On NBA Tuesday, we have reach the most recent “past” decade with the arrival of the 2009-2010 season. The names and situations should be familiar as we cruise through the next few months toward the conclusion of this miniseries in this column. It’s an exciting decade ahead, too, obviously!
That being said, here we go again …
2010 NBA MVP: LeBron James (original, confirmed)
The Cleveland Cavaliers once again topped the NBA with 61 victories, and their star small forward—LeBron James—won the MVP vote again after leading the league in both Win Shares (18.46) and Player Efficiency Rating (31.11). The latter mark was just below the King’s 2009 level of play, but it was still tremendously high in comparison to the league leaders in the seasons prior as noted last week.
For the record, these were the stats: 29.7 points, 8.6 assists, 7.3 rebounds, 1.6 steals, and 1.0 blocks per game. That’s an all-around incredible season for James at age 25, and this would be his last season in Cleveland (first stint). It ended with another playoff disappointment for him, however.
The two next-best players in the league? Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (16.09 WS, 26.16 PER) and Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade (13.03 WS, 28.02 PER). Stay tuned for their names here in the future, of course.
2010 NBA ROTY: Tyreke Evans (original), Taj Gibson (revised)
Eight different rookies posted 4.0-plus WS marks, including some rather big names: OKC shooting guard James Harden (4.5); Detroit Pistons power forward Jonas Jerebko (4.4); New Orleans Hornets SG Marcus Thornton (4.0); Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings (4.2); Chicago Bulls PF Taj Gibson (4.7); Sacramento Kinds SG Tyreke Evans (5.4); Golden State Warriors PG Stephen Curry (4.7); and San Antonio Spurs PF DeJuan Blair (4.6).
Evans won the ROTY vote, although the Kings won just 25 games and missed the postseason by 25 wins. He was the “best” rookie, but was he the most valuable? The Spurs won 50 games to claim the final Western Conference postseason berth, so Blair has some value. The Warriors won just 26 games, while the Bulls won 41 games to claim the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Bucks won 46 games and might have the postseason without Jennings, however. The Hornets posted 37 victories, and the Pistons won just 27 times. The Thunder managed 50 wins as well, to slide right into the playoffs with the Spurs in the West. So that leaves us with Blair, Gibson, and Harden as providing the most value to their teams. With Durant so dominant, though, Harden certainly had some help, so …
The Spurs also had a pretty good roster as a team that won NBA titles in 2003, 2005, 2007, and again in 2014. That really means, to us, Gibson provided the most impact as a strong rookie performer. Quite the surprise, perhaps, with Curry and Harden in this conversation, but the facts are the facts.