The NBA season hasn't been all about guns, ammo and Tyrus Thomas trade rumors. Here are the Daily Herald NBA awards at the all-star break:
MVP: LeBron James, Cavs. The puppet wars might continue for a few more years with James and Kobe Bryant standing out as the league's most dominant players. The Cavs' record and Bryant's injuries give the nod to James so far this season.
Runners up: Bryant, Kevin Durant, Thunder; Dwight Howard, Magic; Carmelo Anthony, Nuggets.
Coach of the year: Mike Woodson, Hawks. I don't know about everyone else, but I've been waiting for the Hawks to plateau for two years and it hasn't happened. It's rare to see an NBA team keep getting better with so many young players.
Runners-up: Jerry Sloan, Jazz; Scott Brooks, Thunder.
Rookie of the year: Tyreke Evans, Kings. Back in November, it seemed as though Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings couldn't be beat. But since then, Jenning's once outlandish 3-point percentage reverted to normal levels and Evans has been solid.
Runners-up: Jennings, Stephen Curry, Warriors.
Most improved: Joakim Noah, Bulls. This is a pretty good race between Noah and a couple of Houston Rockets. A solid case can be made for all three. Noah went from 6.7 points and 7.6 rebounds last season to 11.2 and 12.0 this year.
Rockets point guard Aaron Brooks has become a star in his third NBA season with 19.4 points and 4.9 assists, up from 11.2 and 3.0. Houston power forward Carl Landy isn't a great rebounder, but the former Purdue star raised his scoring average from 9.2 to 16.3 points.
Sixth man award: Jamal Crawford, Hawks. This is a two-man race between Crawford, averaging 17.8 points and Houston power forward Carl Landry, who is contributing 16.3 points and 5.5 assists. Crawford has an edge because he's in position to break a personal 10-year run of never making the playoffs.
Runners-up: Landry, Jason Terry, Mavs.
Defensive player of the year: Dwight Howard, Magic. Sure, he can knock all-star point guards on their butt with the best of them. By leading the league in rebounds and blocks, Howard appears headed for his second straight win in this category.
Runners-up: Josh Smith, Hawks; Rajon Rondo, Celtics.
Best gamble: (tie) Stephen Jackson, Bobcats, and Zach Randolph, Grizzlies. Both have a history of causing trouble, but Jackson may lead Charlotte to its first playoff berth, while Randolph is an all-star.
Runners-up: Shaquille O'Neal, Cavs; Ron Artest, Lakers.
Worst acquisition: Ben Gordon, Pistons. Injuries have been a huge problem in Detroit this season, but it's tough to say the Pistons got a good return by giving Gordon a contract worth $11.5 million per year. Detroit has been a huge disappointment with an 18-33 record.
Runners-up: Richard Jefferson, Spurs; Randy Foye, Wizards.
All-NBA first team: LeBron James, Cavs; Kevin Durant, Thunder; Dwight Howard, Magic; Kobe Bryant, Lakers; Dwyane Wade, Heat.
All-NBA second team: Carmelo Anthony, Nuggets; Dirk Nowitzki, Mavs; Chris Bosh, Raptors; Chris Paul, Hornets; Joe Johnson, Hawks.
All-NBA third team: Tim Duncan, Spurs; Pau Gasol, Lakers; Chris Kaman, Clippers; Rajon Rondo, Celtics; Derrick Rose, Bulls.