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Your 2012 NBA MVP…

…is so obvious that even the most delusional Cleveland Cavaliers fan would have to agree.

LeBron James is The Great Mambino’s Most Valuable Player for 2012.

Let’s all deal with the reality that LeBron is the best player in the game today. He has yet to exercise his postseason 4th quarter demons, but such a limitation is merely a blip on the radar when compared with the faults of his superstar peers. 27 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block a game only START the conversation. His numbers are more spectacular than ever: he’s shooting a career-high 53% from the field and a career-high 36% from downtown.

His advanced metrics are even further off the charts. Even with a usage rate of almost 32%, King James places in the top 10 in the following categories:
-Win Shares (his 4th consecutive 1st place finish)
-Offensive Win Shares (2nd)
-Defensive Win Shares (2nd)
-Effective Field Goal Percentage (7th)
-Defensive Rating (7th)
-Offensive Rating (8th)
-True Shooting Percentage (8th)

So what more is there left to say?

Nothing, really. LeBron James may have to prove to the world that he can win an NBA title, but as far as the regular season goes, there is no player more valuable to his team. So, for your enjoyment, a compilation of 2012 NBA clips featuring The King (not you, Curtis):

But just in case you wanted to know who our MVP runners-up were, they go like this:

2. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
3. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
4. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
5. Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves


And so comes the end of our 2012 NBA Mambinos. In case you missed it, check out our other winners:

All-Rookie Teams
All-Defensive Teams
Coach of the Year picks
All-NBA Teams

MAMBINO’s All-NBA Teams for the 2012 Season

All-Star Games in any league are really easy targets for in-season buzz. Right in the middle of a long haul of 82 or 162 games, any All-Star contest is usually the most obvious metric for any fan to point to as an indicator of a man’s success on the field, ice or the court. Right after the MVPs, championships and Hall of Fame accolades, your favorite star athlete is going be be qualified by how many All-Star Games he’s been selected to.

To me, this always seemed like such a strange measurement of success. Why is it that we’re using an award that’s given to a player for only a half-season of work to determine how successful they’ve been their entire careers? Sure, Kareem made 19 All-Star teams not because he was only a 1st half performer, but because he’s one of the greatest of all-time. But then you have a guy like Rajon Rondo having a stellar first half last year and making the All-Star team,  watching his FG% drop 7 points and his assists go from 12 a game to 9 in the 2nd half. So at the end of the day, did Rondo have an All-Star year? No. So that’s why we have All-NBA teams.

All-Star selections are nice, but 1st, 2nd or 3rd team All-NBA is where the real prestige is at. We here at MAMBINO HQ polled our distinctive panel of NBA hoop-nerds and came up with our team selections. If you disagree, please leave a comment and tell us how dumb we are. I guarantee a shot back by BockerKnocker, and where he’ll undoubtedly and inappropriately attack your family or something. 

1st Team:
G-Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers (unanimous)
G-Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
F-LeBron James, Miami Heat (unanimous)
F-Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder (unanimous)
C-Andrew Bynum, Los Angeles Lakers

KOBEsh: While I’m utterly disgusted that my colleagues would befoul our All-NBA teams by not putting Kobe on the 1st team, I’ll be the first to admit that the time is approaching rapidly, if it’s not here already. The two young twenty-somethings, Durant and Westbrook, crack the All-NBA 1st Team in tandem for the first time, and deservedly so.

I’ve watched every team in the league this year, multiple times thanks to NBA League pass, which has not only taken money out of my wallet, but spare time out of my nights and faith from my girl that I can ever be a good boyfriend. There is no team that has two offensive threats that put more pressure on a defense than Westbrook and Durant. Wade/LeBron, Pau/Kobe, Randolph/Gay, CP3/Blake, Melo/Amar’e and yes, even Biyombo/Kemba don’t raise the same type of discomfort in my heart when they’re on the court opposing another team. Though different type of players, both men are deadly with the ball in their hands, whether it’s putting up an extremely difficult jump shot you know they’ll make or driving to the hoop and weaving around defenders no matter how much guile and strength they play with. On top of everything else, Durant has turned himself into a solid rebounder (8.0 per game), and both are very good, athletic defenders that rarely lose their assignments or make silly mistakes.

Other than LeBron, there’s no other guy in the league that change the game more on both ends of the floor per 48 minutes more than Durant and Westbrook. They’re that good.

If you watched the 1st round playoff match-up between the Lakers and the Hornets last year, you could have seen this coming; Chris Paul is back to where he was before his knee injury a few years ago, and showing everyone why he’s the best point guard in the league. MorRead more...

MAMBINO’s NBA Coach of the Year

Everyone talks about how the criteria for Most Valuable Player in any sports league has such nebulous criteria for its winner. What makes a person more valuable than another? How do you measure “value”? What makes “value” in the first place? Is it raw skill? How much he helps his team win? The intangibles of his leadership? Or is it a combination of all of those answers? But to what extent does each of those factors weigh? The MVP is such a tricky award, and why the debates every year are more mercilessly available than Bobcats front row tickets.

This is actually the award trophy. It looks like Dora the Explorer made it.

However, as murky as the waters of the MVP are, the award for Coach of Year may rival it.

What makes a Coach of the Year? Does it go to the man who best defies expectations? Or does it go to the man that best lives up to expectations? Is it the coach who faces the most in-season adversity, or the one that never allows his team to face it in the first place? I’ve been watching the NBA for most of my life, and intently for more than a decade, and I still don’t know the answer.

You might not care about this award, and rightfully so. After all, the very integrity of it has been irreparably destroyed just by the mere fact that Sam Mitchell, Mike D’Antoni and Mike Dunleavy have the same amount of awards as Gregg Popovich, Phil Jackson and Rick Carlisle (I went on a longer, more detailed rant months ago, which you can check out here). However, that’s why MAMBINO is here, my friends. Much like Nickeback restored order to the credibility of modern rock n’ roll, your favorite, humble sports blog has come to help inform you the best two choices for the 2012 NBA Coach of the Year. You can’t go wrong with either choice, except for the fact that I’m right and BockerKnocker is dead wrong. Check it out!

Gregg Popovich

KOBEsh: The San Antonio Spurs have been left for dead 4 years running. Just a year after their 2007 championship, every prognosticator and critic pronounced the Spurs’ window not just closed, but shattered and replaced by a new, hi-def TV. Timmy was too old, Manu was too hurt and despite the fact that he’s STILL somehow not even 30 today, that Tony Parker would never be good enough to be the star that made a team a contender. What everyone forgot is that they have the best coach in the league at the helm.

If you gave this award to Gregg Popovich every single year, would anyone have a problem with it? I don’t think so. Whether you like him or not, or dismiss the Spurs because of their drab colors, drab superstars or small-town presence, the fact is that Gregg Popovich has been the best coach in the league for over a decade now. 100% true. The Spurs completely overhauled their offense and personnel last season, moving from a slow, half-court oriented offense revolving around Tim Duncan’s post presence, to a more up-tempo, fastbreak style attack. Popovich led a team many thought would finish 7th or 8th in the Conference to the best record in the West, and a number 1 seed. Poised to dominate the playoffs with the Lakers in a down year and the Mavericks without a second star to help Dirk, the Spurs faced their biggest match-up nightmare, as the 8th seeded Memphis Grizzlies took a buzzsaw to the Spurs’ front line and dispatched them in 6 games.

Coming into 2012 with a hectic, condensed schedule, a shortened training camp and old legs as their primary pieces, everyone predicted the most disastrous results possible for the Spurs (well, except maybe here). Now, here we are, 4 … Read more...

Defense Wins Championships: The All-D Teams

Welcome to MAMBINO’s All-Defensive team selection post, or as I like to call it, the True NBA Hoophead Nerd-fest.

The funny thing about defining the All-Defensive team is that other than watching an ass-load of hoops, there’s no real way to quantify whether or not someone makes this team. Sure, blocks and steals are two metrics that could help define defense, but you know who are in the top 5 of blocks this year? Dwight Howard, Serge Ibaka, Roy Hibbert, DeAndre Jordan and professional unintentional comedian JaVale McGee. Do Dwight, Serge and Hibbert deserve some merit for either 1st or 2nd team All-Defensive? Absolutely. But Jordan and McGee? Absolutely not. Both guys make so many boneheaded defensive plays a game, whether it’s missing rotations, not sealing an assignment well enough or not boxing out, that even though they get blocks on sheer athleticism, they can’t be regarded as All-NBA defenders.

So I’m sorry to the all the nihilistic basketball robot writers out there, who live by complex formulas, plus/minus ratings and efficiency statistics; these awards are given out here by guys who actually watch the game, rather than reduce it to a game of human sudoku. Hai. You have to catch the eye of the true nerds of the game, and wow them with physical play, smart decision-making and of course, suffocating tenacity.

All-Defensive 1st Team
G-Iman Shumpert, New York Knicks
G-Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies
F-LeBron James, Miami Heat
F-Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia 76ers
C-Tyson Chandler (DPOY), New York Knicks

BockerKnocker: Tyson Chandler is not one of the league leaders in blocks, even while standing at a height of 7’1″ (Mambino 2nd teamer Serge Ibaka paces the group with a healthy 3.56 per game). Chandler is only 9th in the league in Defensive Win Shares, a statistic that computes the amount of points allowed for every 100 possessions in which the player is in the game. He isn’t the best big man at hedging screens, grabbing rebounds, or defending the post. And for the life of me, I can’t understand why he fails to box out the opposition or why he has an incessant need to backtap every single loose ball on the offensive end. But in most circles, he is the consensus Defensive Player of the Year, and this heavenly website is no different (for once).

Let’s not get it twisted — Chandler does most of those things at an above-average level. His completeness, however, isn’t the primary reason he deserves this award; rather, it only augments the one quality that separates him from the rest of the league.

He talks.

And talks. And talks. And talks. In just about every situation in life, talking too much has been branded with negativity (or at least that’s what people tell me when they explain why I need to shut up). But on the defensive end of the basketball court, a team’s leader cannot talk enough. His words form the customary instructions and warnings that are necessary for a team to succeed at getting stops, and he’s not afraid to get in the face of anybody, including Carmelo Anthony. But it’s not just during games. Chandler is a chatterbox at practices. Chandler will take a player aside, most often a young player, like Toney Douglas, and play teacher, often at the expense of Mike D’Antoni trying to brainwash the team into scoring more points.

People like to say that a true MVP makes the players around him better. In the Knicks’ 4 games without Chandler, they revert back to the MDA era Bockers, giving up more than 115 points per game. … Read more...

A Terrible NBA Rookie Class

Every now and then my family will have a fairly large reunion. Aside from seeing faces I don’t get to see too often, the best part is eating all the food that people bring. Once in a blue moon, however, the food, overall, doesn’t hit the spot. I wouldn’t dare describe which foods just in case my family decides to do some detective work on Facebook, but don’t worry familia, nobody’s perfect. You’re allowed to give up a three-run homer every now and then.

Even on that rare day where my taste buds want to huddle together and declare war, there’s still usually one dish that will get me through the afternoon. To make up for the rest, I’ll keep going back to that particular food item (stealthily, of course).

That basically sums up the rookie class for the 2011-12 NBA season. There are a couple of bright spots in an overall terrible, terrible table of food. Kyrie Irving, Mambino’s Rookie of the Year, has played the Cleveland Savior role to near-perfection (“near” because he ended the season on the injury list). Ricky Rubio has dazzled Minnesota fans, giving superstar teammate Kevin Love something to finally smile about…until Rubio himself ended up hurt, tearing his ACL. And then there’s YOUR favorite rookie, Iman Shumpert, whose presence on the defensive end will be highlighted in a future Mambino awards post. I feel extra proud of Shumpert’s progress as an on-ball super-glue defender just because he plays for my team; it’s kind of like when my mama knocks it out of the park when she makes mac-and-cheese or artichoke dip.

But for the most part, the rookie class has been truly disappointing. You’ll see. Our All-Rookie teams await you.

All-Rookie First Team:

Guard: Kyrie Irving (Rookie of the Year), Cleveland Cavaliers
Guard: Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves
Forward: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
Forward: Chandler Parsons, Houston Rockets
Center: Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers

KOBEsh: You know you’re in trouble when two of your 1st Teamers have played only roughly 2/3 of the season. Thanks, NBA Lockout. You’re like the herpes of the sports world; sometimes we forget about you, but the inflammation strikes when we see Tristan Thompson is 1st Team All-Rookie.

We all tempered Kyrie Irving with pretty modest expectations for the season, and even moreso in projecting the number 1 overall pick’s career. Everyone (including us) thought he’d take more than his fair share of lumps his rookie year, with a likely high turnover rate and low shooting percentage. In Cleveland, the focus would be on developing Irving, without leaning on him too much. We all saw him as becoming something close to a Jrue Holiday-type of point guard; solid, steady, but un-spectacular. And then Kyrie shoved it to everyone.

Irving came with an explosiveness and confidence that no one could have reasonably expected from someone who played a dozen games in college. He ran the Cleveland offense efficiently, with the calm of a veteran point guard. He got his own shot with an explosive first step to the hole, and shot the ball with a better stroke than his years should have given him. At the mid-February mark, Cleveland was still on the fringes of making the playoffs, which for a non-rookie, would have made him an All-Star. At this point, would you take Irving for the rest of his career, or Jrue Holiday? There goes that comparison.

One of the stiffs that Irving dragged to competence is our starting center here, Tristan Thompson. Thomp… Read more...

State of the Union Kickoff – New York Knicks

You know how the State of the Union addresses go, right? President goes up and speaks about how the country is kicking ass in everything. Problems during the President’s term are either masked with rehearsed rhetoric or omitted from discussion in entirety. And, our favorite part: Congressmen, celebrities, and other losers get on their feet for the obligatory applause as soon as Mr. President indicates that it is the correct time to do so.

Well, and especially in the Knicks’ case, you won’t need to stop reading mid-blog post and clap your hands. This post will be the first in a series of irregularly scheduled posts detailing Mambino’s favorite professional teams. I’ll take care of the Bockers and Yankees, KOBEsh will handle Lakers and Dodgers, and Pucklius will muse on the Devils and Mets. Each prominent player will be given a number of Mambinos, on a scale of 1-5, with some biased analysis to follow. (Hey, at least we’re honest.)

The Knicks are off to a 2-4 start. The team has heard boos during every single home game: losses to the lowly Raptors and Bobcats, and even during the win over the Celtics, when New York squandered a 20 point lead in the 2nd half. But relax, guys. Remember that the goal in a shortened season is to simply make the playoffs. However, that doesn’t mean that the team is free of problems that need to be addressed. Let’s get to it.

Before we get to the bad news, let’s talk about Shump Dizzle. Last night’s game against the Bobcats provided one bright spot: the Garden faithful’s acceptance of Iman Shumpert into their lives. He hit shot after shot after shot. He played excellent man-to-man defense. He made smart decisions. Basically, he was everything that we wished Toney Douglas was: a real point guard who can provide a spark when necessary. When MDA inexplicably took Shump out of the game in the 4th quarter, when the Knicks were building their last comeback, the crowd begged and pleaded for his return. D’Antoni listened, for once, and is now contemplating starting the rook on Friday night against the Washington Walls.
I took an informal poll in my section last night, and not one person said they would trade Shumpert for the rookie on the opposing bench, Kemba Walker. And that’s saying something. This guy has all the tools to be an All-Star one day. Consider my #21 t-shirt already ordered.
The Knicks gave up a billion points last night to the Charlotte Bobcats. Disgusting, I know; everytime B.J. Freaking Mullens hit a jumper from the perimeter, my heart asked my brain why I decided to become a Knicks fan. And expectedly, the fingers are being pointed at Tyson Chandler, the guy who was supposed to “correct” the porous Knick defense. But wait a second. He’s just one man.
If you’ve caught a glimpse of training camp, practices, or have been lucky enough to sit close enough in the Garden, you will hear one voice over everybody else’s (including the easily recognizable D’antoni Drawl): Tyson’s. He teaches lessons and barks out orders to everyone, including Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire. In games, he still blocks more than 1 shot a game, and alters at least 5 more. His free throw shooting has been pretty decent, and he’s a nice target for lobs inside.
So why does he not get 4 Mambinos, or even 3.5? Well, those rebounding numbers are low at less than 7 per game. There are two reasons for that. First, his defensive prowess cannot physical

The 2011 MLB Mambinos

Murder. Rape. Announcing regular season awards during the playoffs. 3 crimes, all of equal importance. Since we enjoy our non-prison lifestyle, here are the winners of the 2011 MLB Mambinos!
National League Most Valuable Player: Ryan Braun
Runners-up: Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols, Matt Kemp (KOBEsh’s pick)
KOBEsh: I’m 27 years old, and I still don’t know what “Most Valuable” means. I hear different arguments from a everyone. I’ve heard that the MVP has to be which player from a playoff or near-playoff team brings the most value. The Simmons-ian argument is “If you had to start your team and win in 2011, who would you pick?”. You could also go with the sabermetric argument and decide which player brings the most wins above a league average replacement player (otherwise known as WAR).
I go with a slightly different and even more crude argument; it’s the “which player would your team be MOST screwed if you didn’t have him?” In other words, if you subtracted that one guy’s skills, leadership and other intangibles from that guy’s team, which guy would leave his team the most devastated?
By my count, there’s no man in the National League who would leave his team in worse shape by going AWOL than Matt Kemp. As I detailed a few weeks ago, he has dragged a team full of overpaid stiffs, injury wracked veterans and inexperienced rookies to a winning record. Somehow he has thrown up numbers that rank in the top 3 in average, slugging, OPS, homers, RBI, runs scored, steals, wins above replacement, intentional walks and total bases despite being surrounded by a band of underachievers, has beens and never His leadership and incredibly consistent play (both offensively and defensively – don’t forget that last part) have kept this team from losing 95 games.
Prince and the Hebrew Hammer have had incredible years, but if you were to take one of them off of that team, they still would contend for the NL Central title. More importantly, the difference Kemp makes on the defensive end is miles ahead of where both Brewers candidates are.
Pujols is a robot. I am going to cut and paste this section every year, because he rightfully should have a perennial spot in the top five for MVP voting. Upton, similar to Kemp in performance but not necessarily in numbers, has taken an otherwise feeble offense on his back and led them to respectability and an NL West title.
BockKnock: Matt Kemp is the National League Player of the Year. He’s not the MVP. Yeah, the Dodgers would be so much worse without him, but guess what? Being third in the NL West is the same thing as being fifth in the NL West. Both of those teams won’t play in October, and that’s all that matters.
I disagree with the Boss. You can’t assume that the Brew Crew would contend for the Central Division title if they lose Ryan Braun. Losing a middle of the order hitter who is the face of a franchise has effects on the rest of the team that are unmeasurable. It’s kind of like when you plan a college reunion with your buddies, and one of them can’t go. Not only does everyone know the trip won’t be the same, but there will be little reminders of it along the way that everyone doesn’t expect.
American League Most Valuable Player: Curtis Granderson
Runners-Up: Justin Verlander (KOBEsh’s pick), Miguel Cabrera (BockKnock’s pick), Jose Bautista
K: Which player would your team be MOST screwed if you didn’t have him? In the American League, that’s got to be Justin Verlander.
I’ve heard the argument that pitchers shoul…