Man of the Year: Immanuel Quickley
The first guy off the bench gets a lot of recognition, but it’s time to give the second guy off the bench a bit of the spotlight. Immanuel Quickley from the New York Knicks played an important role as a member of the Knicks’ second unit. There were times this season when the second unit outplayed the starters. Quickley was the point guard and floor general for the Knicks bench mob. He ended the year on a positive note with a 34-point triple-double and one heck of an audition for why he should be the starting point guard next season.
Top Milestone: Gregg Popovich
Steph Curry passed Ray Allen to take over first place on the 3-point shooting list, and LeBron James moved into second on the NBA all-time scoring list, but neither milestone compared to Gregg Popovich. Pops broke Don Nelson’s record (1,355 wins) for most victories as a head coach. The coolest and craziest thing about the record was the simple fact that Pops recorded all those wins with the same team, the San Antonio Spurs.
Best Trade: CJ McCollum to Pelicans
It was weird to see Portland Trail Blazers break up the dynamic duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. The Blazers kept Lillard, but imploded their squad. They traded McCollum to the New Orleans Pelicans, which would have felt like an exile a few seasons ago, but things were so bad in Rip City that New Orleans was a vast improvement. McCollum helped the Pelicans qualify for the play-in tournament as a ninth-place team. In 26 games with the Pelicans, McCollum averaged a career-best 24.3 points and 5.8 assists per game while shooting 39.4% from downtown.
Worst Trade: Russell Westbrook to Lakers
The Lakers gave up several key role players like Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to acquire Russell Westbrook in a trade. They foolishly thought that Westbrook would help them secure another championship. The chemistry was awful, Westbrook couldn’t play a lick of defense, and LeBron’s stint as a shadow general manager blew up in his face. The Lakers scapegoated head coach Frank Vogel, but that still doesn’t change the brutal reality: the Lakers are stuck with Westbrook’s albatross of a max-contract and it will be nearly impossible to deal him in the offseason.
Best Troll of the Year: Westbrick
Westbrook was never the best outside shooter, but he went through an awful slump when trade rumors burrowed deep inside his head. Westbrook shot so poorly that fans were calling him “Westbrick,” which irked him so much that he complained about it in multiple interviews. He had to keep his kids from attending games to not get triggered by the new moniker. And those were home games in LA. Road games were even more vicious.
Paper Mache Award: Zion Williamson
Anthony Davis should get this award because he earns a max contract and missed more games (42) than he played (40). Last season, he appeared in only 36 out of 72 games. He got paid $35.3 million this season, and $32.7 million last season. He earned $68 million in the last two seasons, but the Lakers wasted $34 million paying him to sit on the bench in street clothes.
Zion Williamson broke his foot last summer during offseason workouts. He underwent surgery, but he had a slow and painful recovery. He didn’t play a single game this season and alienated teammates and the organization with his aloof behavior and no-shows. Unlike Davis, Zion didn’t even bother to sit on the bench to support his teammates. He was living in Portland while rehabbing his foot.
Buzzer Beater of the Year: DeMar DeRozan
Chicago Bulls All-Star DeMar DeRozan had back-to-back buzzer-beaters in consecutive games. The first one occurred on New Year’s Eve and helped the Bulls end 2021 on a high note after DeRozan drilled a 3-pointer to defeat the Indiana Pacers by two points. On New Year’s Day, DeRozan hit another trey at the buzzer to lift the Bulls over the Washington Wizards.
🚨 BUTTER at the BUZZER 🚨
— NBA (@NBA) December 31, 2021
Clown Coach of the Year: Tom Thibodeau
What a difference one season makes. Last year, the NYC hooperati feted Thibs as the toast of the town as he led the Knicks to the #4 seed in the Eastern Conference. This season, the Knicks returned to their usual place in the gutter. Thibs started the wrong guys, exiled fan-favorite Kemba Walker to the end of the bench, and stuck with an atrocious Julius Randle — who should have been benched instead of Walker. The worst part of all of this drama is that the Knicks are sticking with Thibs for another season.
Biggest Bust: Julius Randle
Here’s a perfect segue to rail against Julius Randle. The Knicks’ second unit runs an exciting and free-flowing offense where they share the ball in an up-tempo manner. However, the starters run a boring and stagnant offense, because the antiquated ISO possessions run through Randle. He bleeds the shot clock and takes his man one-on-one while four other guys stand around waiting for him to finally shoot.
Randle went from a lo-fi MVP candidate in 2020-21 to an utter bust in 2021-22. He declined in points (24.1 ppg to 20.1 ppg), assists (6.0 per game to 5.1), and all three shooting categories (down 4.5% FGs, down 11.1% in 3-pointers, down 5.5% in FTs). The 3-point shooting gave Knicks fans migraines, especially when he stood around and dribbled for half the possession before taking an off-balance trey. Randle sniped a career-high 41.1% last season, but he shot an abysmal 30.8% from downtown this season.
Check out OG’s NBA Midseason Awards.