We are entering awards season and while I’m not about to make too many picks, I do think Argo and Silver Linings Playbook will be announced frequently this coming Sunday.
But just as these films get some late sprucing as Oscar Sunday is approached, some late hoopla and for your consideration moments, so too do the candidates for Pac POY. As sports fans, we’re fully aware of moments and celebrate those who capture them. While Derrick Williams was walking away with the POY award, his depositing of Darnell Gant’s shot was a POY moment. I suppose for Jorge it was some charge he took.
But here we are at the homestretch, the final time to showcase one’s goods for award consideration and as I see it today, we have just a handful of POY contenders. The field:
- Allen Crabbe: 20/6/3
- Jahii Carson: 18/3/5
- Spencer Dinwiddie: 15/3/3
- Shabazz Muhammad: 19/5/1
- C.J. Wilcox: 18/5/2
Other names could be dropped into that list but then we’re just building out an All-Conference team and we’re not here for that. We’re looking for the one and even this list feels long. But the Academy is now dropping ten films into consideration so I figure we can extend ours to five.
Now I haven’t the slightest clue what the voting criteria are. I don’t know if this is an award given to the best player or the most valuable one but as it were, looking back historically, it appears the award is given to the conference’s best player which tends to also be the most valuable. An easy overlap. Just rattling off the last few winners’ names you get that sense: Williams, Randle, Love, Harden, Afflalo, Roy. All very recognizable names.
Team success often plays a part which is why Brock Motum didn’t win last years award and the coaches decided to give Jorge a career achievement award.
But this year, as is clear by the above list of studs and their output, there’s a legitimate battle for the award. Interestingly, Arizona and Oregon have such balanced production that their best players have played their way out of POY contention (though I think they’ll be OK with a conference title or a nice March run in its stead).
Diving into that list, I’ll say that I really like Spencer Dinwiddie’s game. I think he’s a complete guard with tremendous size and a league future. I don’t think he’s going to win this award. That’s not to drop him from this list, he makes it in my mind as an MVP-type, but as POYs go, he’s not yet there. And while CJ Wilcox is one of the smoothest players in the league, 13ppg against the conference’s top three teams (AZ, Ore, UCLA) doesn’t exactly do it for me. One thing that definitely does it for NBA scouts is Shabazz’s mid-range game which is lethal considering his size and athleticism. But his game is relatively mono-faceted – scorer – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just would seem to eliminate him from the POY race. His team does sit near the top of the conference but their collective success seems to have them in that position.
And so we’re left at two: Carson and Crabbe.
The former is a super freshman. He’s the centerpiece of ASU’s transformation into possible dancers and has been equal parts fantastic and valuable. Crabbe too has been great and perhaps overlooked until recently as his team has catapulted back into the top half of the conference standings.
So facing what appears to be this two man race and returning to the aforementioned moments, who will capture theirs?
I think Allen Crabbe is going to have a big chance tonight as his red hot Bears travel to Eugene to take on the first place Oregon Ducks. A big game here and Crabbe maintains POY-mentum. And this is really his biggest opportunity for a statement game. It’s the last team the Golden Bears play ahead of them in the standings; though big games against Colorado and/or in The Big Game (3/6) could go a long way in securing the award.
Last night, Carson did nothing to hurt his chances of POY-dom with 21/4/5 against the lowly Cougars. He’s vying to become just the third freshman to ever win the award, joining the likes of Kevin Love and Shareef Abdur-Rahim. Good company and his closing arguments could come in the form of big games on the road. A place the young man is learning to thrive. Remaining are contests at UCLA and at rival Arizona by which Carson could find his name etched onto the POY cup – or whatever it is they give the player.
But the overarching excitement here is that we are having a POY talk which means we’re remarkably close to what’s shaping up to be one of the maddest Marches in awhile.
As my buddy Jamie recently asked, “How do we get this sport year ’round?”
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