Tuesday October 23rd, 2007

MVP: LeBron James, F, Cavaliers He's without a doubt the front-runner after single-handedly leading an underwhelming Cleveland team to the Finals last season. Runner-up: Paul Pierce, F, Celtics

Rookie of the Year: Luis Scola, F, Rockets This versatile 27-year-old Argentine will beat out two more traditional newcomers, Kevin Durant and Al Thornton, to become the oldest winner ever. Runner-up: Kevin Durant, F, SuperSonics

Coach of the Year: Doc Rivers, Celtics He will deserve credit for melding his three stars with young role players. Runner-up: Rick Adelman, Rockets

Defensive Player of the Year: Bruce Bowen, F, Spurs Some may not like his physical style, but his blanket coverage merits recognition. Runner-up: Rasheed Wallace, F-C, Pistons

Most Improved Player: Andrea Bargnani, F, Raptors Comparisons with Dirk Nowitzki will abound in this 7-footer's second year. Runner-up: Darko Milicic, F-C, Grizzlies

Executive of the Year: Danny Ainge, Celtics A no-brainer once Ainge's trades take Boston from the bottom of the East to the top. Runner-up: Chris Wallace, Grizzlies

First Team C Yao Ming, Rockets F Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks F LeBron James, Cavaliers G Paul Pierce, Celtics G Steve Nash, Suns

Second Team C Tim Duncan, Spurs F Kevin Garnett, Celtics F Carmelo Anthony, Nuggets G Dwyane Wade, Heat G Tony Parker, Spurs

Rajon Rondo, G, Celtics Can he become Boston's version of Tony Parker?

Tyrus Thomas, F, Bulls A breakout season as a post scorer would elevate Chicago to title contender.

Jason Maxiell, F, Pistons His athleticism should help invigorate an aging front line.

Dorell Wright, G-F, Heat Pat Riley desperately needs Wright's young legs.

Andray Blatche, F, Wizards This third-year preps-to-pros must fill in for the stricken Etan Thomas.

Nate Robinson, G, Knicks Believe it or not, he can be the true point guard that New York needs.

Darko Milicic, F-C, Grizzlies As a complement to Pau Gasol, he may finally fulfill his potential.

Al Jefferson, F, Timberwolves He faces enormous expectations as Kevin Garnett's replacement.

LaMarcus Aldridge, F, Trail Blazers A multiskilled forward, he has to carry Portland without Greg Oden.

Jermaine O'Neal, F, Pacers To unload his $64.1 million contract, rebuilding Indy will have to take less than equal value.

Jason Kidd, G, and Richard Jefferson, F, Nets New Jersey considered trading both these stars last season.

Shawn Marion, F, Suns He wants out of Phoenix, but the team has found no takers.

Mike Bibby, G, and Ron Artest, F, Kings Sacramento will again try to deal the former and would consider moving the latter.

Andrei Kirilenko, G, Jazz Unfortunately for him, Utah can't make a trade with a Russian team.

The Knicks' resurgence An us-versus-the-world attitude drives Isiah Thomas's crew into the playoffs.

Kobe Bryant's trade demands The Lakers will try to pacify him by dealing for a complementary star.

The Nuggets' soap opera The league's most contentious locker room is also among the most talented.

Yao Ming's blossoming In Rick Adelman's fluid offense, Yao will use his vision and creativity to become the giant playmaker everyone knew he could be.

The anticipated divorce of the Sonics and Seattle But don't rule out an 11th-hour deal preventing a move to Oklahoma City.

Antawn Jamison, F, Wizards This active scorer and rebounder is also a good teammate.

Jason Williams, G, Heat To raise his value, he will have to guide Miami on a long playoff run.

Ron Artest*, F, Kings He must stay out of trouble while restoring his reputation for defense.

Corey Maggette*, F, Clippers Can he play unselfishly and demonstrate any leadership skills?

(*can opt out this summer)

Eddie Jordan, Wizards Last year's All-Star Game coach from the East must upgrade his team's D to contend.

Mike Brown, Cavaliers He's improved Cleveland's defense but will have a hard time matching last year's playoff run.

Mike Dunleavy, Clippers The owner's increase in spending hasn't paid off, and Dunleavy will take the blame.

George Karl, Nuggets Despite a high payroll, Denver has won just two playoff games in Karl's two seasons.

Lawrence Frank, Nets Entering his fourth season, he might need a deep playoff run to save his job.

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