Five months ago we laid down the challenge for 10 very special NBA players. The challenge to prove their doubters wrong throughout the 2009-2010 NBA campaign. A combination of hyped draft picks turned busts, failing international projects, and guys who simply hadn’t lived up to the expectations that fans had held for them, whether fairly or unfairly. These aren’t your house-hold names, at least not yet.

Over the last five months a crew of fellow bloggers and NBAMate friends have had the pleasure (and in some cases displeasure) of watching the rise and fall of these players, while all along asking the burning question – are they proving the doubters wrong?

Well, the votes have now been tallied, and we finally have our inaugural Doubting Thomas Award winner. And it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Leading the pack for most of the season before slipping a little in February, Danilo Gallinari reminded us over the last month of the season just why he deserved that #1 mantle. He is, your Doubting Thomas Award winner for 2009-2010. Congratulations Gallo!

After dominating the rankings from November to January, Gallinari was challenged thanks to rise of Goran Dragic and the Suns. In many ways the odds were always stacked against Goran, coming off the bench behind Steve Nash on a playoff contender, versus the shabby Knicks where Gallo’s minutes wouldn’t be threatened. The fact Dragic finished only 4 votes behind Gallinari is a testament to his fine season.

In third place we had a tie-vote between the extremely consistent J.J Reddick and the fast-finishing Corey Brewer. Both players a stark contrast in style, talent, and team success – just another reason the Doubting Thomas Award has been so fascinating to watch all season. In 5th place was Channing Frye, who finished the season as half the player he was back in November and December. Maybe evidence of the Doubting Thomas curse? Who knows.

In 6th was Marco Belinelli, who never quite cracked the upper echelon of the DTA, but was undoubtedly a clear cut above the mediocrity that followed him in the rankings every month. That mediocrity was lead by the surging Chris Quinn in 7th place, followed by the bumbling Kwame Brown in 8th, the elusive Patrick O’Bryant in 9th, and the disappearing Roko Ukic in 10th – talk about a DTA curse, we forced this guy out of the league! I think it’s fair to say that following these players throughout the DTA Rankings this season has been immensely more entertaining than watching them on the court. Not that anyone would deliberately do that.

Read on to check out each bloggers final take on their DTA candidate. It’s been a fun ride, and we’ll be back next year with another bunch of misfits trying to straighten out their NBA careers.

The Final DTA Tally (as voted by the DTA panel)

1. Gallinari (65)
2. Dragic (61)
3. Redick (54)
3. Brewer (54)
5. Frye (45)
6. Belinelli (36)
7. Chris Quinn!! (23)
8. Kwame (21)
9. POB (19)
10. Roko (7)

The DTA Rankings Graph for 2009-2010

#1 – Danilo Gallinari

Thankfully, unlike some of the kids I teach, unlike my fiancé (nah just kidding Lexi), and unlike every other NBA player I give advice too, Danilo Gallinari listens to me. After February, Gallo dropped in the DTA rankings, and had myself and Donnie Walsh truly concerned.

To round out his first full season, Gallo gave us Knick fans a lot of hope for the future. With his DTA future on the line, Gallo did something a little unorthodox. He challenged himself to take on Carmelo Anthony The result? Me, Mrs Tizzle-to-be, and Bro-Tizzle jumping around my lounge room as Gallo and Melo went head-to-head, with Gallo dropping 17pts in the 3rd. Next home game, Gallo took it to Paul Pierce, dropped 19pts in the 3rd taking it to the rack on Double P time after time, (as if 17 wasn’t enough?) and gave the C’s his career high 31pts including just one three pointer.

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In March, he got his shot dropping again and averaged 16.2ppg. In April you ask? 22.4ppg to close out a great campaign by a great young ball player. He finished the year with his highest average of his season points wise, at 15.1ppg. His future success will play a very big role in the future of NY, Lebron or no Lebron. After last season there was a lot of doubt surrounding Gallinari, starting on draft day, and it was something only magnified by the harsh NY media and Donnie’s 2010 plan. But I can honestly say this season he shook off 99% of his doubters and proved his worth as an NBA player.

I’m not going to slag off the other DTA competitors or writers, because really, they didn’t have a chance from Day 1. On behalf of my client D. Gallinari, I would like to boast on our victory, and laugh at your defeat. Kwame, I will just continue to laugh at you as I did all season, just so you know.

Congrats Danilo, thanks for taking my Feb DTA entry to heart. I accept your apology. Rob, hoist up the Cock on the wall!

R.I.P Roko!

Tizzle, NBAMate

#2 – Goran Dragic

Sometimes people can surprise you, sometimes things just don’t turn out like you expect them to.

“Quaaaaaiiiiiid”

Coming into the season the expectations on Dragic were associated with the D League and how quickly we could get him off the books. Since then this little Slovenian firecracker has gone nuts and the public’s perception of Dragic has changed. He has come so far that not only are we not expecting him to be a bust, we are ragging on him when he doesn’t go for 20, 5 and 5 every game!

Dragic finished the year on a high, averaging 9.9 points, 3.1 assists and 3.1 rebounds for April, If I had written those stats at the start of this season, I would have read “Dragic has stepped up to be a huge player for Phoenix, with a breakout start to the season”.  This season Goran’s shooting percentage has increased 6%, and he’s scoring twice the points per game. At the same time he’s playing with confidence and leading a strong second unit for the Suns.

Dragic is the Suns future, and it’s beautiful.

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Has he proven the doubters wrong? You betcha! Is he upset that he came second in a hard fought Doubting Thomas Award? Well, Dragic has the nation watching as he suits up to play on the NBA’s biggest stage while “The Cock” is watching the playoffs from afar, eating pretzels and continuing to be a nobody. In fact, once LeBronze goes to New York, I doubt that they will have room at the end of the bench for the likes of Gallinari. I’m doubting on him so much that I think he should return next season for another round of the DTA!

Chucko, Frustrated Suns Fan

#3 – J.J Redick

J.J. picked it up down the stretch (as did the entire Orlando team), averaging 12 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds and nearly 50% from deep. In short, he provided exactly what was required of him on such a deep team, supplementing his proven ability to step up big when forced into a larger role (as evidenced by his huge 23, 8 and 7 against Denver just over a month ago). J.J. hasn’t redefined what he is over the course of the 09/10 season, but redefinition wasn’t exactly required. He has proven he is a player in this league, proven he adds significant value to Orlando and proven he could provide even more to another team in another situation if given the opportunity.

I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate J.J. Redick on his amazing consistency throughout the season (something that was a knock on him in previous years), as well as showing a much improved attitude on the defensive side of the court (something he started against Ray Allen in last year’s playoffs and has continued all year long).

J.J., you aren’t my pick for DT award winner, but you’d be the first player I’d pick in a game of HORSE. And that’s something.

Ryan, Two Sides of the Hoop

#3 – Corey Brewer

Instead of campaigning for why I think Brewer should have been ranked higher in the DTA Awards – certainly above Reddick – I think I’ll let John Hollinger do the talking for me. This from his piece on the All-Improved Team:

Brewer might be the most improved shooter in the league. Or the most improved shooter ever, for that matter. Here’s a stat that will floor you: As of Jan. 7, he’d made 23 3-pointers his entire career. Since then, he’s made a triple in 27 consecutive games — breaking Minnesota’s franchise record. As you might imagine, the improved stroke helps his other numbers, too: Brewer averaged 15.6 points on 47 percent shooting in February.

Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis told me that Brewer’s balance was the key: Brewer had been leaning back or to the side too often as he went up for his shot, and the Wolves had worked with him on going forward toward the rim as he launches. Apparently it’s worked; he’s made 43.1 percent of his 3s during the current streak, and a shot opponents once happily conceded to him now shows up on their scouting reports.

“Most improved shooter ever”. John Hollinger doesn’t just throw around these kind of phrases willy-nilly. As to the question of whether Brewer proved the doubters wrong, the answer is a resounding “YES”.

In fact, don’t just listen to me or John Hollinger. Let’s check the results of the 2010 NBA Most Improved Player award, as voted by 123 sports writers and broadcasters throughout the USA and Canada. I’ve thrown in some of his DTA peers for comparison sakes:

Corey Brewer (9th) – 19 votes
Channing Frye (14th) – 10 votes
Danilo Gallinari – (14th) – 10 votes
J.J Reddick (20th) – 4 votes

If proving the doubters wrong is all about improving, then Corey Brewer should have been your Doubting Thomas Award winner for 2009-2010. But clearly, he hasn’t convinced everyone.

— Robd, NBAMate

#5 – Channing Frye

Well, the pressure of the Doubting Thomas Award for 2010 finally caught up with Channing Frye. It’s been a season full of hopes, dreams, big shots, missed shots, splinters and Playoff aspirations. Whether you rate the guy or not is irrelevant, but ultimately (and of course unknown to Channing himself) this season was about proving the doubters wrong. Frye did that to an extent.

Channing Frye has bounced around a few teams now with Phoenix being his big chance to shine. Early in the season the three-ball was there, which immediately spread the floor for Amare to do his thing. However, over the final two months of the season Frye has become somewhat of a tortured genius for the Suns. It seemed throughout the early stages of the season that as Frye went, so went the Suns.. the only trouble was that Coach Gentry started to shelve the DTA favourite (in my eyes anyway!) and the Suns started to pick up the pace to bring home the number 3 seed in the West.

Which brings us to the ultimate question… Did Channing Frye prove the doubters wrong?

Well, I guess after all this time it depends on exactly what he was trying to prove?

So here it is, my reasoning behind what Channing Frye did and didn’t prove the doubters wrong about…

1) Can Channing Frye lift his 3pt shots made total by 950% in one season? Yes
2) Can Channing Frye play an important role on a 54 win team? Yes
3) Once on a roll, can Channing Frye go from strength to strength throughout a season? No
4) Is Channing Frye playing a level of NBA Basketball worth $1.9m a year? Yes
5) Will Channing Frye have a breakout Playoff performance and prove the DTA panel wrong? Remains to be seen…

As far as the DTA is concerned, that race is over… however, how many times do we look back at past award winners/draft selections and think, “Man, how wrong did they get it???!”.

It happened with Sam Bowie being drafted ahead of Michael Jordan in the 1984 Draft, it happened when Christian Laettner made the original Dream Team over Shaq, it will probably happen when Brandon Jennings is screwed out of the ROY Award this year and it happened when Dirk Nowitzki was traded for Robert “Tractor” Traylor on Draft night 1998.

The fact is although Channing Frye has failed to win the DTA this season, he is one of only three participants who actually made the Playoffs. I’ll be interested to see how many points, rebounds, assists and blocks Danilo Gallinari and Corey Brewer get on their X-Boxes this post-season. And as for Redick and Dragic, who knows? All that’s certain is that you can never trust foreigners or white rappers.

Well played Channing, it’s been fun following your season. And thanks to NBAMate and the fellow bloggers for making a really interesting group of articles. A pleasure working with you all.

Paul, Two Sides of the Hoop

#6 – Marco Belinelli

The post-All-Star break portion of the NBA season has not been kind to Marco Belinelli in the race for the much coveted NBA Doubting Thomas Award. Yes, whilst he started out the season in fine form, as a key contributor off the bench as the sixth and seventh man for the Toronto Raptors, the period from February onwards marked a downturn in his fortunes.

How did this happen? In short, Beli was a victim of the success of others. The rise of Sonny Weems coincided with the decline in minutes for our Italian friend. And the Raptors’ record seems to suggest that Weems was the marginally better option. Whilst they went 29-37 in games that Beli played in, the team was 32-37 in Weems’ appearances, in what was a disappointing season overall for a team that had very high hopes early on.

The fact remains that Beli has shown himself to be a more than capable NBA performer — particularly in a role off the bench, anchoring and stabilising the second unit with his shooting and ball-handling ability. His combo-guard skills mean that he can be played alongside scoring point guards with ease.

Has he proved the doubters wrong? Unfortunately he hasn’t been given enough chance to prove himself as a starting-level NBA commodity. However he certainly has proven himself as someone who belongs in the NBA for the long haul and from that perspective, he certainly can not have too many detractors.

And let me say this: he definitely is unlucky to be ranked at the bottom of the heap in the DTA rankings in terms of the meaningful contributors to their teams! To be ranked above only the likes of Chris Quinn, the absent Roko Ukic, the enigmatic Kwame Brown and Patrick O’Bryant is a sleight to Beli that I’m sure he will not forget. You will hear more from this Bolognese sensation in the future and he will surely mention his Doubting Thomas Award Doubters when he shines!

Mookie, A Stern Warning

#7 – Chris Quinn

Lets sit back and take stock for a moment here. Chris Quinn goes from being last in the rankings for the majority of the year to 7th at the end of the year. This whilst playing the majority of games for the worst team in the competition and averaging a whopping 8:45 seconds per game when he does play. But playing time has been an issue for Chris Quinn. I am specifically referring to the game on April 9th versus the Chicago Bulls. This is Chris Quinn’s statline:

0:04    0-0    0-0    0-0    0     0    0    0    0    0    0    0     0    0

I don’t need to add what the stats were, its the first one that counts. 4 SECONDS! 4! What can you possibly do wrong in 4 seconds of play that makes you not get on the court again. There was no injuries to him within that 4 seconds. I checked. The only other explanation is being subbed in for a last 4 second play to end a quarter/ shot clock. But if your THAT good to be in there at a key moment, you should be good enough to do it a couple more times right? I actually YouTubed ‘Worst 4 seconds’ just to see if I could get this into perspective. There was 2 results. One was the Undertaker dressed as Kane taking of his mask in front of Vince McMahon, and the other was this. And yes, I know the video goes for 5 seconds.

But there are some other valuable bits of information about the last 2 months of Quinntastic’s NBA career. Firstly, the Nets’ last home game resulted in a 10 point loss to the Bobcats. In that game, the Nets benched were outscored by the Bobcats bench 50 to 4. The two players who scored baskets? Josh Boone and of course, Chris Quinn.

Now on to whether or not Chris Quinn proved his doubters wrong? Well lets face it, he’s averaged under 10 minutes for the worst team in the league. If the Nets were to get the first 2 picks in the NBA draft, a PG will probably be in a Nets uniform at the start of the season (John Wall or Evan Turner), and with the fact that Devin Harris, Turner/ Wall, and Terrance Williams are still going to be on the roster, Chris Quinn will probably not be in the NBA next season. So in answer to the original question, no he did not prove his doubters wrong. But he did prove one thing, he is better than Kwame Brown and Patick O’Bryant.

Fare-thee-well Chris Quinn. May you always dominant in NBA 2k9.

Jobba, NBAMate

#8 – Kwame Brown

Kwame Brown’s season has been a microcosm of the Detroit Pistons season as a whole throughout 2009-2010. It started with some promise that things wouldn’t be as bad as Pistons fans feared. Kwame was getting regular minutes (albeit only a few), and would even chime in with big defensive plays every now and then. Then there was a drop off as the losses started piling up. Kwame disappeared as the Pistons relied on Ben Wallace to anchor the middle, and no one else. Eventually, it all ended in fail. Kwame’s was having zero impact and getting zero opportunities, while other Pistons proved their worth in the rotation. The Pistons endured their worst season in a decade. Kwame endured the worst season in his already pathetic career.

I picked Kwame for the DTA because I honestly believed it could have been a promising season for him. I was hoping at this point of the year I would be telling everyone “I told you so”. I was hoping I could look at his averages over the 2009-2010 season and say, “Hey, this looks like a guy we should continue to develop in the coming years”. But right now, I’m saying none of that. Kwame has been given three or four leases of life in his NBA career, and he has fucked up every single one of them. In essence, the Doubting Thomas Award has proved what we already know about Kwame. His only consolation is finishing above a guy who no longer even plays in the NBA, and a guy who’s total court time for 09-10 was less than an hour. So in the glass half-full approach, this is probably the greatest achievement of Kwame’s career. Maybe he should retire while he’s ahead.

— Robd, NBAMate

#9 – Patrick O’Bryant

You know what’s not interesting? To hear about what Patrick O’Bryant has done this season. It really isn’t interesting at all. The big fella let me down. While his team made a good run in the latter part of February and the earlier part of March, their hopes of a playoff run were dashed without Bosh in the picture.

While POB has earned himself 8 minutes of garbage time in 2 different games, OKC on 2/28 and HOU on 3/1, they were minutes during a back-to-back blowout loss against two formidable foes.

What a joke.

What’s more interesting than hearing about his 16 minutes in the last 30 games (read: 30 games)? Hearing what I have done in the last 2 minutes: I looked at some new basketball sneakers on Eastbay, had a peanut crunch Cliff Bar, and thought about how POB has sucked this year.

What a joke.

Loscy, Loscy Celtics Blog

#10 – Roko Ukic

Well, Roko, you proved the doubters right.

This season Roko has proven that he’s not a good fit for the Milwaukee Bucks or even the NBA for that matter.  And since his transfer from the Bucks to Fenerbahçe Ülker, Roko has disappeared into Turkish oblivion.  I searched Google for Roko Ukic updates, nothing.  I searched Twitter for Roko updates, still nothing.  Maybe he jumped into a Hot Tub Time Machine back to 2008 when an NBA team actually gave him some minutes.

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I believed in you Roko, but you let me down. Good luck to you, wherever you are.

Romy, Hip Hoop Junkies


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