Doc Rivers has been a candidate for Coach of the Year since he won the award in 2000. Rivers guided the Boston Celtics to a championship in 2008, and coached a pair of All-Star Games in 2008 and 2011. The additional role of Team President will enhance his chances of being recognized again, as he has more control of making personnel decisions. That’s usually a power that only college coaches are granted, however, he has earned his stripes along Greg Popovich and Stan Van Gundy.
Blake Griffin is looking to build upon a strong 2013-14 campaign. Placing third in MVP votes behind Kevin Durant and LeBron James should be an award in itself. The high-flyer focused on his mid-range touch, boosting his point-average by six from the previous year. Currently recovering from a minor back issue, the high-flyer is the face of Los Angeles over the likes of teammate Chris Paul and rival Kobe Bryant. The four-time All-Star posted averages of 24 points, nearly 10 boards and four dimes with a steal. Although he improved from the stripe by 6 percent, he could still take a leap from last season’s 72 percent , and that can only increase his point-total.
DeAndre Jordan broke out last season, and it appears that a monster has been created. He doesn’t have the offensive moves that Dwight Howard or DeMarcus Cousins have, but he knows how to finish above the rim. The defensive standout grabbed a career-high, 13.6 rebounds per contest. The 9.5 defensive rebound average was also a career-high, as cleaning the glass is yet another factor on that end of the floor. There is a short list of rim protectors in the game today, and he’s certainly on it by rejecting 2.5 shots and poking out a steal per game. The defensive gameplan is to take away the 3-ball, which funnels penetrators to Jordan in the paint. The recipe for success gave them the edge in the first round of the playoffs against the Golden State Warriors. The All-Star snub finished third in the Defensive Player of the Year voting, conceding to the Joakim Noah (winner) and Roy Hibbert.
Jamal Crawford is the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, an award he also won in 2010. The NBA all-time leader in 4-point plays continues to be the most prolific scorer off the pine at 34 years of age. Despite trade rumblings and chatter about his contract, the veteran scored the more points in 2013-14. His 18.6 output is the third-highest of his career, and the most he has scored in the past five seasons. As of right now he’s a core player on the Clippers. Things have been quiet about his future, but speculation may resurface around All-Star Weekend for the high-volume scorer. Coming into the season he remains the favorite to win the award again, over runner-ups Taj Gibson and Manu Ginobli.
Gibson is an all-around player who is now part of a deep frontline rotation with Noah, Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic. Crawford averages 30 minutes with nearly 15 shots, where as Ginobli has declined to nine shots in 23 minutes.