Have a drink, we’re handing out awards.
The Sonny Weems Award
This is the guy who you ignore in training camp because you’ve never heard of him, or have done so in the slightest passing. He’s got some ‘tools’, looks like he should be able to do something positive, but given the depth and rotation, is likely consigned to the bench. He ends up surprising, perhaps even usurping someone for a few games before being anointed as part of that elusive ‘core’, only to be soon after flushed down the toilet.
I nominate Dominic McGuire. Mostly because the three is a question mark and this guy’s got the potential to win the hearts of the fans by diving for a loose ball in a 102-78 game. Toronto loves that.
The Jose Calderon Award
Oft times you see a guy come off the bench to perform at a level (albeit against the second unit) that surpasses your expectations of him, and that warm place in your heart calls to see more of him, perhaps even in a starting capacity. It’s pure nature, perhaps even resigned to being part of the human psyche. Your better half tells you that these thoughts should be put away lest you be called for having a ticket on some bandwagon, so you stuff these feelings aside. Then one morning, someone else has the same thought and the whisper turns into chatter, and soon the chatter into roar. It’s only a matter of time when this honest soul, who had made a fine living on the bench, is expected to perform in equal measure against exponentially better players. Of course, he falters and sometimes fails, and now we look silly.
This man is John Lucas III.
The Hedo Turkoglu Award
Naught has been there a summer where a signing didn’t disappoint, and so we are forced to pick one from the crop of the present year. Granted, there can be no one worse than Turkoglu. We could’ve signed a blind one-legged dwarf and he would’ve had a greater impact than what Turkoglu did, but when naming awards we must strive for the best and be bold, so it is reasons pure to heart that this award is named such. The signings of this summer aren’t highly questionable like in years past, so the chance of true regret is low, which bodes well for our heroes, yet alas, we must pick a man.
It has to be Landry Fields, who had a sluggish preseason and didn’t show much of the three-point sniping that he was acquired for. The abhorred preseason isn’t an indicator of much, but I find it hard to convince my skeptical self that he can shoot close to 40% from three again. He may be able to boast of other traits that weren’t expected of him, like defense and ball-handling to make up for it, but in the shooting category, he may be a disappointment. Still, even if he shoots 11% from three and has 30 game-losing goaltends, he’s nowhere close to the stain that was Hedo.
The First Year TJ Ford Award
Named after the enigmatic point guard best known for dribbling, dribbling, dribbling, and dribbling, the first-year version of this award is given to a player who instantly gratifies, much like the employees at the Rail. He paints himself as the “missing piece”, a cog in the wheel that not only facilitates the machine, but puts it on his back and runs with it. He can shoot (sometimes), and looks like he plays defense, wears his heart on the sleeve, and unlike the winner of the Sonny Weems Award, has actual talent. The first year is a breeze, but it’s the year after that question marks may arise.
Kyle Lowry is TJ Ford. With defense, strength, and less the ball hoggy and chronic injury.
The Chris Bosh Award
Awarded to the guy your emotions have switched off to, and the heard doesn’t get too happy or upset about no more. There were times when you looked to him to be ‘The One’, and then your expectations settled to something more reasonable, before you finally convinced yourself it’s best to take what’s given, which isn’t too bad. This award is a mixed bag of cacophony, where on the one hand the player is being recognized for continuous and consistent service, yet askance gazes are being cast at the mystical creature so much was expected of.
Andrea Bargnani, take a bow. If there’s going to be a lifer Raptor, it’s not Jose but him.