ON Monday night the NBA elite gathered to celebrate those who achieved greatness in season 2016-17. While I wasn’t a fan of the whole ‘let’s wait 75 days from the end of the season to announce these awards’ idea, I’m not here to bitch about that (although I may do it later). I predicted the All-NBA teams earlier in May, but I never actually gave my prediction for the mainstream, sexier awards. So instead I’ll now determine if the right guy was handed the trophy.
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QUICK shoutout to the NBA personalities that won these other lesser known awards on Monday night.
Sager Strong Award – Monty Williams, Oklahoma City Thunder
NBA Lifetime Achievement Award – Bill Russell, Boston Celtics
NBA Sportsmanship Award – Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets
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NBA Cares Community Assist Award – Isaiah Thomas, Boston Celtics
NBA Hustle Award – Patrick Beverley, Houston Rockets
Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year – Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
Executive of the Year – Bob Myers, Golden State Warriors
Fan Voted Awards
PERSONALLY I think the fans nailed most of these decisions. You couldn’t vote against Westbrook for the style award or best game winner of the year and the same can be said for all the others, except for best performance. Maybe I’m just a hater, but I think Klay’s 60 point game not only wasn’t the best single game performance, it shouldn’t haven even been 2nd. James Harden’s 53/16/17 stat line against the Knicks and Devin Booker’s 70 point night both ranked higher for me for season 2016/17.
Rookie of the Year
WINNER: Malcolm Brogdon
Verdict – No
SORRY Malcolm Brogdon, a guy that averaged 10 points and four assists can’t be Rookie of the Year (ROY). You might be surprised to know that he averaged more minutes than any rookie not named Brandon Ingram and shot a better percentage from the field, three and free throw line than my pick for ROY. Despite not coming alive until Joel Embiid, another potential winner, went down with a knee injury (after 31 joyful games), Dario Saric dominated the second half of the season. Post All-Star break he averaged 17.3 PPG and 7.3 RPG and even before the break, Saric was still ‘out-stating’ Brogdon. There really wasn’t a clear winner in this shitty ROY race, but my pick is still Saric.
Sixth Man Award
WINNER: Eric Gordon
Verdict – Yes
THE only player that could have taken this throne from Eric Gordon was traded to their team at the deadline. Once Lou Williams became a Rocket (still a questionable move), it was virtually a formality that Gordon would become the 6th man winner. Williams’ averages were boosted by his performance in 58 games with the Lakers, but when he was traded his production dipped and Gordon continued to remain consistent. It is a nice reward for Gordon, who put together his first season of 75 appearance since his rookie year in 08/09 and made the 3rd most three’s per game behind the Splash Brothers.
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Most Improved Award
WINNER: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Verdict – Yes and No
HEAR me out. There may have been no player that generated more buzz from out of nowhere than Nikola Jokic last year. The Nuggets center might not have jumped off the page with his averages (16.7 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 4.9 APG) but he passed (pun intended) the eye test, emerging as Denver’s franchise player averaging more assists than any big man not named Draymond Green or Al Horford. It’s hard to award him over Giannas Antetokounmpo though, with ‘The Greek Freak’ increasing his stats and output in every area, while averaging virtually the same amount of minutes. Antetokounmpo finished his breakout year by becoming the first player to rank inside the top 20 for total points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals, leading the Bucks in every one of those categories. In my eyes it’s impossible to pick out of the two and I’d be very interested to see the voting between the pair of 22 year old (this is not a type, these ‘unicorns’ are only 22) superstars.
Coach of the Year
WINNER: Mike D’Antoni
Verdict – Yes
HAD Erik Spoelstra been able to bring the Miami Heat back for a improbable playoff berth he may have had a legit argument. However, after the Heat started 11-30 even if they had have finished above 41-41, the case could be made that Spoelstra was still the coach when they start so poorly. D’Antoni handed Harden the keys to the offense, a change that revolutionised the way the Rockets played and saw them win more games than any team bar the Spurs and Warriors. Kudos Mike.
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Defensive Player of the Year
WINNER: Draymond Green
Verdict – Begrudgingly Yes
I SOOOOOOO badly wanted to see Kawhi ‘The Klaw’ Leonard become the second guy (since Dwight Howard ’09/’10/’11) to win back-to-back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) awards. Credit were credit is due though, Draymond Green thoroughly deserved to beat out the others and claim his first DPOY award. Green is a rare breed of player, that can defend all five positions in the NBA and his defensive presence and versatility was pivotal in the Warriors title quest this year. He led the league in steals and had more blocks than the likes of Karl-Anthony Towns and Dwight Howard, despite being just 6′ 7″. Forget the haters (myself included) Green deserved this award.
Most Valuable Player
WINNER: Russell Westbrook
Verdict – Yes
NICE try James Harden, you did your best, but you can’t argue with Russell Westbrook’s production this season. Now if you take away the triple doubles and look at how valuable the individual was to their team the case can be made for either player. The same can be said when you talk about their supporting cast/record, as Harden had both better support and more W’s, therefore negating one another. At the end of the day this season will go down in history as the Westbrook revenge tour. Sure the Dubs dominant playoffs and title run will be mentioned, but for 81 games we got to watch Russell Westbrook play in 5th gear, at 110%, dunking on fools and producing video game-like numbers like it was nobodies business. We haven’t seen a single player go on a one man mission like that in YEARS. All bow down to ‘The Brodie’.
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