Featured Image by: Kim Klement – USA TODAY Sports
Written by Ben Pfeifer
The NBA playoffs are around the corner, and that means all of the NBA awards will be released soon!
Coach of the year: Mike D’Antoni – Houston Rockets
The last time D’Antoni coached an NBA team, he would be considered maybe one of the worst coaches in the league. Now, he has turned the Houston rockets into a legitimate title threat, leading them to a staggering 53 wins, after only 41 in the previous season. Most people thought that the Rockets would falter this season due to the fact that James Harden is pretty alone on that team. As expected, Harden is having an MVP type season. But, the role players on the Rockets including Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson, Patrick Beverley, Louis Williams, Sam Dekker and more. Mike D’Antoni plays Harden the same way he played Steve Nash in Phoenix, and his success there is a direct cause of the success of the Rockets this year. Watch out for the Rockets to make a deep playoff run this season
Brad Stevens (BOS), Erik Spoelstra (MIA)
Sixth Man of the Year: Eric Gordon – Shooting Guard – Houston Rockets
Speaking of the rockets and Mike D’antoni, Eric Gordon has emerged as a legitimate threat this season. In New Orleans, his injuries and lack of success when healthy led many to believe that he could never be effective again. But this season he has proved everyone wrong. He has been averaging 16 points, 3 assists, and shooting 38% from three. He has been a perfect compliment to James Harden, providing vital spacing that Harden needs to work his magic. Gordon has also been very capable of leading the offense, showing he can create his own shot and make plays. When Gordon is on the court without harden. The Rockets have an excellent +21 points over their opponent. Without Gordon, who knows if the Rockets would be in the spot that they are.
Louis Williams (HOU), Andre Igoudala (GSW)
Most Improved Player: Nikola Jokic – Center – Denver Nuggets
This is the closest race in my opinion of all of the awards. Jokic has made a massive leap forward from his rookie season, leading the Nuggets to playoff contention in the tough western conference Jokic has become an all around center, displaying his elite passing ability as a big man, along with excellent basketball I.Q., scoring, shooting, and defense. This award is a toss up, and could easily go to many players.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL), Gordon Hayward (UTA), Rudy Gobert (UTA), Bradley Beal (WAS), Otto Porter (WAS), and more.
Defensive player of the year: Rudy Gobert – Center – Utah Jazz
10 of the last 12 defensive player of the year awards have gone to dominating big men, for their imposing threat at the rim and ability to swat shots out of the arena, and Gobert is no exception. He is averaging a league leading 2.7 blocks a game. The Jazz are a top 5 defensive team in the league with Gobert on the floor, and he is second in opponent field goal percentage for centers, only second to Joel Embiid. Gobert has fueled the Jazz to a top spot in the west, and should develop into one of the top centers in the league in due time.
Kawhi Leonard (SAS), Draymond Green (GSW)
Rookie of the year: Dario Saric: – Small Forward – Philadelphia 76ers
Around halfway into the NBA season, Joel Embiid seemed like a lock for the Rookie of the year. Playing restricted minutes, he was averaging an incredible 20 points, 8 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks. But like his first two seasons, just cannot stay healthy. I cannot justify giving him the award after playing only 31 games. My top candidate for the Rookie of the year is another Sixers big man drafted in 2014, Dario Saric. Saric was playing overseas, and came over this year. Since Embiid went down, Saric has been averaging 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists. Saric is a do it all forward, and will help make the Sixers very dangerous in the future.
Joel Embiid (PHI), Malcom Brogdon (MIL)
Most valuable player: Russell Westbrook – Point Guard – Oklahoma City Thunder
This is one of the tightest Mvp races in a long time. We have four people who could win the award: Lebron James, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook. For most of the year, I believed that Harden was deserving of the trophy, but Russ just keeps on convincing me. The fact that he will finish the season averaging a triple double, and Wesbrook has tied the record with 41 triple doubles with four games to go. If I were a betting man, I would say that he will break the record. This alone would be enough for the MVP in most seasons, and the fact that he is doing this in the wake of the departure of Kevin Durant makes for an incredible story. Westbrook has also led a very lackluster team to the playoffs in a grueling western conference.
LeBron James (CLE), James Harden (HOU), Kawhi Leonard (SAS)
All NBA First Team
Russell Westbrook – Point Guard – Oklahoma City Thunder
James Harden – Shooting Guard – Houston Rockets
Lebron James – Small Forward – Cleveland Cavaliers
Kawhi Leonard – Small Forward – San Antonio Spurts
Anthony Davis – Power Forward – New Orleans Pelicans
All NBA Second Team
Isaiah Thomas – Point Guard – Boston Celtics
John Wall – Point Guard – Washington Wizards
Kevin Durant – Small Forward – Golden State Warriors
Giannis Antetokounmpo – Small Forward – Milwaukee Bucks
Demarcus Cousins – Center – New Orleans Pelicans
All NBA Third Team
Kyle Lowry – Point Guard – Toronto Raptors
Stephen Curry – Point Guard – Golden State Warriors
Paul George – Small Forward – Indianapolis Pacers
Jimmy Butler – Small Forward – Chicago Bulls
Marc Gasol – Center – Memphis Grizzlies