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The Times' NBA awards

The Times' Ben Bolch makes his selections for the best and worst in the league. LeBron James is chosen as the NBA's best player, while DeSagana Diop is the worst.

April 13, 2013|By Ben Bolch
  • Miami Heat forward LeBron James fades into the dark during team introductions before a game against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Miami Heat forward LeBron James fades into the dark during team introductions… (Robert Duyos / MCT )

To loosely paraphrase Newton's laws of motion, for every NBA postseason award there is an equal and opposite honor.

So in addition to LeBron James as the game's best player, may we humbly submit DeSagana Diop as its worst?

The Charlotte Bobcats center has somehow appeared in 22 games this season, making one start, despite averaging 0.7 points and making a robust 29.6% of his shots. If he played 36 minutes per game at his current production level, he would still average only 2.5 points.

They say you can't teach height, but can you at least show a 7-footer how to dunk?

James may need instructions on where to house his latest most-valuable-player award, given that his trophy case is getting crowded.

The Miami Heat star's fourth MVP award should be his first unanimous selection considering the distance he has put between himself and contenders Kevin Durant, Tony Parker, Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant.

James is easily having his best season by becoming an efficiency expert, making a career-high 56.5% of his shots as well as 40.3% of his three-pointers. He is the top player on the league's top team, and it isn't even close.

Here, for your consideration, are our other award winners (along with their alter egos):

Coach of the year: Tom Thibodeau, Chicago.

Thibodeau has made something out of nothing, like MacGyver constructing a bomb out of a stick of chewing gum.

The Bulls are bound for the playoffs despite being without Derrick Rose for the entire season and Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich, Richard Hamilton and Taj Gibson for extended stretches.

Imagine what Thibodeau might have been able to do with the Lakers.

Interim coach of the year: P.J. Carlesimo, Brooklyn.

This took some doing, eclipsing Bernie Bickerstaff's remarkable five-game run with the Lakers. But Carlesimo deserves the honors, having survived the coach-killer that is Deron Williams while steering the Nets to the playoffs.

If the Nets aren't smart enough to make him a permanent coach, someone else surely will.

Rookie of the year: Damian Lillard, Portland.

The 22-year-old point guard already possesses a veteran's poise, prompting Bryant to gush about his talent after Lillard dropped a career-high 38 points on the Lakers on Wednesday.

"It wasn't a game where he was just hot," Bryant said. "The moves, the patience, the intelligence, the balance on the jumpers, he's the real deal."

Veteran of the year: Jason Kidd, New York.

Sure, life at 40 in the NBA isn't always perfect. Kidd lost his starting job in late February and his production continues to dwindle, but there have been more than a few moments when the creakiness subsides.

Kidd looked plenty spry in hitting three three-pointers in the first quarter last week to help the Knicks beat Oklahoma City, and he has been a steadying presence in his team's first division title in 19 years.

Sixth man of the year: J.R. Smith, New York.

This one was close. The Clippers' Jamal Crawford seemingly had this award locked up two months ago before a string of prolific performances by Smith nudged him ahead.

Plus, Smith's team has overachieved while the fading Clippers have nearly squandered home-court advantage for the first round of the playoffs.

Thirteenth man of the year: Robert Sacre, Lakers.

You've heard of the Laker Girls.

Now meet the Laker Guy, the team's head cheerleader and de facto mascot who leaps off the bench and wildly flails his arms whenever his teammates make a highlight-caliber play.

The backup center is decent on the court, too, making him surprisingly relevant for someone who was the final pick of the 2012 draft.

Most improved player: Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia.

Holiday's enhanced court vision and playmaking abilities have helped him nearly double his assists average from last season while making him a first-time All-Star.

He also became an elite scorer, something the 76ers desperately needed after Andrew Bynum tossed his season into the gutter.

Most deteriorated player: Kris Humphries, Brooklyn.

At least Humphries has been consistent.

He was a no-show for a recent divorce settlement hearing with Kim Kardashian in Los Angeles after being a no-show with the Nets all season.

The forward who made a breakthrough last season while averaging a double-double has rapidly backpedaled over the last six months, averaging 5.5 points and 5.6 rebounds.

Humphries has unintentionally become his own sad reality TV show.

ben.bolch@latimes.com

Twitter: @latbbolch

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