Prior to each NBA season for the past few years I've ran a snapshot preview of each team, the playoffs and regular season awards. Here's my predictions for 2006-2007. Not so hot.
Most Valuable Player: LeBron James (original prediction), Dirk Nowitzki (actual winner)
Most pundits believed James would win his first MVP last season. He certainly had the personal numbers (27.3/6.7/6.0), but the Cavs failed to establish the type of winning voters now view as mandatory in order to receive this honor. That being said, Nowitzki (24.6/8.9/3.4) was the best player on the best team (in the regular season) and certainly a worth recipient.
Rookie of the Year: Brandon Roy, Brandon Roy
Despite missing over 20 games due to injury, the rookie from Washington ran away with the award. Averaging 16.8/4.4/4.0 per game, Roy has established himself as a rising star. Toronto's Andrea Bargnani also had a very productive first campaign.
Defensive Player of the Year: Ron Artest, Marcus Camby
Camby, healthy for the first time in a long time, dominated the paint for Denver. Marcus averaged nine defensive rebounds, three blocks and a steal per contest.
Sixth Man of the Year: Shaun Livingston, Leandro Barbosa
Livingston suffered a horrific knee injury midway through the year, but even a healthy Shaun wouldn't have challenged Barbosa. It was a two-man battle between Barbosa and San Antonio's Manu Ginobli. In the end voters sided with Leandro's instant offense off the bench, which did little to diminish the attack established by incumbent PG Steve Nash.
Most Improved Player: Darko Milicic, Monta Ellis
Monta matured from a decent bench player to potential scoring superstar in one season. His scoring average for 06-07 increased by ten points to 16.5. Ellis also managed to snag 1.7 steals and dish out 4.1 assists per game.
Executive of the Year: Carroll Dawson, Bryan Colangelo
Colangelo, a former Suns exec, brought the same type of Phoenix high-powered offense up north. Acquiring Bargnani, TJ Ford, Anthony Parker and Jorge Garbajosa gave the Raptors pieces to contend for many years to come.
In the Eastern Conference Miami and Milwaukee. Injuries ravaged both organizations, but the Heat still managed to make the playoffs. Once it became apparent the Oden-Durant sweepstakes was the real offseason prize, non-playoff teams started vigorously tanking. Detroit should've ran away with the best-record in the conference but mediocre coaching kept them within the pack.
In the Western Conference it was business as usual. Dallas, Phoenix and San Antonio exerted themselves as the cream of the NBA crop. As expected, Houston and Utah rebounded to make the playoffs while the LA Clippers returned to reality - and the draft lottery. Golden State, led by its first-year coach Don Nelson, was the surprise story of the season.
Somehow I always manage to forget about Division implications in the playoffs - such as how each Division winner is guaranteed a top-3 seed in the first round. My brackets were screwy to say the least. Regardless, I did not expect Miami and Dallas to be both eliminated in the first round. I actually predicted the Heat defeating the Spurs in the NBA Finals.