Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The second season

I used to think it was an exaggerated way to describe the playoffs. After all, its the same players and teams, they're just trying harder. But seeing things play out so far its hard to ignore the huge differences between the two. I'm a believer now, the playoffs aren't just a higher stakes continuation of the regular season, its an entirely different animal. For evidence lets review some regular season award winners:

MVP: Dirk Nowitzki

Defensive Player of the Year: Marcus Camby

Most Improved Player of the Year: Monta Ellis

Coach of the Year: Sam Mitchell

Sixth Man of the Year: Leandro Barbosa

How have these fine hardware collectors fared in the unregular season? Its not so pretty:

Dirk had a historically rough first round and the way some people freaked out, you'd think he was atrocious (just my opinion: he was bad, but not as bad as the hype would have you believe, sort of the basketball version of Gigli. It seemed to me his team just ran into a hot team, and a Boom-Dizl, that his team couldn't match up with. Heavy lies the MVP crown. )

Anyways, comparing his Roland Rating at 82games.com, there's that big statistical drop from a +15.7 regular season rating to a +9.6 rating in the playoffs. Ouch.

Defensive Player of the Year:
Another regular season prize winner, another first round playoff exit. Camby's regular season Roland Rating of +4.4 dropped to +1.3 in the playoffs. Its interesting to note that both Camby and Dirk both posted significantly higher averages in one area, rebounds (Dirk was +2.4 in the playoffs, Camby was +3.1).

Most Improved:
Monta had the biggest drop in Roland Rating (+1.1 reg season to -9.6 playoffs). He's not the battle tested veteran that Dirk and Camby are, so maybe the difference between the two seasons is magnified even more.

Coach of the Year:
We were all excited about seeing the Raps team in the playoffs, but Sam was working with players who had a breath-taking lack of second-season experience (especially when compared to the team they were facing). It showed.

Sixth Man:
I always cheer for players that seem to play the game with some uniqueness. Barbosa comes in and makes you think you're watching something straight from an X-Men movie. While he hasn't been horrible in the playoffs (and with some key players gone, I'm giddy for Barbosa Blowuptuation in Game 6), his Roland Rating has also dipped from a +4.9 regular season to a +3.8 in the playoffs.

Seeing these drop-offs, I think I have to start using that "second season" phrase. That says something when the best of this bunch is someone who's productivity has only dropped a little. Maybe they should have another round of awards for the second season (although in fairness, Luol Deng would still contend for the Sportsmanship Award).

UPDATE: I'm watching Monta Ellis ruin everything I've said. Still, he had a bad first round, maybe he just needed a little adjustment time.

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