Man, it's been a whirlwind of a first half of the season! Thankfully there has been no shortage of great storylines so far. From Chris Paul jelling with Blake Griffin to Jeremy Lin taking centerstage in New York City, the 2011-12 season has been one of the most exciting in recent years. With NBA All-Star Weekend coming up, it's time to make sense of all the madness. Here are my midseason awards:
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
LeBron James, Miami Heat
With co-superstar Dwyane Wade saddled with injuries for much of the season, James has carried the Heat to the NBA's best record (26-7). He is averaging 27.6 points*, 8.1 rebounds, and 6.8 assists a game. James is clearly the NBA's best all-around player.
MLP (Most Linsane Player)
Jeremy Lin, New York Knicks
The feel-good story of the year — heck, the past few years — Lin has stepped into the spotlight for the New York Knicks, helping the team overcome injuries and a poor start to the season. In ten starts the 23-year-old point guard has averaged 23.8 points and 9.4 assists a game.
Rookie of the Year
Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves
It was a close call between Rubio and Cleveland Cavaliers rookie point guard Kyrie Irving. I chose Rubio because of the impact he has had in turning a T-Wolves team into a playoff contender. Rubio is a once-in-a-generation passer who makes his teammates better. His 8.4 assists per game are best among rookies and fifth overall in the NBA — ahead of stars such as Deron Williams and Derrick Rose.
Most Improved Player
Kyle Lowry, Houston Rockets
Lowry has blossomed in his sixth NBA season. He's filling up the stat sheet with a career high 15.6 points, 7.6 assists, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.0 steals a game. The scary part: The 6-foot point guard still has room to improve, especially as an outside shooter and ball-handler.
Coach of the Year
Doug Collins, Philadelphia 76ers
Look at the Sixers roster. It's not very impressive — guard Louis Williams leads the team in scoring with a mere 15.6 points per game. But look further and you'll see that six players average double digits in scoring. And most important: the Sixers were in first place in the Atlantic Division with a 20-14 record. Credit Coach Collins for getting this group to gel.
*All stats through February 23.