Article Written by Travis Aylward (@travaylward)
In my most recent article, I did an NBA Mock Draft. Only 4 days after the draft comes the NBA Awards. Today, I will be predicting the winner of the 6 main awards – Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, Most Improved Player, and Coach of the Year.
Most Valuable Player
· James Harden – Houston Rockets
· Lebron James – Cleveland Cavaliers
· Anthony Davis – New Orleans Pelicans
My Predicted Winner: James Harden
Whether he wins the NBA finals or not, what Lebron James has done this postseason is incredible. He’s carried a team, virtually single handily, to the NBA finals. Nevertheless, James Harden is still most likely going to win Most Valuable Player. Earlier this season, Kobe Bryant weighed in on the MVP debate.
“I think James (Harden) has done so much, all season long. And for the last two years, he’s been playing phenomenally well. Had it not been for Westbrook’s historical run last year, he certainly would have won MVP last year…. I think what James (Harden) has done from Game 1 all the way through Game 82 deserves to be rewarded. I mean, this guy’s worked his butt off for the entire season and has gotten his team to the place they are now. I just don’t know what there is left for him to do to be MVP.” (Via USAtoday.com)
This past season, James Harden lead the Houston Rockets to 1st place in the Western Conference for the first time in franchise history, while winning 65 games. Harden averaged 30.4 points, 8.8 assists, and 5.4 rebounds over 2017-2018.
Rookie of the Year
· Ben Simmons - Philadelphia 76ers
· Donovan Mitchell - Utah Jazz
· Jayson Tatum – Boston Celtics
My Predicted Winner: Donovan Mitchell
Any basketball fan has probably heard the sentence, “Ben Simmons isn’t a rookie”, before. I, personally, disagree with that statement. According to the rules, Simmons is a rookie. He didn’t play in 2016-2017, therefore, he is a rookie this season. Even still, I give the edge to Donovan Mitchell for ROTY. Coming into the season, Utah wasn’t projected to make it to the second round. In fact, they were projected by ESPN to narrowly sneak into the playoffs as the 8th seed (then again, the Wizards and Hornets were both projected to have more wins then the Raptors). Even though the 76ers also made it to the second round, Philadelphia played Miami in the 1st round compared to Utah playing OKC. Ben Simmons also had Joel Embiid.
Defensive Player of the Year
· Rudy Gobert – Utah Jazz
· Joel Embiid – Philadelphia 76ers
· Anthony Davis – New Orleans Pelicans
My Predicted Winner: Joel Embiid
Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers were one of the many surprising teams this season. Projected to win just 33 games and be the 9 seed coming into the season, Joel Embiid and the Sixers blew past expectations winning 52 games and climbing to the 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. Embiid averaged 22 points, 11 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, and 0.6 steals per game this past regular season.
Sixth Man of the Year
· Lou Williams – Los Angeles Clippers
· Fred VanVleet – Toronto Raptors
· Eric Gordon – Houston Rockets
My Predicted Winner: Lou Williams
Lou Williams is likely going to win the award, but both of the other two nominees will give Lou a run for his money. Up north, Fred VanVleet had a break out season. Undrafted from Wichita State, VanVleet came out of no where. Delon Wright and VanVleet were both solid backups behind all star Point Guard Kyle Lowry, but VanVleet stood out more. Efficient scoring off the bench, and lethal 3-point shooting. VanVleet averaged 8 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds, and just below 1 turnover per game, with a 41% 3pt percentage, while playing about 20 minutes per game. As for Eric Gordon, he was good as usual. Averaging 18 points, 2.2 assists, and 2.5 rebounds, he was a key bench piece along with Trevor Ariza, PJ Tucker, Luc Mbah A Moute, and Gerald Green that lead to Houston’s long playoff run this postseason.
Most Improved Player
· Victor Oladipo – Indiana Pacers
· Clint Capela – Houston Rockets
· Spencer Dinwiddie – Brooklyn Nets
My Predicted Winner: Victor Oladipo
This was definitely the easiest award to pick out of the 6. That’s nothing against the other two candidates, just that Oladipo was incredible this season. He carried an Indiana Pacers team, that no one, and I mean no one, thought had a chance of being a contender. Indiana and Dipo put up a good fight against The King and Cleveland. Taking Lebron to 7 games, Indiana may have been the best feel good story of the season. Victor Oladipo averaged 23 points and 4 assists after averaging just 15 points and 3 assists the season prior.
Coach of the Year
· Dwane Casey – Toronto Raptors
· Brad Stevens – Boston Celtics
· Quin Snyder – Utah Jazz
My Predicted Winner: Dwane Casey
Despite being fired by the Toronto Raptors, I still believe Casey is going to win Coach of the Year. After leading his team to 59 wins in the regular season, a second consecutive year getting swept by Lebron James was anyone’s fault except Dwane Casey. It’s not his fault his stars don’t show up in the postseason. In Lowry’s defence, he actually did show up this postseason. As for Demar DeRozan, he once again did not. Casey had a 320-238 regular season career record with the Raptors, and a disappointing 21-31 career postseason record with the Raptors
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