The Scoop: Midyear NBA Accolades

It’s mid-January, and even San Diego has shown some signs of “winter,” leaving its residents comically unprepared for the rain. So it’s time to talk football, right? Well, I’ve never been one to follow trends — heck, I’ve been a Warriors fan since before their “We Believe” days — and I refused to jump on the Chargers’ bandwagon this year. Let’s face it, after Nate Kaeding’s glorious suck-fest on Sunday, the last thing you want to hear is predictions for an AFC Championship game to which the Chargers so brilliantly botched their ticket.

So instead, here are a few of my midseason NBA awards. We’ll see if they have any relevance by the time summer rolls around.

Guy that screwed over his team the most: the Wizard’s Gilbert Arenas

To be fair, Agent Zero’s biggest crime was being too serious a practical joker. In fact, we should applaud how committed he is to punking his teammates. I’m talking, of course, about bringing unloaded guns into the locker room and, alongside Javaris Crittenton, pointing them at each other. Maybe bringing in the guns and then joking about it later (Arenas and his teammates drew more attention to the scandal by making guns out of their hands on the sidelines) wasn’t as hilarious as they thought.

One thing I’ve learned from all of this: If I ever see a professional athlete out on the streets, I’m gonna make sure to be extra careful about what I say. Arenas was by no means packing light — accompanying his .50 caliber gold-plated semiautomatic was a .500 magnum revolver, a .45 mm semiautomatic and a 9 mm. Who knows what would happen if he went all Plaxico Burress on us and loaded all his guns into his sweatpants? Four shots in the leg and indefinite suspension wouldn’t have been the only thing that ruined his season.

Surprise Team of the (Mid) Year: Oklahoma City Thunder

Loyal readers know that I dedicated my last column to picking apart the Sonicsgate fiasco from a couple of years ago that sent the Sonics to Oklahoma City. But the Thunder has really stepped up its game, thanks to third-year forward Kevin Durant. The former Rookie of the Year has led the team to 23 wins this season in half the time it took all its players combined last year. Durant has exceeded already high expectations for the year, averaging 29.1 points per game and 7.1 rebounds. Second-year point guard Russell Westbrook isn’t too shabby either, putting up 16.1 points and 7.5 assists per game.

The Thunder is definitely not perfect — the team ranks in the top five in turnovers. But considering the nucleus of young players, they should start handling the ball better soon — hopefully in time to make a push for the playoffs this season.

Rookie of the (Mid) Year: the King’s Tyreke Evans.

It’s a close tie with Brandon Jennings’ ghetto ass, but Evans has been playing well of late and looks to be getting even better. The 20-year-old is averaging 20.8 points per game for the Kings, and has all the qualities of a complete guard. More impressive than his jumpers is his rare rookie ability to make plays at the basket.

Evans is shining for a Kings team that is, as Charles Barkley would say, “turrible” beyond belief. If there is any truth to the Sacramento Kings move to San Jose rumors, Evans might be playing in my hometown sometime soon.

Honorable Mention: the Warrior’s Stephen Curry.

Monta Ellis said it couldn’t be done, but he and Stephen Curry have been tearing up the backcourt for the Warriors lately — even if the rest of the team is struggling to bring Golden State out from the cellar. But seriously, what were the Warriors thinking, letting Ellis answer questions about Curry without prepping him first? Have you heard the man talk? He can run faster than most of the league, but put him in front of a mic and he’s slower than Bengie Molina rounding first base.

Still, Monta came around once Stephen Curry got in the rhythm of things. On Monday against the Bulls, Curry had 26 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. And his outside shot that brought him to stardom in college is starting to show up in the pros — Curry hit five tres against the Bulls.

I just realized I got through this whole NBA column without mentioning everyone’s favorite star: Kobe Bryant.

There. Now I still have a shot at becoming a professional sports journalist in Southern California.

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