SOME of the NBA award races this year are super duper close. Some, on the other hand, have clear winners and may as well have already been announced. Not all of them a whitewashes though with the verdict still out on a few trophies. The formal awards night is still a month away but I decided to hand out the SBF NBA awards anyway.
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Most Improved Player
Honourable Mention: Spencer Dinwiddie, Steven Adams
Verdict: Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers
THERE isn’t any way in hell that Oladipo isn’t going to win the MIP award this season. After being dealt to Indiana in the off-season, he has emerged into an All-Star calibre guy and a legit ‘go-to-guy’ for the Pacers, steering them to nearly 50 wins. It will be interesting to see if he still has more growth in him, but make no mistake he is a thoroughly deserving winner.
Sixth Man of the Year
Honourable Mention: Eric Gordon, Bobby Portis
Verdict: Lou Williams, Los Angeles Clippers
SIMILAR to the MIP award, the 6th man honours are pretty easy to decide. After averaging nearly 22 points a night off the bench, Lou Will was arguably LA’s best player over the duration of the season and was rewarded with a contract extension. There are a handful of other guys who averaged somewhere between 10-15 points off the pine, but they can’t compete with Williams.
Coach of the Year
Honourable Mention: Brad Stevens, Gregg Popovich, Nate McMillan, Quin Snyder
Verdict: Dwane Casey, Toronto Raptors
COACH of the Year is the toughest award to pick, hence the reason half the league has earned an honourable mention. What Snyder and McMillan have done with teams we thought would finish around the .500 mark is incredible while Stevens and Popovich’s success without their best players available is also quite remarkable. However, North of the border Casey was revolutionising the Raptors offense and leading Toronto to the best record in their conference and a franchise high number of wins. It’s tough competition and I could easily be talked into choosing someone else, but my vote goes to coach Casey.
Rookie of the Year
Honourable Mention: Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum
Verdict: Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers
THIS seasons rookie class had been historic. After an uninspiring mix of first years last season (no offense) we were treated to a bunch of impressive youngsters in 2017-18, with the likes of Lauri Markkanen, Dennis Smith Jr, Kyle Kuzma, Jayson Tatum and yes, even Lonzo Ball all having great years. At the end of the day though this is only a two-horse race, however, it is definitely close. The way that the Sixers and Simmons though gets him over the line.
Defensive Player of the Year
Honourable Mention: Joel Embiid, Anthony Davis
Verdict: Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
ANOTHER award race that has gone down to a bit of a coin flip for a few reasons. I gave the trophy to Rudy Gobert in the end despite the fact that the Jazz center only managed 56 games this season. His competition for the award either didn’t dominate on defense for enough of the year (Davis) or they also missed too much time (Embiid). You could convince with otherwise, but my pick is the Frenchman in the Middle.
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Most Valuable Player
Honourable Mention: LeBron James, Anthony Davis
Verdict: James Harden, Houston Rockets
I can understand the case that some people are making for LeBron James. What he has done at 33 this year with his supporting cast is awesome, but there isn’t a case that overthrows Harden. Offensively he is unstoppable, literally capable of scoring anytime he has the ball in his hands. His team has outperformed the Cavs too and probably stands a better chance of making the NBA Finals despite playing in a harder conference. I don’t even think it’s close in all honesty, James Harden deserves the MVP award.
Honourable Mentions: Kyrie Irving, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns, Nikola Jokic, Clint Capela, Paul George, Al Horford
1st team: J.Harden, D.Lillard, L.James, K.Durant, A.Davis
2nd team: R.Westbrook, D.DeRozan, G.Antetokounmpo, L.Aldridge, J.Embiid
3rd team: C.Paul, V.Oladipo, P.George, B.Simmons, D.Green
I kind of cheated here and didn’t offend anyone due to 1,048 honourable mentions. Still, a season as close as this one was meant that a lot of All-NBA team votes will look completely different. Green scrapped into the legit teams after his performance at the end of the year to help the injury-riddled Warriors stay afloat. Paul just dethrones Steph Curry for the final guard spot on the 3rd team. When he was healthy Curry was amazing, but Paul was responsible for a much greater amount of success.
THE 2nd team is pretty standard with the reigning MVP in Westbrook more than deserving of a spot here. The same can be said for Aldridge who saved the Spurs season and Embiid who proved ‘The Process’ is alive and well. Antetokonmpo was probably the MVP of the league through the first six weeks of the season and DeRozan then emerged as a contender for the next six. The 1st team should look like this on most ballots with four virtual locks. I can understand the debate over Durant place at the top, but his season outweighs Antekounmpo’s. Just.
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