The NBA Awards will be hosted on Monday, June 24. The event will take place in Los Angeles and will be presented by Shaquille O’Neal. So it may be a stand-up comedy show included in the program, or some roasts here and there. However, here are our predictions for this year’s NBA awards.
Most Valuable Player
Giannis Antetokounmpo lived up to his words this season and played at an MVP level from the start until the end of it. He led the Milwaukee Bucks to the 1st seed in the East and the best record in the league, while averaging 27,7 PPG, 12,5 RPG, 5,9 APG, 1,3 steals and 1,5 blocks-per-game, on 57% field-goal percentage. James Harden had a tremendous season as well, and the battle between these two is very close, for sure, but the factor that propels Giannis past James is the defense. To be included in both the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year categories as a finalist says all you need to hear about this debate. Furthermore, wins are another important factor when you have to pick one for the award, so here is another plus for Giannis’ case.
Rookie of the Year
Luka Doncic started the season so strong that people started comparing him with the rookie season of LeBron James, as he was showing his all-around skills. He can shoot off-the-dribble, he can get to the rim, pass the ball, rebound, basically he proved that he has the talent to do it all on the floor. After the first half of the season everybody was saying that this is the easiest decision to take for the award this year. After the All Star break, though, Trae Young tried to make a run for his case and played at a higher level compared to the one which he played at the start of the season, making it a little bit more even than initially expected. However, the award is given for the entire season, not only for halves, so Luka Doncic is our Rookie of the Year award winner. Luka averaged 21,2 PPG, 7,8 RPG, 6 APG and 1,1 steals-per-game while shooting 42% from-the-field. Those are easily All Star numbers. Moreover, Doncic passed Magic Johnson for third-most triple-doubles by a rookie, with 8.
Coach of the Year
Mike Budenholzer, who was a long time assistant coach for Gregg Popovich in San Antonio, is yet again on the finalists list for the Coach of the Year Award. He already has one added to his resume, as he won this trophy in the 2014-15 season, while coaching the Atlanta Hawks. This year, he managed to get his team to the 1st place while finding the right rotation to use. It’s a hard decision, as Mike Malone, the Denver Nuggets head coach, had a very good season with his team, too. No one expected them to rank that high at the end of the season, as well as not many thought that the Bucks will have the best record in the league. Given the fact that the Bucks had more wins, the award goes to coach Mike Budenholzer for the second time in his career.
Most Improved Player
Paskal Siakam, currently in his 3rd year as a Raptor, has developed his skill set a lot since last year. He improved so much that he is their second weapon at times for Toronto, after Kawhi Leonard, even in the playoffs. His numbers for this year’s regular season are 16,9 PPG, 6,9 RPG and 3,1 APG on 54% field-goal percentage. Last year he had 7,3 PPG, 4,5 RPG and 2 APG on 50% FG. Siakam is one of the reasons for the Raptors success this year, and given the position where they are currently, he is the clear favorite for the Most Improved Player award, despite of having a very talented competition.
Sixth Man Award
Lou Williams ran away once again with the prize, as he finished the season with 20 PPG, 3 RPG and 5,4 APG. Together with Montrezl Harrell, both coming off-the-bench for the Los Angeles Clippers, they were the main reasons for the team’s success in this year. Given the fact that after Tobias Harris’ departure, not many people gave them any chance to get to the playoffs anymore, yet they still did that, Sweet Lou deserves it more than anyone on that list. This will mark Lou’s third Sixth Man of the Year award in his career.
Defensive Player of the Year
Rudy Gobert seems to be the front-runner in this year’s contest, too, as he has 2,3 blocks-per-game and 12,9 RPG. Also, he is like a tower in the paint, and this helps a lot the Utah Jazz defensive scheme, as the guards can always rely on him if the opponent get past them. Gobert has a 48,9% Defensive Field-Goal Percentage on shots that are less than 10 Ft from the rim, having a DIFF% (difference) of -8,8. That means that his opponents are shooting with 8,8% less than their normal when Rudy Gobert is guarding them. On the shots that are less than 6 Ft away from the rim, he has a -11.0 DIFF%, and that’s a pretty huge difference that qualifies him for this award for the second time in his career.