words_Nick DePaula While 2009 was absolutely brutal at times,� luckily for everyone interested in anything regarding performance footwear, the second half of the NBA season shaped up to introduce quite a few worthy on-court hoop shoes. [And as always, some horrible options.] While Nike Basketball continued with their strong recent run of quality sneakers with the launch of the Zoom Kobe V, Zoom KD II and LeBron VII PS, it was also the other brands like adidas Baskeball and even Under Armour that also brought a great effort to the table. Read along for my take on this NBA season's best basketball performance shoes, and feel free to violently argue if you think otherwise. MVP -- Nike LeBron VII PS While it's been no secret that the Air Max LeBron VII was a pretty big on-court disappointment, and probably wins the "Rasheed Wallace Commemorative Most Disappointing Player Award," Nike Basketball gave themselves a mulligan and got things right for when it mattered most -- LeBron's playoff run. The things I hated most about the Air Max VII, namely the firm forefoot feel, heel instability and poor transition, were perfectly fixed and improved upon with the VII PS. The shoe's sizable heel and forefoot Zoom Air units offer up the best cushioning package around, and they're also 3 ounces lighter, $20 less at retail, and better fitting, smoother in transition and more laterally stable. If you're a player of any position that plays the sport of basketball for any period of time, check these out for sure. Just like the shoe's namesake, the LeBron VII PS is my clear-cut MVP for its all-around ability. Most Improved Player -- adidas TS Supernatural Creator Here's where I'll be more honest than necessary -- I hated the first few Team Signature shoes. Performance wise, that is. While I really liked the looks of the TS Litespeed, TS Creator [can't co-sign the Lightning Creator!!] and even lobbied on behalf of the TS Cut Creator, the shoes were far too firm underfoot and cushioning seemed almost nonexistant. I was left disappointed every single season, no matter how much I wanted to like them. Enter the Team Signature Supernatural series. For basketball analogy purposes, the series must have been in its contract year or something, because the Supernatural Creator performed great after coasting the past few seasons. [Awesomely not coincidental that Corey Maggette wore them.] It's the best adidas shoe I've played in since the start of this decade. They've also marked a great transition for the category, as they're heading back to the Feet You Wear approach of natural motion and more sculpted toolings that made me such a huge fan of adidas Basketball during the mid-90s. If you enjoy outstanding transition and a nimble-footed maneuvering shoe, the TS Supernatural Creator is definitely a great option. At a retail price of $100, adidas Basketball is also innovating perhaps where the market will best digest their products, and the new and improved direction should definitely earn some attention in the coming seasons for the Stripes. Rookie Of The Year -- Under Armour Prototype I complained to everyone within speaking distance yesterday that Brandon Jennings should've won at least a share of the NBA's Rookie Of The Year Award. (The kid played all 82 regular season games and has led a suspect roster to a 2-2 tied series in the PLAYOFFS, a facet of the NBA season that Tyreke Evans and Stephen Curry didn't even consider during the preseason.) Equally frustrating isn't the lack of accolades for Young Buck, but that the shoe he's been tearing it up in all season didn't even approach becoming available. Not a quickstrike at Under Armour's New York pop-up shop. Not even a drop during All-Star Weekend. Who knows if there was anything planned if he DID win Rookie Of The Year? Unlike the other award winners, I've never played in the Prototype. But the sharp silhouette, sweet court view and damage that Brandon put in on the hardwood in them was enough to earn my Rookie Of The Year vote. The newcomer's colorways and materials worked well and stood out, and whether it was double contrast stitching, convenient Gucci-esque striping or his playful 'Young Buck' tongue personalization, you can tell there's an endless amount of detail and effort put into these. Now just let all of us buy the damn things. 6th Man -- Nike Zoom KD II Zac and I both think incredibly highly of the Zoom KD II, but much like KD's personality, it's pretty easy to feel indifferent about this shoe at first glance. The looks aren't really anything to get overly excited about, but seriously, these are awesome on court and are honestly unflawed. If you only have a certain allowance for your newest hoop shoe (mine was always $50 growing up), it's definitely worth scrounging up whatever you can to try and throw down $85 for a pair of the KD II. Not only is the shoe's height perfectly supportive without being restrictive, but the detailed outsole pattern offers exacting traction and the shoe's forefoot Zoom Air bag and full Cushlon midsole are faaaaar too effective of a cushioning system for the price point. The very first thing I ever said to Zac after playing in them was, "These are too good for $85." They're so good that they can potentially hurt sales of higher priced shoes even. Why pay $100 and up when the KD2 offers everything you'd expect from that higher echelon? For that reason alone, the KD II is my 6th Man. I keep a pair in my trunk at all times, just in case I need a backup option when at the gym and my starter isn't cutting it. Coach Of The Year -- Jason Petrie Sure, Tinker Hatfield and Mark Smith helped bring the Air Jordan line back to respectability. (And I also really liked Mark's Alpha Air Jordan 1 effort.) Leo Chang worked a margins miracle with the KD II, but I'll damn sure penalize him for the Hyperize.� Eric Avar also killed it with the Zoom Kobe V, but they still need better forefoot cushioning and traction, however great they may be. At adidas, Robbie Fuller definitely delivered with the TS Supernatural line, but the definition of great coaching is making the most of your situation and making the best adjustments from play to play, or in this case, from shoe to shoe. With that criteria in mind, Jason Petrie earns Coach Of The Year from me for his work on the LeBron VII PS. After turning in an (admittedly pretty well received and attractive) under-performing signature model in the Air Max LeBron VII, Petrie watched the theoretical game film, made the adjustments, and solved every last point of improvement needed for the release of the LeBron VII PS. The shoe fits better, is lower to the ground and more stable, and also provides better cushioning in a lighter overall package. Well done.