After winning his first championship, LeBron James was on a mission with the Miami Heat. That mission was to repeat as champions. He accomplished that goal by winning his second title and did it at an extreme superstar level. LeBron won the MVP and Finals MVP but came up just short of the Defensive Player of the Year Award to earn the triple crown.
Among other award winners, Marc Gasol led a strong Memphis Grizzlies team on the defensive front, while Damian Lillard made his grand entrance to the league. Paul George leaped to stardom and nearly stopped LeBron from making the NBA Finals. George Karl was seen as the best in the league but had a tough ending to the season.
These are the award winners from the 2012-2013 season.
Most Valuable Player - LeBron James
2nd Place: Kevin Durant; 3rd Place: Carmelo Anthony
This was not a close race. For starters, the Heat had the best record in the Eastern Conference with a 66-16 record. The Heat won 12 more games than the next best team, which was the New York Knicks at 54 wins. LeBron averaged 26.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.7 steals, and 0.9 blocks. The media saw his efforts and rewarded him with 120 of the 121 first-place ballots.
The lone first-place ballot that didn’t go to LeBron went to Carmelo Anthony. Durant finished second despite having no first-place votes. Durant led the Thunder to a 60-22 record, which was the best record in the Western Conference. Anthony led the Knicks to a second-place finish in the East. The Knicks made the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2000.
Defensive Player Of The Year - Marc Gasol
2nd Place: LeBron James; 3rd Place: Serge Ibaka
Gasol joined Tyson Chandler as the only player to not make All-Defensive First Team and win Defensive Player of the Year. Gasol was a Second-Team member, while Serge Ibaka was named to the First Team because the rules only took one center. Joakim Noah and Chandler had tied that year, leaving Gasol on the Second Team.
In the voting, Gasol took 30 of the first-place votes, while LeBron had 18. Gasol finished with 212 points and LeBron had 149. Gasol averaged 14.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.7 steals, and 1.0 blocks. The Grizzlies had the best team defense in the league, allowing 89.3 points per game.
Rookie Of The Year - Damian Lillard
2nd Place: Anthony Davis; 3rd Place: Bradley Beal
The top three finishers in this race would ultimately become stars in the league down the road. For this season, it was our first glance at the likes of Damian Lillard, Anthony Davis, and Bradley Beal. In the end, Lillard would come away as the top rookie and he would take all 121 first-place votes.
Beal averaged 13.9 points and 3.8 rebounds in his first season with the Wizards and finished with 94 points in the voting. Davis averaged 13.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks and finished with 306 points in the voting. Meanwhile, Lillard ran away with the award after averaging 19.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 6.5 assists for the Trail Blazers and finished with a whopping 605 points in the voting.
Sixth Man Of The Year - J.R. Smith
2nd Place: Jamal Crawford; 3rd Place: Jarrett Jack
After playing alongside Carmelo Anthony for several seasons, Smith eventually became teammates with him in New York. The rise to the top tier of the East didn’t fall just on Anthony’s shoulders. He had help and that help came off the bench with Smith having one of his best seasons altogether. Smith averaged 18.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.3 steals to help the Knicks win 54 games.
Smith received 72 of the first-place votes, while Jamal Crawford received 31 votes. Crawford averaged 16.5 points for the Clippers, who finished with 56 wins in the loaded Western Conference. As for Jack, he finished with 12.9 points and 5.6 assists for the Warriors, who finished with 47 wins and the No. 6 seed.
Most Improved Player Of The Year - Paul George
2nd Place: Greivis Vasquez; 3rd Place: Larry Sanders
At the time, George was in his third season in the league but was gaining traction at being one of the best. In the 2011-2012 season, George averaged 12.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.6 steals. In this season, he won Most Improved Player by averaging 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.8 steals. The Pacers were third in the East with 49 wins. In the playoffs, he led the team to the Conference Finals where the team pushed the Heat to seven games.
George ran away with the award by receiving 52 of the first-place votes. Greivis Vasquez was second with 13 after having a solid season with the New Orleans Pelicans. Behind them, you had three tied with 10 votes, Larry Sanders, Nikola Vucevic, and Jrue Holiday. Sanders finished third by finishing with more points.
Coach Of The Year - George Karl
The Nuggets were a bit of a surprise this season. The team won 57 games to finish third in the standings. The team averaged the most points per game at 106.1 points per game in a time when the defense was taken a bit more seriously. Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari both averaged at least 16 points per game. Kenneth Faried nearly averaged a double-double. The team didn’t even have Nikola Jokic at the time.
However, the era of George Karl ended with a tough ending. The Nuggets were bounced early in the playoffs and it led to ownership removing Karl as the coach. Despite winning COY, it wasn’t enough to keep him on the team. We would see this same thing happen to Dwane Casey of the Raptors just a few years later.
NBA Champions - Miami Heat
Runner-Up: San Antonio Spurs
The Heat returned to the NBA Finals for the third straight season looking to defend their title. Their opponent was the San Antonio Spurs, who were led by Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili. The series stretched to seven games and featured a fantastic Game 6 and Game 7.
Everyone might remember Game 6, where the Spurs were leading as time was getting close to expiring. Needing a three-pointer, LeBron James took the game-tying shot but came up short. Chris Bosh came down with the rebound and found a wide-open Ray Allen, who pulled the trigger and tied the game. The Heat won in overtime to set up Game 7. LeBron closed out the Spurs with 37 points and 12 rebounds.
Finals MVP - LeBron James
For his efforts, LeBron was named Finals MVP for the second straight season. In seven games, LeBron averaged 25.3 points, 10.9 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 2.3 steals, and 0.9 blocks. When the Spurs led the series 2-1, LeBron scored the most points for the Heat in Games 4, 6, and 7, which were all wins for Miami. That included 33, 32, and 37 points respectively.
LeBron had a special playoff all around. He led all players in points, assists, and win shares. While many people like to look at Allen's game-saving triple, LeBron did so much in the playoffs and the Finals to lead the Heat. Without him, the series does not go to seven games, let alone the team winning their third championship in franchise history.
2013 NBA Season - All-Star MVP, All-NBA Teams, All-Rookie Teams, All-Defensive Teams
All-Star MVP: Chris Paul
All-NBA First Team: Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Tim Duncan
All-NBA Second Team: Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker, Carmelo Anthony, Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol
All-NBA Third Team: James Harden, Dwyane Wade, Paul George, David Lee, Dwight Howard
All-Rookie First Team: Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal, Dion Waiters, Harrison Barnes, Anthony Davis
All-Rookie Second Team: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kyle Singler, Tyler Zeller, Andre Drummond, Jonas Valanciunas
All-Defensive First Team: Chris Paul, Tony Allen, LeBron James, Serge Ibaka, Joakim Noah/Tyson Chandler (Tie)
All-Defensive Second Team: Avery Bradley, Mike Conley Jr., Paul George, Tim Duncan, Marc Gasol