Date: Monday June 26, 2017
Time: 9 PM ET
Where: Basketball City at Pier 36 in NYC
Hosted by Drake.
*This is who I think SHOULD win each NBA award, not who I think WILL win.
Most Valuable Player
Finalists: James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, Russell Westbrook
Who should win? Russell Westbrook
Only two players in NBA history averaged a triple-double for an entire season. Oscar Robertson. Russell Westbrook. Westbrook is not the best player in the NBA. The best player is not even a finalist for this award (Lebron James). Between the three finalists Westbrook averaged the most points and rebounds, while only trailing Harden in assists. Kawhi and Harden helped their teams finish higher in the standings than Westbrook. However, Westbrook is the Oklahoma City Thunder. Look at each team without their star player. The Spurs still make the playoffs without Kawhi. The Rockets would have a chance to finish as the 7th or 8th seed without Harden. If you take Westbrook away from the Thunder, they become one of the worst if not the worst team in the league. The reason for him winning this award is not because he averaged a triple-double, but because he is the more valuable to his team than any other player in the NBA.
Rookie of the Year
Finalists: Malcom Brogdon, Joel Embiid, Dario Saric
Who should win? Dario Saric
Joel Embiid was running away with this award before he sustained an injury. He was dominating the game all around and could have even been an All-Star. Unfortunately, in my eyes a player who has only played in 31 games cannot win an award like this. Embiid did not even qualify to be a leader in any statistical category. This rookie class was weak besides Joel and there really was no one that stood out. However, Saric had a very strong second half for the 76ers and I think he sealed the deal by doing so. He led all rookies with 12.8 points per game, was second in rebounds per game with 6.3, and even finished top ten (8th) in assists per game. Brogdon was a very solid player for the Bucks and deserves some recognition as Rookie of the Year. He led all rookies in assists per game and was third in points. In my eyes no rookie deserves this award, but it has to be given and it should go to Saric.
Finalists: Eric Gordon, Andre Iguodala, Lou Williams
Who should win? Andre Iguodala
When you look at the statistics you would think this award should never go to Iguodala. What he provides is much beyond the numbers. Out of these three he is the best two-way player. On top of that he brings a spark to the court every time he steps on it. It is as if he brings the intensity of the Warriors to a whole other level. Gordon is just as deserving and I believe this award comes down to a two-man race. Gordon played starter minutes for the Rockets even though he came off the bench for them. He was able to average 16.2 points per game while shooting 37.2 percent from beyond the arc. Iguodala shot exactly a percentage less from beyond the arc, but his PER was a 14.4 compared to Gordon’s 13.1. On top of that Iguodala’s win shares were 3 more wins than Gordon’s. The spark and the efficiency off the bench are too valuable and I think Iguodala deserves this award over Gordon.
Coach of the Year
Finalists: Mike D’Antoni, Gregg Popovich, Erik Spoelstra
Who should win? Mike D’Antoni
D’Antoni deserves this award not only in part of how he improved the team, but also because of how he improved James Harden’s game. James Harden went from just a scoring machine to a guard who can play both guard positions, can score better than almost anyone in the league, and can pass with the best of them. Gregg Popovich can win this award almost every year, as I believe he is the best coach of all time. It was amazing what Erik Spoelstra was able to do with a team who lost Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. The Heat also finished 30-11 after starting 11-30. However, Mike D’Antoni was the only coach of the three to oversee an improvement in the win-loss totals from the year before. The Rockets won 14 more games this year and finished with a 55-27 record. D’Antoni did an amazing job with the Rockets and he deserves this award.
Most Improved Player
Finalists: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Rudy Gobert, Nikola Jokic
Who should win? Giannis Antetokounmpo
Three foregin players headline this list as Giannis takes this one home. Rudy Gobert has turned into one of the best defensive centers in the game, while dominating on the boards. Nikola Jokic became one of the best all around centers in the game. He was able to not only score and grab rebounds, but also pass with flash. However, Antetokounmpo took the biggest step out of all three, as he became the newest NBA superstar. He saw improvements in assists per game, rebounds per game, points per game, free throw percentage, three-point percentage, and field goal percentage. To me this seems like the definition of an improved player. Giannis also led the Bucks in points per game, rebounds per game, assists per game, bocks per game, and steals per game. I think this is just the beginning for him, as he is going to keep improving his game. He is the next best thing in this league and next year I believe we talk about him as a top 5 player in the NBA.
Defensive Player of the Year
Finalists: Rudy Gobert, Draymond Green, Kawhi Leonard
Who should win? Rudy Gobert
All three of these men are unbelievable defensive players. This was the hardest award for me to pick. Draymond Green is the best on-ball defender in the NBA and he brings the intensity every single night. He led the NBA in steals per game. Kawhi Leonard aka “The Claw” is a solid on-ball defender as well, but I think he is a bit overrated as a defender. He is top 10 in steals per game, but he averages less than one black per game and he is not even top 50 in defensive real plus-minus. This award is a real tough pick between Gobert and Green. What makes the difference to me is the defensive real plus-minus numbers for the both of these players. They are first and second in the league in this category. Who is number one? Rudy Gobert. Not only does he lead in this category, but he also leads the league with 2.6 blocks per game and he averages 8.9 defensive rebounds per game. Gobert is a force to be reckoned with in the paint. He misses out on most improved player, but he wins this one.