Column: Handing out the only NBA awards that matter

Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles (2) attempts to pass around Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, April 10, 2018, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Alex Goodlett)

The NBA season draws to a close tonight. Which means this is the time of the year when every media outlet all explain why James Harden is the MVP but try to find a different 500 words to do so.

Instead of boring you with all that, I’m going to hand out my own awards. Awards that are more personable and therefore are worth more.

Most insane storyline: Everything Kawhi Leonard

For the last two decades the Spurs have been one of the most tight-lipped and well-run organizations in sports. Which is why every turn in the Kawhi Leonard saga just got more and more strange.

It started out as a supposed minor injury that would make him maybe miss the first couple days of the NBA season. Leonard briefly returned in December but was soon back on the shelf as rumors swirled that he wanted out of San Antonio, he was clashing with team doctors and that teammates had been desperately trying to force him back.

Barring an unlikely return in the playoffs, the questions and rumors are only going to continue into the summer. For the first time in two decades, it looks like things aren’t all sunshine and rainbows in San Antonio.

Most asinine controversy: Is Ben Simmons a rookie?

Somehow, the most heated debate of this season has become the question of who deserves Rookie of the Year more: Ben Simmons or Donovan Mitchell?

This is strange, because Ben Simmons has the superior stats and is on the superior team. The argument seems to be that Simmons shouldn’t be considered a rookie. Which is strange because I’m looking at his Basketball Reference page right now and it shows he didn’t play last season. Of course, he was drafted last year but Blake Griffin also missed what should have been his rookie season with an injury only to win it the next season.

Even though he was technically already an NBA player, there’s no way we can count last season as his rookie year. After all, if you go to Disney World and you break your spine as soon as you walk through the ticket booth and you’re forced to sit and watch your family ride all the rollercoasters without you, you wouldn’t really say you’ve experienced Disney have you?

The person most responsible for giving me the emotional strength and willpower to get out of bed in the morning: Brad Stevens

For Celtics fan, this season has been as tough as one could be while still finishing with a two seed.

It started on opening night when Gordon Hayward’s ankle bent like a Bop-It. It immediately ruined any chance the Celtics’ had of lifting the Larry O’Brien trophy this season. However, Stevens still guided the Celtics to the second seed in the Eastern Conference, at one point rattling off 16 straight wins. Boston did all this with Kyrie Irving missing for long stretches and over 20 missed games from key role players like Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris.

Throughout it all was the stoic and wildly handsome Brad Stevens. Leading guys like Terry Rozier to triple-doubles and guiding improbable comeback after improbable comeback. So here’s to Brad Stevens, the only stable thing I have in my life right now.

The player I spent the most time watching highlights of on YouTube during class: Joe Ingles

Were you expecting someone else?

Joe Ingles is the most electric player in the NBA. I went saw the Jazz when they came to Boston last year and watching Jinglin’ Joe warmup was a religious experience on par with seeing Jesus move that boulder on the third day.

There’s something sublime about watching a man who looks like my high school English teacher pull up from deep and make fools out of NBA defenders. It’s like watching every middle-aged guy I’ve ever played pick-up with at the local YMCA but if you gave them the super soldier serum from Captain America.

Joe Ingles has poured in 935 total points for the Jazz this season along with 391 assists and I’ve seen every single one.

An injured player we most desperately missed: DeMarcus Cousins  

When Boogie Cousins went down with an Achilles injury in late January, it not only crippled the Pelicans but it robbed NBA fans. The pairing of him and Anthony Davis had the chance to be the greatest frontcourt duo since Tim Duncan and David Robinson

Not to mention, watching Cousins react to egregious foul calls against him or not get back on defense when he doesn’t get a call, are some of the most fun things to watch that don’t strictly involve basketball.


Bryan Lambert is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at bryan.lambert@uconn.edu.