Those familiar with the site know that we usually vote on a series of awards around the 1/3 mark, the 2/3, and the end of each season. We figure everybody does it halfway through so we avoid the crowd that way. The 1/3 point of 2009-10 has technically gone by but we're still close enough to make such a vote legit. Except this year we have a new problem: there just aren't enough players to consider. Seriously, injuries have blown such a hole in the roster that an entire awards series won't float at this point. Want to see something simultaneously sobering and ridiculous? Check out this Blazers depth chart from ESPN.com. Look at the reserve positions. Sick.
Anyway, instead of posting all the different categories and calling for votes I'm just going to list the categories in this post, nominate somebody myself, and let you comment, contrast, and/or vote yourselves below. It won't be as official as usual but maybe the full ballot can return at the 2/3 mark (along with some of our players). So here you go...
Most Valuable Player
Traditionally this has been the MVP(BR) Award, "Most Valuable Player (Besides Roy)". Brandon has always walked away with team M.V.P. honors hands down and it seemed unfair to exclude everyone else in favor of a near-unanimous landslide for Brandon. But this year we don't have many "everybody elses" so we're lifting the qualifier and making this the straight M.V.P.
Of course it still goes to Brandon. It probably would even if everyone were healthy but the gap isn't as great as it once was, which is a good sign. Nevertheless he's been constantly productive, the only variable being how long it takes him to produce in a given game. It hasn't been a perfect season for him but we wouldn't have won half the games we have without him. I'll be curious if somebody can find another candidate though.
Most Valuable Defensive Player
This is tricky because if you consider the team on Monday, December 21st there's only one answer. But even though Greg Oden's injury seems centuries ago now it was only 9 games. And in the first 20 games of the season Oden is my vote. Nobody changed the interior defense as much as he. Nobody intimidated like he did. Nobody allowed the perimeter defenders as much security. It'll have to change when we're 55 games through instead of 29, but Oden gets my vote for the first third of the season.
Most Inspirational Player
Here's where I'm going to put the guy that many will want to list for the defensive award: Joel Przybilla. As always he's done everything asked of him, starter or reserve, big minutes or small. He has bad games like everyone but they're less noticeable and spaced farther apart than most. I can't imagine anyone looking at Joel fighting and helping teammates out and not feeling it's worth it to do the same.
Here's a request of the entire roster, though. We're seeing relatively few hand-slaps, high-fives, congratulations, and affirming nods this year. I know it's been a tough season but could we all start to pick each other up a little more and not just when the spectacular play or 30-point game comes around?
Biggest Pleasant Surprise
This is a tough one. Usually we field three or four good candidates. I'm hard-pressed to think of a good one right now. Bayless has had a good run lately but it's been short and it's not wholly unexpected. Dante Cunningham is at least playing a little but he's not had even a great run yet. Juwan Howard scoring for a few games? I'm just going to punt this and let you have at it.
Further proof that the year is inverted: we have a surfeit of candidates here. You could even potentially talk about injured players or the way guys played prior to their injuries, which means 80% of the roster is eligible. I'm going to avoid that though and go with Andre Miller. We always knew there was a best case-worst case element to his signing but so far it's been more worst than best. I'm not sure that's his fault entirely. It's just that the ideal was much more.
Those are my attempt to fill the ballot. Make your own nominations below if you wish.