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Ian Thomsen
April 23, 2001
Who'll Take The Heat?Despite Philly's superior record, our panel picks Miami to face San Antonio in the Finals
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April 23, 2001

The Nba

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Defensive Player of the Year: Kevin Garnett, Timberwolves. When the 6'11" Garnett isn't carrying the offensive load, he's shutting down everyone from centers to point guards. He makes defense look like fun—unless you're the one trying to cope with his long arms, quick feet and fierce attitude.

Executive of the Year: Don Nelson, Mavericks. Whoa, Nellie! You were right about Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki and Juwan Howard—and Wang Zhizhi looks as if he might have a future, too.

Best Acquisition: Derek Anderson, Spurs. The free-agent shooting guard from the Clippers invigorated San Antonio, supplying the outside scoring and athleticism the team lacked.

Worst Acquisition: Shawn Kemp, Trail Blazers. Enough said.

Most Unfairly Vilified Player: Kobe Bryant, Lakers. Coach Phil Jackson has taken a lot of credit for his teams' successes over the years. If LA fails to successfully defend its title because Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal aren't on the same page, Jackson should take the blame. Entirely.

Best Prospect: Darius Miles, Clippers. Five years from now the 6'9" Miles will have emerged as the best player from the 2000 draft and one of the most gifted in the game.

Best Moment: Return of Alonzo Mourning. If he leads Miami to the Finals, he'll be the NBAs answer to Lance Armstrong.

Worst Moment: The day Nuggets coach Dan Issel stood in an empty gym because Denver players making $52 million refused to practice for him.

Most Overdue Moment: The Blazers' decision to suspend Rasheed Wallace. They waited until a month before the playoffs, after he had been whistled for a league-record 40th technical foul.

Most Underrated Player: Shawn Marion, Suns. The 6'7" small forward is becoming a Rodmanesque rebounder (10.8 per game through Sunday) and an explosive scorer (17.4 points).

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