Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Fifth Annual Rumblin' Awards

Yesterday, the Pac-12 released their seasonal awards (Congrats to Derrick White for his 1st Team All-Conference and All-Defensive Team honors!). Never satisfied with the musing of coaches and professional pundits, however, I'm going to delve into who I believe should have been honored by the conference this year.

After the jump, find my choices for the All-Pac-12 1st and 2nd teams, along with my Player, Coach, Defender, and Newcomer of the Year.

Please remember that the Rumblin' Awards are a strictly black tie affair.

All Pac-12 First Team -
(presented in alphabetical order)

- Bryce Alford - G - UCLA - 16.5 ppg, 134 Ortg, 45% 3FG
#DaddyBall had an uproariously successful final season.  The nasty shooting specialist at the tail of UCLA's dreaded scoring dragon, Alford was eight-tenths clear of any other qualifying shooter in the league, in terms of three-point percentage, hitting 104 of 229 attempts.  As a result, he was the league-leader in Offensive Rating, and one of the most efficient specialists in the entire nation.  Really, one of the best shooters in league history, if you think about it. Absolutely eviscerated the Buffs in Boulder, too.

- Lonzo Ball - G - UCLA - 7.8 APG, 2 SPG, 6.2 Win Shares, 132.7 Ortg, 71.6 2FG
Has any freshman come into the league and dominated so clearly?  In every aspect of the game, Lonzo was heads and shoulders above the competition.  From silky smooth passes to assassin-like efficiency inside of 15-ft, from game-breaking steals to Steph-esque 30-ft bombs, Ball could do it all. He ended up leading the league in assists (by a full two per game), eFG%, win shares, and two-point shooting.  So free and easy, he plays within the game to make everyone around him better.  Without him, UCLA finishes 9-9, or worse.

- Jordan Bell - F/C - Oregon - 10.8 PPG, 2.1 BPG, 87.2 Drtg, 1.4 SPG, 2.5 defensive win shares 
One of the most dynamic defensive threats in the conference, Bell in a constant worry around the rim. More than that, however, this year he became an all-around producer, chipping in double-digit points per game, and posting an in-conference Ortg over 131.  A relentless motor with abundant athleticism, I'll be glad when he's no longer anchoring the Oregon front-court.  Even more than heralded teammate Dillon Brooks, I consider him the best player in the Swoosh fiefdom.

- Lorenzo Bonam - G - Utah - 12.7 PPG, 123.5 Ortg, 68 TS%, 70% 2FG, 1.4 SPG
From: the SL Trib
Possibly my most controversial addition to this list, Bonam is the gritty soul in the Utes attack.  He's everywhere and anywhere in the Utah backcourt, fueling their slashing ways with deadly efficiency inside the arc.  If he gets past you on the edge, you might as well just count it as two points, with his 77% shooting at the rim.  As a result, he led the league in TS% and helped drag the Utes to more wins than they reasonably should've expected this season.

- Dillon Brooks - G/F - Oregon - 16 ppg, 28.0 PER, 32.1 Usg, 42% 3FG
From: Zagsblog
Dillon may not have had the breakout performance of a year ago, but he was still the unstoppable force propelling Oregon to their second-consecutive league title.  He struggled with some injury issues, the flopping fiasco, and his usual foul trouble (4.5/40 min), but still put up some fantastic numbers, leading the league in PER.  No one in the Pac-12 took a larger percentage of his team's shots while on the floor, either.  A little more of a perimeter threat this year, he also improved his three-point shooting over previous campaigns.  Still deadly off the bounce.

- Markelle Fultz - G - Washington - 23.3 PPG, 5.9 APG, 35.7 MPG, 27.9 PER, 31.3 Usg
From: the Seattle Times
A tough case for me.  Markelle is obviously talented in the extreme, but he missed five of his team's last seven games, and the Huskies were a raging dumpster fire all season long.  In the end, the preponderance of his statistical success led me to put him in my first team, but not without a long internal struggle. Don't get me wrong, he's a fantastic player, but this is a team game, and his team couldn't win.  Still, hard to argue with a guy who scored 14 more points than any other player in the conference, despite playing in five fewer games.

- Kyle Kuzma - F - Utah - 16 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 11.6 OR%, 27.1 Usg
From: the SL Trib
The Utes' double-double threat, a breakout season from Kuzma helped Utah recover from the frontline loss of Jakob Poeltl.  One of the best overall rebounders in the West and an efficient scorer across the spectrum, it's hard to get much better than this kid.  I especially liked how his shooting numbers tic'd up against Pac-12 competition.  Hard to guard and hard to attack.

- TJ Leaf - F - UCLA - 16.3 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 133.1 Ortg, 5.2 WS, 63% FG
From: the LA Times
With Lonzo Ball being so spectacular, it's sometimes hard to remember that he isn't the only superstar freshman on the Bruins' roster.  TJ Leaf was a similar youthful revelation for the stoic UCLA fanbase, showing off his extreme offensive efficiency throughout the season.  Just deadly around the rim (81.8% shooting), he was similarly fantastic with a mid-range shot and the occasional three-pointer. An offensive wunderkind, he was also strong on the glass, where he finished top-15 in rebounding rates.  Just a fun talent to watch ply his trade.

- Lauri Markkanen - F/C - Arizona - 15.2 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 132.8 Ortg, 5.6 WS, 42.8% 3FG, 83.7% FT
From: BleacherReport
I may not be as infatuated with the young Finn as others, but I'd be a damn fool not to recognize his effect on the offensive side of things for Arizona.  A solid outside shooter, he may not play at the rim, but Lauri is a nightmare to guard away from it. He was also #1 with a bullet at the line, hitting 84% of his freebies in conference play.  Rare to see a big man so good at the stripe.  Away from the ball, he was also a top-10 rebounder in the league.  A very unique figure atop the UofA roster.

- Derrick White - G - Colorado - 17 PPG, 4.3 APG, 1.5 BPG, 122.8 Ortg, 5.1 WS, 5.3 FD/40
From: the BDC
Such a fantastic story, the ascension from DII to the heights of DI competition is complete for the product of Parker, CO.  Derrick clearly deserves this honor, playing well across the entire spectrum of the game. He produced the 3rd most points in the league while 'only' getting used on 24.7% of possessions, and posted 5.2 win shares (4th in the league) despite being on a team that didn't win as many games as those around him in the rankings.  White was also 2nd in the league in made free throws despite not getting the 'star treatment' from the officials and 6th in the league in blocks despite being a point guard.  Just an outstanding, unique player and narrative, the likes of which we may never see again.


All Pac-12 Second Team -
(presented in alphabetical order)

- Torian Graham - G - Arizona St. - 18.2 PPG, 91.5 %Min (conf), 98 3-Pt, 9.3 TORate
An ironman for the Sun Devils, Graham was a sneaky good scorer who took more three-point attempts than anyone else in the league.  Finished 2nd in scoring.

- Chimezie Metu - F/C - USC - 14.4 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 1.6 BPG, 54.7% FG
From: USA Today
Took a major leap forward in the paint for the Trojans this season, becoming a complete player on both ends of the court.  CU couldn't stop him from scoring in the 1st half in Boulder.

- Ivan Rabb - F - Cal - 14.3 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 1.6 APG, 25.8 DR%, 2.4 DWS, 55.7 FTRate
From: the Mercury News
He may not have completely lived up to the promise assumed in his return to campus, but Rabb was, nonetheless, a fantastic player for the Bears this year.  2nd in the league in both DR% and FTRate.

- Stephen Thompson Jr. - G - Oregon St. - 16 PPG, 36.1 MPG 30.5 %Shots, 38.1% 3FG (conf)
From: Getty Images
With Tres Tinkle out for most of the year, Thompson was really the only spark of life in an otherwise dreadful season for the Beavs.  Beat plenty of double-teams to light up the scoreboard.

- Reid Travis - F - Stanford - 17.2 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 13.4 OR%, 25.4 PER, 27.9 Usg
From: CSN Bay Area
I picked Travis over Wazzou's Josh Hawkinson for the final spot because he brought great offensive stats to the party, along with the great rebounding numbers.  Not really a big defensive presence, though. Led the league in offensive rebounding rate.


Individual Awards

Player of the Year - Lonzo Ball
From: Scout
Runner-up - Derrick White

I went with Lonzo here, and I really question any other choice.  His ability to affect the game, on both ends, was beyond anyone else in the conference this year.  Any comparisons, stylistically, to Magic Johnson aren't all that wild, with the young freshman's ability to shoot, drive, and assist with a smooth flair undisputed.  He can also take and make back-breaking three-pointers from just over the midcourt line, making him the deadliest offensive player in the league.  Oh, and he can also play outstanding defense, cutting into passing lanes and ripping steals with the best of them.

For the runner-up, I looked past Dillon Brooks to Derrick White simply because I didn't feel that Brooks was clearly the best player on his team.  Derrick, however, was.

Coach of the Year - N/A
Runner-up - N/A

I'm not handing out a coaching award this year.  My first instinct was to give it to Dana Altman, but screw him.  Similarly, Sean Miller has the best resources at hand, so I assign him relatively lesser credit for doing what should be expected.  I also considered Larry Krystkowiak, but his scheduling decisions cost his team a spot in the Dance, which is essentially criminal.  That would've just left UCLA's Steve Alford, but then I got to thinking about how all-around sucky the league was this season (past the top-three), and just decided to spike the thing.  Moving on...

Defensive Player of the Year - Jordan Bell
From: Daily Emerald
Runner-up - Kingsley Okoroh

Oooooh is Jordan Bell good.  So good, in fact, that he shot past last year's winner of this award, Chris Boucher, to nab it for himself.  Athletic and nasty around the rim, he led the league in both defensive rating and defensive win shares, while slotting in the top-three in blocks and 6th in the Pac-12 in steals.  Bouncy, fun, and dangerous with opponents headed towards the rim, it's easy to see why Oregon gets so many transition baskets with the likes of Jordan underneath.

For the runner-up, I would challenge anyone who disputes this choice to check the film.  Rabb is a great anchor for the Bears, to be sure, but Kingsley is the one who does the dirty work and keeps the opponents off the scoreboard.

Freshman of the Year - Lonzo Ball
From: the SL Trib
Runner-up - Markelle Fultz

If you're going to win the league MVP as a frosh, you better also pick up the FOY award.  No real contention here.  The runner-up does go to Markelle, but with the consternation noted in his blurb above -- I just have to take major points off for how terrible his team was.  I'll give some leeway in this category from time to time, but, if you're that good, your tide should be lifting all the other boats around you, too.

Congrats to the winners!  Your trophies are in the mail, I promise.

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