Most Valuable Player
CHRIS WEBBER, Kings. His scoring (27.3 points per game at week's
end), board work (11.4 rebounds) and often overlooked passing
(4.2 assists) have elevated Sacramento to membership in the
league's elite. Allen Iverson may be equally indispensable to the
76ers, but as a Western Conference power forward, Webber faces
All-Star-caliber competition on an almost nightly basis in Kevin
Garnett, Karl Malone, Antonio McDyess, Dirk Nowitzki and Rasheed
Rookie of the Year
MARC JACKSON, Warriors. Usually, the only award a player with his
resume (second-round pick from Temple in '97, one year in Turkey,
two in Spain) gets is a 10-day contract, but the 26-year-old
Jackson has shown a polished game in the pivot.
RUBEN PATTERSON, Sonics. He performs the classic function of a
sixth man: injecting his team with a dose of energy. The 6'5"
Patterson changes the pace of the game with his slashes to the
basket and his tireless work on the offensive boards.
Most Improved Player
TRACY MCGRADY, Magic. The blossoming of Mavericks point guard
Steve Nash and of Kings forward Peja Stojakovic have been
essential to their teams' improvement, but no one has made as
dramatic a leap as McGrady, who went from being a sometime
starter with the Raptors to an All-Star starter this year. His
scoring average has jumped 10.9 points to 26.3 through Sunday,
the biggest improvement in the league.
THEO RATLIFF, 76ers. Even though he's out until mid-March with a
broken right wrist, the shot-blocking Ratliff is the pick. The
key to Philly's stingy defense, Ratliff not only takes away his
own man's post-up game, but can also stymie an entire team around
the basket with his weakside help.
Coach of the Year
DAN ISSEL, Nuggets. He was the popular preseason choice as the
coach most likely to be fired, and he had to quell a player
revolt in December. Still he somehow has Denver in the playoff
hunt. Larry Brown's work with the Sixers can't be ignored, but
there's no tougher task for a coach than regaining control of a
team that has turned on him.
Executive of the Year
GEOFF PETRIE, Kings. Pat Riley made flashier moves for the Heat,
trading for forward Brian Grant and guard Eddie Jones, but
Petrie's subtler deals have turned Sacramento into a contender.
By trading forward Corliss Williamson to the Raptors for guard
Doug Christie, he simultaneously opened up a starting spot for
Stojakovic and upgraded the Kings' previously porous defense,
which he further bolstered by adding backup point guard Bobby
VINCE CARTER, F, Raptors
CHRIS WEBBER, F, Kings
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL, C, Lakers
ALLEN IVERSON, G, 76ers
KOBE BRYANT, G, Lakers
TRACY MCGRADY, F, Magic
KEVIN GARNETT, F, Timberwolves
THEO RATLIFF, C, 76ers
JERRY STACKHOUSE, G, Pistons
JASON KIDD, G, Suns
COLOR PHOTO: NOREN TROTMAN/NBA ENTERTAINMENT With his scoring way up, McGrady is the top contender for Most Improved.