Barring a late charge from the Houston Rockets to get Carmelo Anthony, the NBA offseason news and drama is finally coming to an end after the completion of the Kyrie Irving trade. The real winners and losers won’t be clear until the games tip-off in two months, but for now, let’s look back at some of the more atypical story lines that made this offseason enjoyable.
Here are our 2017 Offseason Awards.
The Glazed Donut Face Ass Award for Best Social Media (Single Performance): Hassan “CSI” Whiteside
Talking to yourself and making it sound interesting is an art, and Hassan Whiteside paints a masterpiece with this video. In fact, I look forward to CBS developing this into a series once Whiteside retires. I would watch 22 episodes of CSI: Whiteside in Miami. Wouldn’t you?
The Evan Turner Award for Best Social Media (Entire Offseason): Kevin Durant
yea that's why I play for the warriors now lol— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) June 15, 2017
bro, I'm gettin old as hell smh. Nice stroll down memory lane! Thanks— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) June 19, 2017
Last month, I wrote about Durant and talked to some of the people he laboriously replied to and went after on social media following the Finals. Some thought it was more funny than anything, and most were pleasantly surprised at how cool it felt to be @-ed by the Finals MVP. They all liked that it was genuine. KD’s decision to not just return to social media but fully relish in the conversational aspect of the medium represented the rare time when a superstar reaches the point where honesty and true personality matter more than image or public perception.
The Daryl Morey Award for Best Cap-Savvy Move: Um. Daryl Morey?
Getting all those random guys for cash considerations and somehow wrangling a trade for Chris Paul was masterful. Now if Mike D’Antoni can only figure out how to play Paul and James Harden together, he might deserve another award—Coach of the Year.
The Uncle Drew Award for Best Alternate Offseason Persona: Hoodie Melo
The inaugural award deserves to be named after its patron saint, who will own any basketball court in the land should the magic hood flip over his head. Offseason highlights are typically meaningless crumbs to hold us over and force us to overreact. But Hoodie Melo is particularly frustrating because it’s the Carmelo Anthony everyone knows he can be.
Whether he’s in New York or Houston, Melo needs a Nike Dri-FIT hoodie to put under his jersey, and Adam Silver needs to approve it. We need this now more than ever.
The LinkedIn Award for Most Connections Made Outside the NBA: Draymond Green
While KD is entering Silicon Valley, Steph continues to be Steph, and Klay expands internationally. Draymond is making connections. This summer, he went to Wimbledon and chatted with Sam Querrey. He partied with Neymar in Ibiza. He went to the Miami Clasico and exchanged jerseys with Piqué. He texted with Drake, said Phil Hellmuth was “his guy,” and lobbied for a role on Ballers. You gotta network to get more.
The Stephen Jackson Award for Best Quote: Rob Pelinka
“I would venture to guess there’s people in the room that are familiar with the stories in the Book of Genesis, where there was a time when the Israelites were wandering in the desert and all [of a] sudden bread came down from heaven. That’s kind of what today feels like for us to have KCP join.”
I don’t think I need to add anything to this, except that this story is from the Book of Exodus, not Genesis.
The Reverse Scapegoat Award: David Griffin
The only thing that shot up faster than David Griffin’s stock this summer was the chance that LeBron leaves Cleveland for L.A. in a year. Griffin was a solid GM for a very tumultuous franchise, and he was the engineer behind a championship team. But that wasn’t enough for Dan Gilbert, and he and Griffin mutually agreed to part ways right before the NBA draft, when Griffin was working on a trade for Paul George. Now, the Cavs head into this season without Kyrie Irving and underneath a cloud of uncertainty. Meanwhile, Griffin is probably enjoying his vacation.
The Muscle Watch Award: Julius Randle
The accomplishment here isn’t so much getting fit as it is letting others—namely, Basketball Twitter—know you’re fit. The distribution process matters as much as the product. Whether at the Drew League or at the Lakers’ practice facility, Randle made sure his fitness evolution was publicized. He looks ready for 2017.
The “On That Grind” Award for Best Intentionally Leaked Workout Video: D’Angelo Russell
Look, Russell has every reason to be doing this. Once the Lakers traded him to Brooklyn, they made sure to take every chance they could to publicly note how much better at ball movement and ball sharing they were going to be with Lonzo now leading the point. The chip on D-Lo’s shoulder is going to be so massive that it might actually hinder his shooting. Either way, a reboot for Russell in a place that will embrace him could be the best thing that’s happened to him.
The “Any Press Is Good Press” Award: LaVar Ball
LaVar lives by this mantra. He had no problem demanding the removal of a female ref during an AAU game and taking his team off the court. He had no issue appearing on TV all the time in order to argue repeated debates and over-the-top points. He finds no contention in giving his youngest son, who is still in high school, a signature BBB shoe. And now, as if the publicity wasn’t enough, the whole Ball family has their own reality show. I can’t keep up. That he can keep going is impressive on its own.
The Mike Conley Award for Guy Who Got Paid and Will Now Be Criticized Endlessly: Jrue Holiday
Mike Conley got a bad rap for happening to be a free agent during the biggest cap spike in ages. And so, context aside, the basketball-conscious public saw the number ($152 million) attached to his five-year deal and chose to use it against him. Conley is a perfectly serviceable point guard, an underrated one in basketball discourse, even. The same, though on different levels, is true of Jrue Holiday, who this summer was signed to a deal that is paying between $25 and $27 million per year through 2022. The Pelicans, who are trying to retain a core around Anthony Davis, had no choice but to give him the money. The chances of living up to the expectations that come with it are slim, but Holiday is 27 and has the potential to make this deal slightly more palatable.
The Rookie Who Had the Best Summer: Lonzo Ball
Leading up to the draft, this answer would have been Josh Jackson, who was seemingly the most coveted player, since everyone reportedly wanted to trade up or down to get him. Right after the draft, Markelle Fultz actually smiled, so maybe the winner was him. But in totality, no one owned the summer more than Lonzo Ball. And not because of his dad.
From the moment he stepped on the court in Vegas, everyone could tell there was something compelling and different about his game. He was electrifying, magnetic, and entrancing, giving Lakers fans hope and traditional point guard enthusiasts life. The ceiling keeps rising.