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NBA at midseason



Most Valuable Player: Much has been made of LeBron James turning the Cleveland Cavaliers into a potential playoff team and Shaquille O'Neal making the Miami Heat a championship contender, but has anyone had more of an impact than Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash?

Coach of the Year: Can someone win this honor after starting the season as a TV analyst? While Mike D'Antonio of Phoenix and Nate McMillan of Seattle will get their share of votes, Mike Fratello's return to the sideline has re-energized the Memphis Grizzlies with 22 wins in his 32 games.

Rookie of the Year: Ben Gordon, Luol Deng and Chris Duhon have played significant roles in the remarkable ascendancy of the Chicago Bulls, and No. 1 pick Dwight Howard has put up big rebounding numbers for the Orlando Magic, but Emeka Okafor's record for rookie double doubles should get him the nod in Charlotte.

Comeback Player of the Year: Just being healthy and in uniform was enough to get All-Star Grant Hill more than his share of sympathy votes. Hill has since helped the Magic back to respectability while showing signs of his old, dominant self.

Booby prizes

Most disappointing team: The Minnesota Timberwolves win this one by a landslide. A year after winning 58 games and the franchise's first playoff series, the T'wolves have been terrible, getting longtime coach Flip Saunders fired Feb. 12.

Most disappointing player: There's a Carmelo Anthony bandwagon going, but considering the fact that we're talking about a second-year player working on his third coach already, let's look elsewhere. How about to Anthony's teammate with the Denver Nuggets, free-agent bust Kenyon Martin?

Most disappointing coach: A lot of coaches are off the hook with reasonable excuses - Indiana's Rick Carlisle (suspensions), New Jersey's Lawrence Frank (offseason losses and Jason Kidd's injury), New Orleans' Byron Scott (injuries) - clearing the way for Saunders to pick this up from the unemployment line.

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