Melo has the Knicks out to a strong start. (Getty Images)

The Baseline Awards hand out rewards for exceptional and not so exceptional events and players of the past week. Award rankings are at the end and please watch your step as you exit the ride. 

You're probably going to hate this column a little bit. I can live with that. It's too early for such columns. The Knicks have played two games. Some teams just one. How are we supposed to evaluate anything? The reality is that we can't. 

But there's also an overreaction the other way. There are teams throughout NBA history which were supposed to be good, who started badly, and never recovered. There are teams that were supposed to be bad, got off to a hot start. Not every team regresses to the projected mean. And if they do, this column will reflect that. 

But every week in the NBA, every game, does contribute to the overall picture. A bad week doesn't decide your season, neither does a bad month. But it can shape things like whether a team makes the playoffs, which seed they get, who wins an award or doesn't. These things do have an impact. The games do count. 

So we track them, starting with the first week. Here's what we saw the first week. I think it's worth documenting, God help us all.

Eastern Conference Player of the Week: Carmelo Anthony

Just so we're clear on this... Anthony is working in the flow of an offense that isn't isolation centric, is sharing the ball, making the right play, playing aggressively... and defending well.

We're all going to die, this is the end of the world.

Melo has been superb. Sublime. Incredible. It's the kind of performance that you dream about as a Knicks fan. It's as if Woodson took him into a laboratory, reprogrammed him and made him into the kind of player you want him to be. He's still using isolation possessions, but they're in taking advantage of how the defense sets. He's playing in rhythm and with the flow of the offense.

Everything Melo said to expect this year and people like me doubted would happen have occurred.

Speaking of...

Eastern Conference Team of the Week: New York Knicks

Who is this guy and what did he do with Mike Woodson? The best offense for a team above .500 belongs to the New York Knicks and it's caught everyone off guard. Raymond Felton is controlling the offense and setting the tone and the Knicks' backcourt is doing an excellent job reversing the ball to the weak side. It's causing havoc, even on good teams like Miami. Oh, and they're defense is somehow better to start the year than it was last year.

The Knicks have had a pretty awesome start for a team in the shadow of a natural disaster.

Western Conference Player of the Week: James Harden

So... this has worked out pretty well so far for the Rockets. Harden dropped 37 in his Rockets debut and a career-high 45 in his follow up. He's getting teammates involved, working in the flow of an offense he's been in for about 45 seconds, and making plays. Harden won't sustain this pace all season, but he's making the trade (and the $80 million from Daryl Morey) seem worth it.

The key will be how he adjusts when defenses start scheming to stop him. He had a bit of a dropoff in the third game, and how things go this week will be fascinating to watch. #Beardsanity has been one of the most fascinating storylines of the week.

Western Conference Team of the Week: San Antonio Spurs

They. Won't. Die.

The defense has been good but shown some real signs of wear and tear. The offense, however, has been great. They got a bit of a good luck win over the Thunder last Thursday, but they've also taken out a very game Hornets team and a tough Utah team. The Spurs look set once again to dominate the regular season again.

The Mayan Apocalypse Award for WHAT?!

Tie: Los Angeles Lakers
Boston Celtics
Denver Nuggets

Three teams expected to be in contention for their respective conference finals have a whopping two wins between them after a week of play. The Lakers' struggles have been well-documented (and we'll be talking more about them on Monday), the Celtics have kind of slipped under the radar. Their win came against the Wizards -- and it was close until the end. The Wizards, y'all.

Meawhile, no team has a worse efficiency differential in the league than the Denver Nuggets, who have serious problems. They improved against the Miami Heat in a close loss, but they enter their home opener Tuesday with issues shooting, converting layups, shooting free throws, and defending.

This is one of those things that will look weird/silly at the end of the year, but because sometimes bad teams start out bad, we have to note that these three teams have looked horrible, not bad, horrible to start the year.

The 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' Award for Coaching Their Face Off

Tie: Monty Williams
Scott Skiles

Monty Williams was out his Rookie of the Year candidate on Saturday and beat the Chicago Bulls on the road. They have hung with the Spurs and are a team you do not want to face. Oh, yeah, and the Eric Gordon thing.

Scott Skiles does not have a contract, has a dysfunctional backcourt pairing at most times, has had his lottery pick injured, and they are blowing the doors off of people.

Monty Williams has made Robin Lopez look like a quality starting center to start the season. Skiles has helped Brandon Jennings look like an All-Star. You tell me which one is more impressive.

Narratives of the Week

"Russell Westbrook is the worst thing ever and should have been traded instead of James Harden." 

I almost wish this would have happened so that Westbrook could completely destroy teams as the man on his team and there wouldn't be quesions about why he's not passing to his teammate who likes to manage his shot volume and doesn't establish position.

Meanwhile, the Rockets' win over the Pistons isn't exactly holding up well for strength of schedule. Even if Harden is spectacular in Houston this year, it doesn't make the trade a bad decision. It was unavoidable.

"Mike Brown is the root of all failure."

I never knew that Mike Brown was capable of causing Dwight Howard to rotate slowly for the first three games and be constantly out of position. That's impressive. Also didn't realize that he was responsible for Steve Blake not having given two consecutively good quarters of basketball since 2007.

The offense was a bad idea. Brown deserves a lot of the blame for the start. The reacton has been predictably silly.

"Orlando/Atlanta are better without their stars!"

Just a reminder, the 2011 Cavaliers started the season 4-3. Just wanted to get that out there.

The Horde Award for Team You Should Fear: Los Angeles Clippers

Jamal Crawford gives them another dimension, Lamar Odom is playing his way back into shape, Blake Griffin hasn't gotten off the blocks yet, Chris Paul's at an MVP level, Eric Bledsoe would start on a lot of teams, and oh, by the way, they still have Grant Hill and Chauncey Billups coming back.

This team looks much better than anticipated.

Cub Scout Troop Award for Team You Should Not Fear: Detroit Pistons

We've talked about the Nuggets, and they are a worthy choice. But the Pistons are an unmitigated disaster. Rodney Stucky is 1-23 on the season. One. For twenty-three. Tayshaun Prince is on a big contract with no real role established, Greg Monroe can't find space, the offense is bad and the defense maybe worse.

This team started slow last year, then recovered but it was too late for a playoff run. What happens if it's the same thing this year?

Awards Watch

We talked about it at the top, I'm going to talk about it again. This is the first week. I can't overreact to what I've seen but I can't act like none of it matters, either. This isn't preseason. The objective of this column is to give you a path through the season on how things develop. So understand that I don't think Carmelo Anthony will win MVP or that Damian Lillard won't win ROY (though both could certainly happen). It's that I have to weigh long-term sustainability with what I've seen on the court (and what the metrics tell us). There, now that I've said my peace, go berserk in the comments.

Most Valuable Player

1. Carmelo Anthony: This is what it looks like when a guy puts it together. Can he sustain it? Can New York?
2. James Harden: #Beardsanity in effect. Controlling the game at both ends and showing that it wasn't just playig with Durant and Westbrook that made him look good in OKC.
3. LeBron James: You get the sense he's coasting a little bit and when he turns it on, as he did vs. Boston and against Denver in the final quarter, there's just nothing to be done.
4. Kyle Lowry: He's controlling the game and is the start that Toronto's been looking for. The Raptors look very tough despite a losing record.
5. Kobe Bryant: Assassin's Creed: Kobe Bryant.
Honorable mention: Chris Paul

Rookie of the Year

1. Anthony Davis: Even with the concussion, he's been so good in the pick and roll and finishing tips while playing great defense even as a rook. But he and Lillard are essentially tied.
2. Damian Lillard: Dude's like Luke Skywalker, the Blazers' prophecy foretells him saving their universe.
3. Jonas Valanciunas: The box score looks bad. But if you watch him, he's doing the little things and that's making an impact.
4. Dion Waiters: It's a rollercoaster ride and I'm going to need a few weeks to sort out exactly what Waiters is so far.
5. Michael Kidd Gilchrist: I said when he was drafted he'd be a defensive player of the year candidate in four years. He's on his way.

Coach of the Year

1. Monty Williams: Outside of the repugnant "pink dresses" comment, he's been fantastic. Had this team primed on both ends even without Eric Gordon.
2. Scott Skiles: Seriously, the Bucks blew out the Celtics. Seriously.
3. Gregg Popovich: There's an argument, not a great one, but an argument to be made for Popovich to be the best coach of all time. Being in the conversation means a lot.
4. Tom Thibodeau: The Bulls have the best efficiency differential of any team over .500. They're going to win a ton of games this year again and I'm going to look stupid for doubting Thibodeau's ability to drag this team to elite status, again.
5. Jacque Vaughn: This guy's undefeated with Glen Davis, J.J. Redick, and Jameer Nelson as his best players. Not a bad start for the first-year guy.

6th Man of the Year

1. Kevin Martin: Martin had 28 in a loss Sunday night. He's getting into the offense. With the best offense in the league around him, no reason he can't fulfill our prediction for him.
2. Mike Dunleavy: Just go check his PER. I'll wait. Go ahead. Now consider that he's also, for the moment, the best defensive player in the league in points per possession allowed via Synergy. Neither of those numbers will hold but Dunleavy was great last year? Why Not Mike?
3. Carl Landry: We shouldn't be surprised when he steps in to anchor a team off the bench, but it is surprising when he's playing defense like this.
4. J.J. Redick: Redick unleashed!
5. Jamal Crawford: Crawford is the gunning, crossover maniac bench player the Clippers badly needed last year.


1. Tony Allen: Junkyard dog gotta eat.
2. Omer Asik: Big man is big.
3. Dwight Howard: Looked horrible first 2.5 games, incredible last 1.5.
4. Carmelo Anthony: Don't look at us, we're just as surprised as you are.
5. Kawhi Leonard: The kid's a sophomore and on this list.