Now that the regular season has finished, it's time to look at my predictions for all the awards and NBA Teams. I will look at the Top 10 candidates in order for the MVP award and the Top 5 candidates for all of the other awards.
Most Valuable Player
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo Milwaukee Bucks (60-22)
(GP 72) 27.7 Pts, 12.5 Reb, 5.9 Ast, 1.3 Stl, 1.5 Blk
58% FG, 73% FT , 26% 3P (0.7 3PM), PER 30.95
Unstoppable offensively and dominant defensively, the Greek Freak lead the Bucks to the best record in the league and should be rewarded with the MVP. My last blog here went into detail on why Giannis Antetokounmpo should win his 1st MVP Award so I won't discuss this any further.
2. James Harden Houston Rockets (53-29)
(GP 78) 36.1 Pts, 6.6 Reb, 7.6 Ast, 2 Stl, 0.7 Blk
44% FG, 88% FT, 37% 3P (4.8 3PM), PER 30.62
One of the greatest offensive seasons ever, James Harden carried the Rockets from 2nd last in the West in December to homecourt advantage in the West by season's end. Normally nine 50 point games and a host of 40 point triple doubles would be enough to win the MVP, but this year he will have to settle for being one of the best runners up ever.
3. Paul George Oklahoma City Thunder (49-33)
(GP 77) 28 Pts, 8.2 Reb, 4.1 Ast, 2.2 Stl, 0.4 Blk
44% FG, 84% FT, 39% 3P (3.8 3PM), PER 23.32
A leading contender before the All Star Break, Paul George was sensational doing everything for the Thunder on Offense and Defense. But a nagging shoulder injury and a steep decline over the last month with OKC falling from 3rd in the West to 6th, ended any chance George had of challenging for the MVP.
4. Nikola Jokic Denver Nuggets (54-28)
(GP 80) 20.1 Pts, 10.8 Reb, 7.3 Ast, 1.4 Stl, 0.7 Blk
51% FG, 82% FT, 31% 3P (1 3PM) PER 26.38
The best passing big man in NBA History, Jokic had an amazing season keeping the Nuggets in 1st or 2nd place in the tough Western Conference for most of the season after they couldn't even make the playoffs last season.
5. Stephen Curry Golden State Warriors (57-25)
(GP 69) 27.3 Pts, 5.3 Reb, 5.2 Ast, 1.3 Stl, 0.4 Blk
47% FG, 92% FT, 44% 3P (5.1 3PM), PER 24.45
Steph Curry had another spectacular season and if he didn't miss 3 weeks earlier in the season then he definitely would have been in contention. He is clearly the engine that makes the Warriors go and gets the nod over teammate Kevin Durant because of how much more the Warriors struggled without him in the lineup. The Warriors had a 5-7 record in games Curry missed including a terrible 0-5 record on the Road (51-17 record in games he played). More importantly the team chemistry went down the toilet when he was injured, with KD and Draymond having a serious conflict resulting in Green's suspension.
6. Damian Lillard Portland Trailblazers (53-29)
(GP 80) 25.8 Pts, 4.6 Reb, 6.9 Ast, 1.1 Stl, 0.4 Blk
44% FG, 91% FT, 37% 3P (3 3PM), PER 23.78
Dame has also been spectacular this year leading the Blazers to 50 wins for the first time since LaMarcus Aldridge left in 2015. He has been consistent all year leading the team through adversity when CJ McCollum went down and Jusuf Nurkic suffered the horrific season ending injury.
7. Joel Embiid Philadelphia 76ers (51-31)
(GP 64)27.5 Pts, 13.6 Reb, 3.7 Ast, 0.7 Stl, 1.9 Blk
48% FG, 80% FT, 30% 3P (1.2 3PM), 26.2 PER
Even though Philly has 4 All Star calibre players, the team relied on Big Man Joel Embiid more than ever, with a terrible 7-9 record without him. He has been a beast on both ends of the floor averaging over 27 points and 13 rebounds a game. If he played more than 65 games he would be higher on this list.
8. Kevin Durant Golden State Warriors (57-25)
(GP 79) 26 Pts, 6.4 Reb, 5.9 Ast, 0.7 Stl, 1.1 Blk
52% FG, 89% FT, 35% 3P (1.8 3PM), PER 24.26
Lost in the crowd of candidates, Kevin Durant is quietly having one of his best all around seasons averaging a career high 6 assists a game and once again shooting over 50% from the field and over 85% from the line for the 7th straight year. But Steph Curry showed at least in the regular season, he is more valuable than Durant, and KD's part in the whole Draymond Green fiasco did not exactly help his case here.
9. Kawhi Leonard Toronto Raptors (58-24)
(GP 60) 26.6 Pts, 7.3 Reb, 3.3 Ast, 1.8 Stl, 0.4 Blk
50% FG, 85% FT, 37% 3P (1.8 3PM), PER 25.89
When he has played, Kawhi Leonard has been sensational posting Career High in Points and Rebounds while shooting almost 50% from the field and 85% from the line. The problem is he hasn't played all too much, missing over 20 games at different parts of the season mainly for rest. It seemed like the Raptors just let him play whenever he felt like it so that definitely hurts his ranking here. But being the best player on the league's 3rd best team is still enough to make this list.
10. Kyrie Irving Boston Celtics (49-33)
(GP 67) 23.8 Pts, 5 Reb, 6.9 Ast, 1.5 Stl, 0.5 Blk
49% FG, 87% FT, 40% 3P (2.6 3PM), PER 24.37
Kyrie Irving and the Celtics have had a roller coaster season, failing to win 50 games when most experts predicted at least 60 wins. Irving individually is having his best all around season averaging Career Highs in Rebounds, Assists, Steals and Blocks, while scoring 24 points a game on almost 50/40/90 shooting. But his teammates have regressed with him on the floor and his leadership skills have not been the best. But his sheer individual brilliance allows him to crack the Top 10.
Shocking Top 10 Omission:
Lebron James Los Angeles Lakers (37-45)
(GP 55)27.4 Pts, 8.5 Reb, 8.3 Ast, 1.3 Stl, 0.6 Blk,
51% FG, 67% FT, 34% 3P (2 3PM), PER 25.6
Lebron James has been in the Top 5 for MVP voting for 13 straight years! The last time he finished outside the top 5 he was 20 years old and he still finished 6th and his rookie year he finished 9th as a teenager! He has made the top 10 in MVP voting every single year including his rookie season! So to not even make the Top 10 this season is beyond shocking, especially considering he was widely viewed as the games greatest player at the beginning of the season and right up until his injury.
But the Lakers have failed miserably losing against lottery teams even after he came back from injury and he has displayed poor leadership, a lack of defensive effort and a lack of ability to influence the outcomes of games. His stats alone are amazing and would normally merit a place in the Top 10 but look at the 10 guys above him. They have all easily lead their teams to the playoffs while also having outstanding individual seasons.
Honourable Mention: Russell Westbrook
(GP 73)22.9 Pts, 11.1 Reb, 10.7 Ast, 1.9 Stl, 0.5 Blk
43% FG, 66% FT, 29% 3P (1.6 3PM), PER 21.14
I have to give a shout out to Russell Westbrook who unbelievably doesn't make this list even though he is averaging a triple double for the 3rd year in a row! Yes i know he is shooting terribly from everywhere, but again he is AVERAGING A TRIPLE DOUBLE...AGAIN! It's just been a really deep year for MVP candidates but no doubt what Russ has done may never be seen again.
Defensive Player Of The Year
1. Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz)
12.9 Reb (4th), 2.3 Blk (3rd), 1st in Def RPM
The DPOY vote is even closer than the MVP vote, but Rudy Gobert just gets the nod in a tight vote over both Paul George and MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. No player in the league anchors their teams defense better than The Stifle Tower, who is 4th in rebounds, 3rd in blocks and 1st (by far) in Defensive Real Plus Minus (RPM).
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
10.4 Def Reb (2nd), Blk 1.5 (10th), 1st Def Win Shares, 10th in Def RPM
The MVP favourite has legitimate claims to be only the 3rd player to win both the MVP and DPOY after Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon. He is the only player who can legitimately guard all 5 positions, he protects his own glass better than anyone else (2nd in Defensive Rebounding and 1st in Blocks for a Non Center).
3. Paul George (Oklahoma City Thunder)
2.2 Stl (1st), 3.8 Deflections (1st), Loose Balls Recovered (1st), 3rd Def Win Shares
Paul George is also a strong candidate for the award, playing great perimeter on the ball defense while getting the opponents best scorer every night. He is 1st in steals as well as deflections and loose balls, PG has just been everywhere on the defensive end this season.
4. Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers)
2.7 Blk (1st), 5th in Def RPM
The anchor of the league's stingiest defense (only 104.3 ppg allowed), Myles Turner leads the whole NBA in block shots and is a major reason why the Pacers have secured a top 5 seed despite missing their best player Victor Oladipo for half the season.
5. Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers)
13.6 Reb (2nd), 11.1 Def Reb (1st), 1.9 Blk (6th), 4th in Def Win Shares
One of the best rebounders and shot blockers in the league, Embiid is 4th in Defensive Win Shares and protects his own glass ferociously with 11.1 Defensive rebounds a game,1st in the NBA.
Rookie Of The Year
1. Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks)
(GP 72) 21.2 Pts, 7.8 Reb, 6 Ast, 1.1 Stl, 0.3 Blk
43% FG, 71% FT, 33% 3P (2.3 3PM), PER 19.61
In what was once a landslide decision, Trae Young has made the ROY race interesting in the last few weeks, but there is no doubt that Luka Doncic will win this award. The rookie sensation is averaging a ridiculous 21 pts, almost 8 rebounds and 6 assists a game, numbers only ever achieved once in history by Oscar Robertson!
2. Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks)
(GP 81) 19.1 Pts, 3.7 Reb, 8.1 Ast, 0.9 Stl, 0.2 Blk
42% FG, 83% FT, 32% 3P (1.9 3PM), PER 17.03
Any other year Trae Young would be ROY and the fact is Ice Trae has been even better than Cool Hand Luka over the last couple months averaging a mind boggling 25 points, 9 assists and 5 rebounds a game since the All Star Break!
3. Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns)
(GP 71)16.3 Pts, 10.3 Reb, 1.8 Ast, 0.9 Stl, 0.9 Blk
59% FG, 75% FT, PER 20.54
This years 1st pick Deandre Ayton has not been as spectacular as Doncic or Young but he has been impressively consistent all season basically averaging a solid 16 and 10 almost every single month.
4. Jaren Jackson Jr. (Memphis Grizzlies)
(GP 58) 13.8 Pts, 4.7 Reb, 1.1 Ast, 0.9 Stl, 1.4 Blk
51% FG, 77% FT, 36% 3P (0.9 3PM), PER 16.43
19 year old wonder kid Triple J adapted amazingly well to the NBA averaging almost 15 points on 54% shooting in November and maintaining that pace for most of the season. He was also very good defensively with 1.4 blocks a game and he is not afraid of the big moment, making multiple big shots for the Grizzlies, none bigger than a 3 pointer followed by a 4 point play to send a game to overtime against the Nets, part of a Career High 36 point performance that night.
5. Collin Sexton (Cleveland Cavaliers)
(GP 82) 16.7 Pts, 2.9 Reb, 3 Ast, 0.5 Stl, 0.1 Blk
43% FG, 84% FT, 40% 3P (1.5 3PM), PER 12.1
With a late season charge Collin Sexton squeaks on to this list over Marvin Bagley who has also been great, especially in the 2nd half of the season. Sexton has been ballin since the All Star Break, averaging 21 points on 48% shooting and 43% from 3. But his assist rate is lowest amongst all point guards and he will need to improve his playmaking to take his game to the next level.
Honourable Mention: Marvin Bagley (Sacramento Kings)
6th Man Of The Year
1. Lou Williams (Los Angeles Clippers)
(GP 75) 20 Pts, 3 Reb, 5.4 Ast, 0.8 Stl, 0.1 Blk
43% FG, 88% FT, 36% 3P (1.4 3PM), PER 21.3
Lou Williams is the comfortable choice here leading the most surprising team in the league the L.A Clippers to the playoffs despite trading away their best player Tobias Harris before the All Star Break. Sweet Lou leads all 6th men in scoring at 20 ppg and he has made countless big shots down the stretch for the Clips.
2. Spencer Dinwiddie (Brooklyn Nets)
(GP 68) 16.8 Pts, 2.4 Reb, 4.6 Ast, 0.6 Stl, 0.3 Blk
44% FG, 81% FT, 34% 3P (1.8 3PM), PER 16.32
Another 6th man who is relied on to score in the 4th quarter, Spencer Dinwiddie has been instrumental in helping the Nets make the post season for the 1st time since 2015. He averaged 20 points in December when the Nets went on a 7 game win streak to solidify their playoff spot and who could forget his clutch 25 point 4th quarter performance against the Rockets including three 3 pointers in the last 30 seconds to force overtime in a big road win.
3. Domantas Sabonis (Indiana Pacers)
(GP 74) 14.1 Pts, 9.3 Reb, 2.9 Ast, 0.6 Stl, 0.4 Blk
59% FG, 72% FT, PER 21.99
The son of Basketball legend Arvydas, Domantas really made a name for himself this season, averaging 14 points and 9.3 rebounds off the bench on a super efficient 59% shooting from the field. He has been the most reliable player for the Pacers the whole season and has a great future.
4. Montrezl Harrell (Los Angeles Clippers)
(GP 82) 16.6 Pts, 6.5 Reb, 2 Ast, 0.9 Stl, 1.3 Blk
62% FG, 64% FT, PER 23.44
Out West, Montrezl Harrell has been just as good as Sabonis, playing every game for the Clippers and averaging 16.5 pts on an even more efficient 61% shooting. If it wasn't for his own teammate Lou Williams relegating him to 7th man, Harrell would be higher on this list.
5. Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat)
(GP 72) 15 Pts, 4 Reb, 4.2 Ast, 0.8 Stl, 0.5 Blk
43% FG, 71% FT, 33% 3P (1.2 3PM), PER 15.86
The Heat did not make the playoffs, but don't blame NBA Legend D-Wade who has been amazingly good and better than anyone thought he could be in his swansong season. He did everything he could averaging 20 ppg in April willing the Heat to keep his Career going, but it just wasn't to be. In his final season, he averaged 15 ppg with some huge 4th quarters, none more memorable than a desperate 3 point buzzer beater to beat the Warriors by 1, one of the craziest shots of the decade.
Honourable Mention: Derrick Rose (Minnesota Timberwolves)
(GP 51) 18 Pts, 2.7 Reb, 4.3 Ast, 0.6 Stl, 0.2 Blk
48% FG, 86% FT, 38% 3P (1.7 3PM), PER 19.52
One of the feel good stories of the season has been Derrick Rose's resurgence after it looked like his career might be over. Old Coach Tom Thibodeau finally gave Rose a fair chance and boy did he respond averaging 18 points a game and making several clutch plays for the Wolves, none bigger than a Career High 50 points against the Jazz including the game winner and game winning block. If he played more than 51 games and the Wolves made the playoffs he would have made this list.
Most Improved Player
1. Pascal Siakam (Toronto Raptors)
(GP 80) 16.9 Pts, 7.3 Reb, 3.3 Ast, 0.9 Stl, 0.7 Blk
55% FG, 79% FT, 37% 3P (1 3PM), PER 18.74
In my opinion Pascal Siakam is the clear choice for Most Improved Player this year. He is the definition of a M.I.P increasing his stats all across he board, averaging significantly more points (16.9 compared to 7.3!) and more rebounds, assists, blocks and steals, while improving his FG% FT% and 3P%. He even improves month to month, setting a career high in scoring 7 times this season and he has become a legitimate threat from 3 hitting almost 2 3s a game at over 40% shooting since February.
2. D'Angelo Russell (Brooklyn Nets)
(GP 81) 21.1 Pts, 3.9 Reb, 7 Ast, 1.2 Stl, 0.2 Blk
43% FG, 78% FT, 37% 3P (2.9 3PM), PER 19.48
A lot of people including Magic Jonson wrote off former 2nd pick D'Angelo Russell but he has proven a lot of people wrong this year. He has upped his scoring from 15 to over 21 a game and he has become a leader and has many clutch moments this season, none bigger than the huge 28 point 4th quarter to lead a 25 point comeback at Sacramento that pretty much sealed their playoff spot.
3. Bojan Bogdanovic (Indiana Pacers)
(GP 81) 18 Pts, 4.1 Reb, 2 Ast, 0.9 Stl, 0 Blk
50% FG, 81% FT, 43% 3P (2 3PM), PER 16.14
Ever since franchise player Victor Oladipo went down with a season ending injury, everyone thought it was over for the Pacers. But Bojan Bogdanovic refused to give in, carrying the Pacers in scoring and maintaining their top 5 seed in the East. He averaged over 22 points a game on a blistering 53% shooting and 43% from 3 for over 2 months in February and March, and has gone from a nice role player to a top scorer in this league.
4. Buddy Hield (Sacramento Kings)
(GP 82) 20.7 Pts, 5 Reb, 2.5 Ast, 0.7 Stl, 0.4 Blk
46% FG, 89% FT, 43% 3P (3.4 3PM), PER 17.6
You could argue Sacramento teammate De'Aaron Fox deserves some consideration but I don't like to include 2nd year players in this vote as their should be a natural improvement from their rookie year. But Buddy Hield has been even better upping his scoring from 13.5 ppg to 20.8 ppg this season leading the Kings to a shocking 9th place finish in the West.
5. Montrezl Harrell (Los Angeles Clippers)
Montrezl Harrell has also had his minutes and production increased this season and he along with Lou Williams form a formidable duo off the bench for the Clippers. He has an amazing PER of 23.44 easily the highest number on this list.
Coach Of The Year
1. Mike Budenholzer (Milwaukee Bucks 60-22, Last Year 44-38)
Lots of great candidates as always but none more deserving then Mike Budenholzer who is quite simply a genius tactician, especially in the regular season. He reinvented the offense and to utilize Giannis's skills and he made the Bucks into the best defensive team in the league. Milwaukee went from 7th in the East and the 16th best record last season at 44-38, to top of the league with 61 wins - a 17 win jump with virtually the same roster.
2. Doc Rivers (Los Angeles Clippers 48-34, Last Year 42-40)
What Doc has done this season, effectively coaching two different teams and losing his best player for the 3rd time in the last couple years has been remarkable. The Clippers traded away Tobias Harris before the All Star Break and they are now starting two rookies (Shamet and SGA) and another kid in Ivica Zubac, yet they just keep winning and winning, including 13 out of 15 games late in the season to eliminate the Lakers and seal their own playoff spot.
3. Mike Malone (Denver Nuggets 54-28, Last Year 46-36)
What a great season it has been for Mike Malone and the Denver Nuggets. After missing the playoffs by a mere 1 game in both of the last 2 seasons, the Nuggets started this season on a mission and they never looked back, alternating between 1st and 2nd place with the defending champs for almost all of the season.
4. Nate McMillan (Indiana Pacers 48-34, Last Year 48-34)
He many not have had the wins improvement from the previous season like the other candidates for COY, but nobody had a tougher job then Nate McMillan as he had to navigate through the loss of his best player Victor Oladipo early in the season. He did amazing job to not only keep Indiana afloat but to maintain a top 5 seeding and stay 14 games over .500.
5. Kenny Atkinson (Brooklyn Nets 42-40, 28-54)
Who would have thought the Nets would be this good and exciting to watch when the season started? Coach Kenny Atkinson is the main reason why, establishing a culture of defense, teamwork and accountability while taking previously unwanted D-League players such as Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris and turning them into great players. And what he has done for D'Angelo Russell and also Caris Levert cannot be understated.
All NBA 1st Team
The 2 MVP candidates were locks, but there could be debate between the other 3 spots: KD vs PG, Jokic vs Embiid and Steph vs Dame.
A month ago Paul George was a lock to make the 1st team but a shoulder injury severely affected his shooting and overall play which has opened the door for Kevin Durant to get the 1st team vote. However overall PG has been as good or better than KD offensively while he has been a far superior defender so he just gets my vote.
Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid could really go either way. I think most people would agree Embiid is the better more dominant player but what Jokic did for the Nuggets this year as an only All Star while playing 80 games to Embiid's 64 gives him the slight edge in my book.
Finally Damian Lillard had another spectacular season and has navigated the Blazers through some significant injuries while leading them to 50 wins. But Steph Curry is the better player while also having a great season, and his importance to the best team in the West cannot be understated.
All NBA 2nd Team
Not much argument here in the frontcourt with Durant, Embiid and Kawhi Leonard. Likewise Damian Lillard is a lock and the only real debate is for the last guard spot between Kyrie Irving and Russell Westbrook.
Westbrook has averaged a triple double for the 3rd season in a row and it is amazing to think a player could average a triple double on a good team and not make the 1st two All NBA Teams. But he has shot horribly from the field (43%) and the line (66%) and Kyrie has also had an amazing season but with crazy shooting percentages of 49% FG, 87% FT, 40% 3s so he just gets it.
All NBA 3rd Team
The 3rd team is where it gets really difficult. Russell Westbrook and Lebron James have to make it but after that the other 3 spots are up for grabs.
In the middle it is a two man race with Rudy Gobert's defense and team performance up against Karl Anthony Town's ridiculous production, especially since the All Star Break. But Gobert has been instrumental to Utah's success, not just defensively but offensively with his pick and roll and screen assists. The fact that Towns was getting big stats in mostly meaningless late season games hurts his case here.
For the last forward spot it came down to Lamarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin, with Blake winning out based on his superior all around stats, significantly improved 3 point shooting and the fact that he carried the Pistons the whole year offensively.
For the guards there were endless candidates. Kemba Walker, Bradley Beal, Mike Conley, Klay Thompson, Demar Derozan, Donovan Mitchell, D'Angelo Russell and Ben Simmons.
In the end I went with Kemba as he has been a one man team for the Hornets all season averaging 25.6 Points a Game including 34 points a game in April trying to will his Hornets to playoffs, but ultimately falling short on the last day of the season. Beal and Conley have been just as good but their teams have not played a meaningful game for a couple months. Klay, Demar and Ben miss out for being the 2nd/3rd options on their team while Spida Mitchell and D-Lo played amazing especially after the New Year but not quite enough to beat out Kemba.
All NBA Defense 1st Team
No real argument here in the frontcourt with Paul George, Giannis and Rudy Gobert most likely to be selected to the 1st team.
The backcourt has endless candidates but I am going with Jrue Holiday and Marcus Smart who are so tough and versatile they can guard point guards, shooters and even tall wing men like Paul George and Kevin Durant effectively.
All NBA Defense 2nd Team
Again the frontcourt here is a bit easier to select with shot blocking leader Myles Turner beating out Joel Embiid and former DPOY Draymond Green and M.I.P Pascal Siakam getting the forward slots.
Green has not been as good defensively as previous seasons but he is still key to the Warriors success and his versatility and toughness is second to none. If Robert Covington played more than 35 games than he definitely would have made this team and Kawhi Leonard would also normally make it but he has not been as good this year so his teammate Pascal Siakam who has been great defensively all year for the Raptors gets my vote.
For the final two guards, it is almost impossible to choose and you could take your pick from Eric Bledsoe, Patrick Beverley, Danny Green, Klay Thompson and Derrick White. I really wanted to reward Klay Thompson since he has never made the team but a closer look shows he has a terrible defensive RPM this year so it's hard to justify voting him in over the other candidates. Danny Green is the best defender in transition and is one of the best shot blocking guards while Derrick White has been the Spurs best defender by far this year. But ultimately I went with Eric Bledsoe who has been so reliable for the Bucks league leading defense and Patrick Beverly who is recognized by his peers as one of the best defenders and has been a huge reason for the Clippers success this year.
All Rookie 1st Team
The only real debate for the All Rookie 1st Team is whether Marvin Bagley should make it probably over Collin Sexton. But Sexton has been on fire the last couple months and by selecting him it allows everyone to play their natural positions.
All Rookie 2nd Team
Other than Marvin Bagley and maybe Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the other 3 spots are really up in the air. Honourable mentions go to Kevin Knox, Allonzo Trier, Kevin Huerter, Jalen Brunson, Rodions Kurucs, Mikal Bridges, Miles Bridges, Mo Bamba and Wendell Carter Jr (Who would have made the 2nd team if he played more games).
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