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NBA Awards: The Very Best of the Atlantic Division in 2011-12

By Frankie Anetzberger

With two teams still battling for a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals, and playoff appearances by three of the five teams, the Atlantic Division has had its fair share of success in the shortened 2011-2012 NBA season. With season awards being announced by the league, we here at Atlantic Twine thought it would be appropriate to name our awards as well, with an Atlantic Division twist. Here’s the best of the best this season in the Atlantic Division.

2011-12 All-NBA Atlantic Division First Team

PG – Rajon Rondo – Boston Celtics

You can just about credit all of the success the Boston Celtics have had this season (and postseason) to Rajon Rondo.

It’s become pretty simple : when Rondo plays well, the Celtics play well.

His case to be admitted into the “Big Three” society has been proven time and time again. His ability to get his teammates open, not to mention his season average of 11.9 points and 11.7 assists per game gives him the easy nod for point guard in our All-NBA Atlantic Division First Team.

Mike Cassese/Reuters

SG – DeMar DeRozan – Toronto Raptors

We don’t hear much from the team north of the border, but the homie DeMar DeRozan does work! Averaging 16.7 points and 3.3 rebounds per game, the third year guard out of USC has shown he’s ready to lead the Raptors (if he really wants to).

It’s tough playing on what I call “The NBA’s International Try-Out Team,” but he’s certainly taken advantage of the opportunity. It’s tough to think the recognition this kid deserves will only come if he plays in the states, but never underestimate DeRozan’s skill-set.

And yes, he’s more than a dunker.

SF – Carmelo Anthony – New York Knicks

Despite temporarily taking a backseat with the New York media during Jeremy Lin’s escapade, Carmelo Anthony showed his true colors throughout the typical tumultuous New York Knicks season. No more evident than in the latter part of the season.

Personally, I never thought there was any issue regarding the leader of this team, Carmelo has proved time and time again he’s their go-to-guy. Although under his career average, his 22.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game were solid enough to land the Knicks a playoff spot, and more importantly, a playoff win.

PF – Amar’e Stoudemire – New York Knicks

A quick reminder, this selection is purely based off of his skill on the court, not on his way to the locker room.

That being said, Amar’e was the foundation of the Knicks, both offensively and defensively. The Knicks racked up wins when both Amar’e and Carmelo were on the same page. Throw in a healthy point-guard and a healthy Tyson Chandler and this team has the potential to be lethal.

Despite the fairly decent size chunk of the season he missed, he was vital none the less to the playoff berth solidified by the Knicks.

C – Kevin Garnett – Boston Celtics

We should probably expect a weak 10 point game from Kevin Garnett at this point in his career, although if you see, you’ll know he’ll never let himself let up.

Say what you want about Garnett, he leaves absolutely everything on the court and continually sends the Garden into delirium. Dropping 15.8 points and 8.2 still gets the job done at the age of 36, and if we based these predictions off of post-season play too, he’d be close to MVP.

2011-12 All-NBA Atlantic Division Second Team

PG – Jeremy Lin – New York Knicks/Deron Williams – Brooklyn Nets

Slap yourself if you seriously thought this was a hard decision.

This kid virtually came out of nowhere. As an avid Jamario Moon fan, I have a soft spot for players that truly grind their way to the top, and Lin’s story is just that.

Seeming like a fluke after dropping 25 points on the poor Nets, Jeremy Lin continued his dominance, capped off by an absolutely absurd 38 points against Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in front of the Garden Faithful.

As journalists, you felt yourself rooting for the kid every game. It was truly reminiscent of ‘Tebowmania,’ where we were all waiting for him to fall back to earth, but it never really panned out that way. It would have been something to see Lin in the playoffs, and hopefully that torn meniscus will be completely healed for next season, giving the Knicks a legitimate point guard.

On the other hand, Deron Williams did his thing for the Nets in what was a terrible season in New Jersey. The Nets faced more injuries than a first grade dodge-ball game, and had a different starting lineup just about every night.

Although it appeared he mentally checked out of some of last games, Williams finished the season averaging 21 points and 8.7 points per contest, which is remarkable given the players he was trotting up the court with. The Nets would do themselves a favor by convincing him to remain in Brooklyn. Without him, fuhgeddaboudit!

SG – Avery Bradley – Boston Celtics

Really? Over Ray Allen you say?

Yeah. I’m not sure more underrated Avery Bradley’s play could be this season.

Troubled by injuries, and decaying players, Bradley truly lifted the Celtics in spurts from being mediocre to being legitimate. Bradley took over the starting shooting guard spot from late March until mid-March, stepping in for the injured Ray Allen. Again, another player who would have truly impacted his team if not for injury.

The Celtics are in decent hands if Ray Allen decides to bounce at the end of the season.

SF – Andre Iguodala – Philadelphia 76ers

Looking over his game log, it’s amazing Andre Iguodala is only averaging 12.4 points per game this season. His presence for the 76ers this year was crucial.

Remember in the beginning of the season when Philly was dominating?

Yeah, thanks Iggy. He finally gave the 76ers a positive look since Allen Iverson was sending defenders to the hospital. It’s also crazy to think the Lakers almost sealed a deal to take Iggy away from Philadelphia.

Although his shooting is average, his driving ability appears to improve every season. If he can knock down free-throws like he did against Chicago in the playoffs, and continue to take defenders off the dribble, Philadelphia has a bright future. They just need to find a closer, why not bring Ivo back?

PF – Andrea Bargnani – Toronto Raptors

I’ve now hit every Atlantic Division team on this second team. Cute, right?

Really though, Andrea Bargnani did his thing this season for the Raptors. He still isn’t putting up “First Pick, First Round” numbers yet (and probably never will), but enough to get some recognition on the Twine. Dropping 19.5 points per game and only playing half of the season, the Raptors can only hope their big man, who can also drop tre’s, stays healthy and stays in Toronto.

Typically, I have an issue with foreign big men because of their lack to drive. Bargnani is one of the few I respect, because he has a clutch shot, and isn’t afraid to hit the deck.

C – Tyson Chandler – New York Knicks

I literally spit up coffee I wasn’t drinking when I found out the 2011-12 Defensive Player of the Year was voted to the NBA’s All-Defensive Second Team.

Really, guys?

I’d have to imagine something would have to budge, but that’s the NBA for you. Also, I’m tired of writing about players who would have effected their team even more despite injury, so you can just fill in the blanks for Chandler too.

This was a terrific pick up for James Dolan and that troubled organization, and a good heads up for bouncing out of Dallas on Chandler’s part. I’ll revoke that previous statement if Deron Williams leaves for Dallas, but as of right now, the Knicks future is relatively bright. Averaging just shy of a double-double with 11.3 points and 9.9 rebounds per game, Chandler truly was the defense for the Knicks.

Atlantic Division 2011-12 MVP

Carmelo Anthony – New York Knicks

Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images

Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images

No single player led his team more than Carmelo did for the Knicks.

Surrounded by controversy and superfluous attention, Carmelo proved he is – and will be – the leader of the Knicks. He single-handedly took over late in the season, when an eight-seed playoff spot wasn’t assured. Personally, I have issues pondering if it’s possible for the Knicks to ever win a championship with the responsibility on Carmelo’s shoulders, but we’ll just keep watching him play like this until the Knicks are surrounded with a better surrounding cast.

2011-12 Atlantic Division Defensive Player of the Year

Tyson Chandler – New York Knicks

I promise this isn’t going to be a Broadway show with only Knicks picks, but the field is pretty bleak defensively in the Atlantic Division.

I won’t reiterate why Chandler was placed on the All-Defensive Second Team, but as far as the Atlantic Division goes, Chandler did his thang. He average 1.35 blocks per game, with several games concluding with multiple blocks.

Chandler was the piece of the puzzle that kept the Knicks in the game during close encounters.

2011-12 Atlantic Division Rookie of the Year

MarShon Brooks – Brooklyn Nets

Truly unexpectedly, rookie MarShon Brooks filled a huge role for the Brooklyn Nets this season. It helped he was one of the few players that remained healthy, but Brooks’ 12.6 points and 3.6 rebounds per game helped the Nets in more games than none.

(Side Note: Philadelphia 76ers Featured Writer Zach Trombly was in math class with MarShon at Providence College)

2011-12 Atlantic Division Sixth Man of the Year

Lou Williams – Philadelphia 76ers

I’m not breaking news I hope with this selection.

Lou Williams could probably start on most NBA teams, but for the 76ers he became the go-to man. Dropping 14.9 points per game is starter worthy, but he’s in a similar position that James Harden is in. He’s just enough to lead the second squad while the starters get a breather.

With him healthy, the 76ers will continue to rise in the East.

2011-12 Atlantic Division Coach of the Year

Doug Collins – Philadelphia 76ers

I feel like Doc Rivers would be the obvious choice every season in the Atlantic Division, but the Celtics truly were vulnerable this year. The 76ers came out with a bang, and managed to hang on into the post-season.

Posting a record of 35-31, the 76ers became respectable again. I can’t counter in his postseason excellence by default, but you get the picture.