In what can only be described as a testament to their depth, the Celtics -- they of an Eastern Conference best 23-7 record, despite back-to-back losses -- boast only one player (and barely) on ESPN's weekly NBA Awards Watch.
Point guard Rajon Rondo holds tight at No. 5 on potential Defensive Players of the Year (behind Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, Ron Artest, and Thabo Sefolosha). Writes Award Watch curator Maurice Brooks: "[Rondo] followed up a six-steal performance against the Pacers by grabbing a season-high 13 rebounds on Christmas against the Magic."
Our take: Paul Pierce dabbled in the top 10 for potential league MVP earlier this year and his stock might actually be growing despite being sidelined after knee surgery last week. While the Celtics most certainly win with balance, it's evident the past two games just how much Pierce means to this team, particularly in crunch time when Boston has struggled while dropping consecutive games to the Clippers and Warriors.
We'll continue to champion Kendrick Perkins for consideration for the most improved player. Sure, it's been a steady development for Perk, but he's made a tremendous leap this season. He continues to lead the league in field-goal percentage (64.8 percent) and his biggest weakness right now might simply be keeping his emotions in check.