Anyway, I was kind of waiting for the ballot to be revealed to make preseason picks, since I knew it wasn't going to be too far into the season. But I really didn't need to. I could've made these picks at the end of last year with 100% certainty.
For the East, it'll be Rose, Wade, James, Anthony, and Howard. For the West: Paul, Bryant, Durant, Griffin, and Bynum. (This is all assuming nobody gets traded cross-conference of course. And even if they do, the most likely change will just be swapping Bynum and Howard. Also assuming nobody gets injured - and that might not make a difference anyway. *cough* Yao Ming *cough*) The only one I wasn't entirely sold on was Bynum, but after seeing what the rest of the West has to offer on the ballot, I'm completely comfortable with that. And after seeing his monster start, I'm even more comfortable with it.
The only potential upset I could see is Griffin, since he'll have Gasol, Nowitzki, and Duncan nipping at his heels. But I think everyone would rather see Griffin dunk than Gasol or Nowitzki shoot, or Duncan age, so I'm sticking with him. If that holds up, Los Angeles will have 80% of the starters on the floor, which is neither here nor there, just sort of interesting.
As for the other awards:
MVP: I've got Chris Paul here. I know the Clippers haven't had quite as excellent a start as everyone expected. But really, those expectations were sky high anyway. I think if they manage to win the division and snag a top 3 playoff spot, everyone will be so blown away and amazed that the Clippers won their division and snagged a top 3 playoff spot, that everyone will look at Paul and give him the credit for the drastic improvement. If it's not him, it'll be James. But I'm sticking with Paul.
Rookie of the Year: This is always a really tough award for me to guess. I don't pay nearly enough attention to college basketball to know which guys will succeed at the NBA level. I know enough to know which guys were good last year in college - but not well enough to know how their games will transition. I can only go by past ROY voting results and compare. It pretty much has to be someone taken in the lottery, and on a bad enough team to get a lot of minutes to build up stats. And young point guards usually seem to take a few years to get the feel of the game at the NBA level (so I'm ruling out Irving.) Same goes for young big men, most of whom aren't used to the levels of physicality in the NBA. It seems like the best bet is someone who relies heavily on great outside shooting, which would be the least effected going from college to the pros. Therefore, I'm going to go with Jimmer Fredette.
Other guys I like for the award as possibilities: Derrick Williams (not sure he'll get enough minutes with Beasley/Love/Milicic in front of him, plus the size/rebounding issues mentioned above), Tristan Thompson (ditto, but with Casspi/Jamison/Varejao), and Ricky Rubio (young point guard, but played a lot overseas, so he might be fine.)
Defensive Player of the Year: Dwight Howard. It's his award to lose every year until further notice.
Most Improved Player: Don't know. Don't care.
Sixth Man of the Year: Don't know. Don't care.
(Picking forwards for the third team is like throwing darts - any one of the slots could just as easily be Amare Stoudemire, Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, Zach Randolph, or even Kevin Garnett or Tim Duncan if they can somehow stave off Father Time for another year. So, really, take your pick between any of those guys. I'd also entertain Deron Williams on the third team, but I'm pretty sure he's going to be totally checked out this year.)