In 2011 Derrick Rose took the league by storm, guiding the Chicago Bulls to the best record in the league at 62-20. Rose earned the MVP Award but was stymied by LeBron James and the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. Miami met Dallas in the NBA’s penultimate round as huge favorites but lost to the Mavericks as Dirk Nowitzki won his first and only Finals MVP trophy.
The 2010-11 season also saw Dwight Howard take over the league with his play on the less fun end as he won the Defensive Player of the Year Award. Blake Griffin sat out his first season in the association after breaking his kneecap during his final preseason game. He was worth the wait, winning the Rookie of the Year Award after he recovered. Tom Thibodeau also took home his own hardware as the Coach of the Year.
These are the award winners from the 2010-11 season.
Most Valuable Player - Derrick Rose
2nd Place: Dwight Howard; 3rd Place: LeBron James
This was not a close race. After averaging 20.8 PPG, 6.0 APG, 3.8 RPG, and 6.0 WS during the 2009-10 season while making his first All-Star team, Derrick Rose hit the lab over the summer and leveled up from a top-25 player to the MVP. In 2011-12 Rose averaged 25.0 PPG, 7.7 APG, 4.1 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 0.6 BPG, and 13.1 WS as he used his incredible athleticism and herky-jerky style to wreak havoc on opposing teams in the lane, leading the Chicago Bulls to the best record in the league at 62-20.
Dwight Howard finished the 2010-11 season as the MVP runner-up. Superman received three first place votes as he led the Orlando Magic to a 52-30 regular season record, averaging 22.9 PPG, 14.1 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.4 SPG, 2.4 BPG, and 14.4 WS. LeBron James came in third place in MVP voting. His Miami Heat had a 58-24 record, and he averaged 26.7 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 7.0 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.6 BPG, and 15.6 WS.
Defensive Player Of The Year - Dwight Howard
2nd Place: Kevin Garnett; 3rd Place: Tyson Chandler
Dwight Howard won the 2010-11 Defensive Player of the Year Award as he terrorized opposing offenses with his heroics on the less fun end. Howard anchored the Magic’s third-rated defense, and he finished second in blocks at 2.4 per game and came in second in rebounding with 14.1 per contest. To cap off Howard’s best defender resume, he led the league in defensive win shares at 7.7 for the season.
Kevin Garnett came in second for the Defensive Player of the Year, earning only 1 first place vote (Howard had 114 first place votes). Garnett played his usual brand of intense inside-out defense as he helped his Boston Celtics finish tied for first in defensive rating during the 2010-11 season. Tyson Chandler finished the year in third place, supplying the Dallas Mavericks with excellent rim protection throughout the season.
Rookie Of The Year - Blake Griffin
2nd Place: John Wall; 3rd Place: DeMarcus Cousins
The top three finishers in the Rookie of the Year race would all become NBA All-Stars. Blake Griffin shined brightest in 2010-11, earning all 118 first place votes. He averaged 22.5 PPG, 12.1 RPG, 3.8 APG, 0.8 SPG, and 0.5 BPG in his first season in the league for the Los Angeles Clippers. Griffin took over Sports Center with his nightly poster jams in the lane, and he gave LA’s other team a glimmer of hope in what was a primarily sad 32-50 year.
John Wall completed his first season in the league as the second best rookie. He averaged 16.4 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 8.3 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.5 BPG for the Washington Wizards, showing signs of things to come with his explosive burst to the rim and excellent drive and kick game. DeMarcus Cousins ended the 2010-11 season in third place for the Rookie of the Year Award. He put up 14.1 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.0 SPG, and 0.8 BPG during his first campaign with the Sacramento Kings, showing he had a full bag of post moves and a solid mid-range jumper.
Sixth Man Of The Year - Lamar Odom
2nd Place: Jason Terry; 3rd Place: Thaddeus Young
Lamar Odom was a starter for the Clippers, Heat, and Lakers during his younger days. Still, Odom put up his best all-around season for the Purple and Gold throughout his age 31 season, earning the Sixth Man of the Year Award. Odom was an inside-out monster for the Lakers in the 2010-11 season averaging 14.4 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 3.0 APG, 0.6 SPG, and 0.7 BPG all while helping spread the floor for Kobe with a 38.2% hit rate from deep.
Jason Terry came in second place for the Sixth Man of the Year Award as the league’s premier vacuum scorer off the bench. Terry poured in 15.8 PPG in 2010-11 while dishing out 4.1 APG and pulling down 1.9 RPG. Terry’s confidence and outside shooting touch were instrumental in the Mavs march to the title.
Thaddeus Young finished the 2010-11 season in third place for the Sixth Man of the Year Award. He averaged 12.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.0 APG, 1.1 SPG, and 0.3 BPG for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Most Improved Player Of The Year - Kevin Love
2nd Place: LaMarcus Aldridge; 3rd Place: Dorell Wright
Kevin Love won the Most Improved Player Award during his third campaign in the league. He made a significant one-year leap, upping nearly all his metrics.
Here’s a breakdown:
Kevin Love’s 2009-10 statistics: 14.0 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 2.3 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.4 BPG, 33.0 3P%
Kevin Love’s 2010-11 statistics: 20.2 PPG, 15.2 RPG, 2.5 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.4 BPG, 41.7 3P%
Kevin Love made the 2010-11 All-Star team as he developed into the league’s best rebounder and big man three-point shooter.
LaMarcus Aldridge finished the year in second place for the Most Improved Player of the Year Award, showing excellent progress in his overall play. He averaged 21.8 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.0 SPG, and 1.2 BPG for the Portland Trail Blazers on the season.
Dorell Wright was third in Most Improved Player voting. He averaged 16.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.5 SPG, and 0.8 BPG for the Warriors, giving them a surprise boost during his age 25 season.
Coach Of The Year - Tom Thibodeau
Tom Thibodeau garnered 76 first-place votes in 2010-11 as he guided the Chicago Bulls to a league-best 62-20 regular season record. The 62 wins for the Bulls were a vast improvement over their 2009-10 record of 41-41. Even more impressive, the Bulls were one of only two teams in the NBA to not lose more than two games in a row.
In his first head coaching campaign, Thibodeau proved to be a defensive mastermind. He guided the Bulls to the best defensive rating in the league (the Bulls and Celtics tied for the honor with a 100.3 DEFRTG) as he stalked the sidelines, yelling until he was hoarse, actively helping his players get into their proper sets.
Tom Thibodeau and the Chicago Bulls made a deep playoff run before getting cut off by the LeBron James and Dwyane Wade buzz saw in the Eastern Conference Finals.
NBA Champions - Dallas Mavericks
Runner-Up: Miami Heat
The Dallas Mavericks finished the 2010-11 regular season tied with the Los Angeles Lakers for the second best record in the Western Conference, four games behind the San Antonio Spurs. The Mavs were seen by most as a solid second-round playoff team heading into the NBA’s second season.
Then Dirk Nowitzki and company pulled off one of the best postseason runs all-time. The Mavs started with an easy 4-2 series win against the Portland Trail Blazers and went into the second round as significant underdogs to the Lakers. Dirk Nowitzki shot a ridiculous 72.7% from deep, and Jason Terry connected on 68.4% of his three-point attempts for the series as the Mavs rained death from beyond the arc on the Purple and Gold. Dallas ended up sweeping the Lakers. They took their same shooting juice into the Western Conference Finals and blitzed the young Thunder in five games. The Mavs entered the finals against LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and the Miami Heat brimming with confidence. Dallas played inspired defense, harassing James into a mini finals meltdown (LBJ averaged 17.8 PPG throughout six finals games), as they took the chip home in six games.
Finals MVP – Dirk Nowitzki
Nowitzki became the third foreign-born player to win the Finals MVP trophy in 2011. Dirk averaged 26.0 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 2.0 APG, 0.7 SPG, and 0.7 BPG while shooting 36.8% from deep during the NBA’s final round.
Nowitzki routinely bailed out the Mavericks at the end of bogged down half-court possessions during the finals by first dribbling with his back to the basket, then slowly facing up before launching his high-release signature one-legged fadeaway jumper.
Dirk proved unstoppable in the mid-range during the finals, ruining the Heat time and time again.
2011 NBA Season – All-Star MVP, All-NBA Teams, All-Rookie Teams, All-Defensive Teams
All-Star MVP: Kobe Bryant
All-NBA First Team: LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant
All-NBA Second Team: Dirk Nowitzki, Amar’e Stoudemire, Dwyane Wade, Pau Gasol, Russell Westbrook
All-NBA Third Team: Chris Paul, LaMarcus Aldridge, Manu Ginobili, Zach Randolph, Al Horford
All-Rookie First Team: DeMarcus Cousins, Landry Fields, Blake Griffin, Gary Neal, John Wall
All-Rookie Second Team: Eric Bledsoe, Derrick Favors, Paul George, Wesley Johnson, Greg Monroe
All-Defensive First Team: Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Rajon Rondo
All-Defensive Second Team: Tony Allen, Tyson Chandler, Andre Iguodala, Joakim Noah, Chris Paul