My NBA Awards Preview

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*These are all my predictions, all stats via basketball-reference.com*

NBA All-Defensive Team

G: Chris Paul – Clippers
G: Tony Allen – Grizzles
F: Kawhi Leonard – Spurs
F: Draymond Green – Warriors
C: Rudy Gobert – Jazz

NBA All-Rookie Team

*The All-Rookie teams do not have positional requirements*

Malcolm Brogdon, G – Bucks
Dario Saric, F – 76ers
Joel Embiid, C – 76ers
Buddy Hield, G – Kings
Willy Hernangomez, C – Knicks

NBA All-Rookie Second Team

Jamal Murray, G – Nuggets
Jaylen Brown, F – Celtics
Rodney McGruder, G – Heat
Marquese Chriss, F – Suns
Yogi Ferrell, G – Mavericks

Executive of the Year

Daryl Morey – Rockets

All-NBA First Team

G: Russell Westbrook, Thunder
G: James Harden, Rockets
F: Kawhi Leonard, Spurs
F: LeBron James, Cavaliers
C: Rudy Gobert, Jazz

Westbrook, Harden, Leonard, and Lebron James have clearly been the four best players in the league this season. Westbrook averaged a triple-double, and Harden was a couple rebounds away from doing the same thing as a shooting guard. Kawhi Leonard is arguably the best two-way player in the league, and Lebron James, well, he’s still Lebron James, and will make his tenth All-NBA team in a row. The part where this gets interesting is the debate is at the center position. It comes down to a choice between Rudy Gobert and Anthony Davis. While he did play mainly power forward after the DeMarcus Cousins trade, I do still consider Ant a Center, but despite that, he still doesn’t get the nod for the best in the league. That honor goes to Rudy Gobert, maybe the most underappreciated player in the league, who brought the Jazz to the conference semis. Not only is Gobert one of the best defensive players in the league, he is one of the best overall players in the league. This year, Gobert had a win share of 14.3. Win Share is a stat that determines how many wins a player was responsible for. To compare, Russell Westbrook had 13.1 wins, Lebron James had 12.9 wins, and Anthony Davis? He was responsible for 11 wins.

All-NBA Second Team

G: Steph Curry – Warriors
G: Isaiah Thomas – Celtics
F: Giannis Antetokounmpo – Bucks
F: Jimmy Butler – Bulls
C: Anthony Davis – Pelicans

Steph Curry made the second-most three pointers in a season EVER and he might not get a single vote for first-team, which show you how good the guards are in today’s NBA. Giannis also made history by being the first player to ever break the top-twenty in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks in a single season. Anthony Davis is a no-brainer if he misses the first team, The Brow led the league in points per game among power forwards and centers. Isaiah Thomas stole the second guard spot from John Wall during the Celtics’ push for the #1 seed. The last Forward spot gave me the most trouble, but the combination of Kevin Durant’s injury, and that Jimmy Butler had a far less superior team around him gave the slight edge to Butler.

All-NBA Third Team

G: John Wall – Wizards
G: Chris Paul – Clippers
F: Kevin Durant – Warriors
F: Draymond Green – Warriors
C: Karl-Anthony Towns – Timberwolves

Wall and Durant are both shoe-ins, so we’ll get them out of the way. The other guard spot goes to Chris Paul, who although missing some games, still but up crazy numbers and finished top-five in steals and assists. The second Forward spot was also tough, with Draymond Green, Paul George, and Gordon Hayward battling it out. I gave the nod to Draymond because he is the superior defensive player of the three, and while his offensive numbers don’t compare to the other two, he had Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, and Klay Thompson, three of the best scorers in the league on the same team as him, and had he been on the Pacers, he probably would have put up similar numbers. The last spot, Center, might be the toughest of them all; Brook Lopez, DeMarcus Cousins, Marc Gasol, and Hassan Whiteside all have cases to make, but for me, it comes down to Nikole Jokic and Karl-Anthony Towns. Towns’ defense didn’t live up to expectations, but his incredible scoring numbers (2,061 to Jokic’s 1,221) tip the scales just enough to cancel that out. Jokic will be a First-Team caliber player in a few years, but he just didn’t play enough minutes to make it this year.

Most Improved Player

Winner: Giannis Antetokounmpo, F – Bucks 
#2: Rudy Gobert, C – Jazz
#3: Isaiah Thomas, G – Celtics

Giannis is a no-brainer for this award. He went from rising star to starting for the Eastern Conference All-Stars in one year. He improved across the board, PPG, RPG, APG, SPG, BPG, FG%, 3-PT%, and pretty much any other category that you can think of. In a normal year, this would be a crowded race with a bunch of interesting candidates, but Giannis isn’t normal.

Defensive Player of the Year

Winner: Draymond Green, F – Warriors
#2: Rudy Gobert, C – Jazz
#3: Kawhi Leonard, F – Spurs

This was the hardest award for my to decide on, including MVP. Rudy Gobert leads the league in defensive +/-, and is without a doubt the best rim protector in the league, advanced stats say that, but I have to give the slight edge to Draymond Green. Green is the most versatile defender in basketball, he was a rim protector at times, and he guarded James Harden. Part of this might be “he deserves it” mentality after seeing Green fall votes shy of winning this award twice in a row, but he deserves it.

Sixth Man of the Year

Winner: Andre Iguodala, F – Warriors
#2: Eric Gordon, G – Rockets
#3: Greg Monroe, C – Bucks

Andre Iguodala gets the nod as the best sixth-man in the game. While Iggy’s numbers (8 PPG) don’t seem to stack up to those of Gordon, he was the better two-way player, and the better player from an efficiency perspective. He led all reserves among win shares, and while he didn’t shoot much, when he did it went in, finishing with a true shooting % of over 62%, well outpacing Gordon. Lou Williams (17 PPG) probably would’ve been second, moving Gordon (16 PPG) down to third, but the Lakers traded Williams away at the deadline, and Williams fell into a seventh-man role behind Gordon.

Rookie of the Year

Winner: Malcolm Brogdon, G – Bucks
#2: Dario Saric, F – 76ers
#3: Willy Hernangomez, C – Knicks

The fact that anybody could vote for Joel Embiid to win this award is just laughable. It’s the Rookie of the YEAR award, not the Rookie of the 38% of the year award. Embiid played in under 20% of the Sixers minutes this season. We penalize Dario Saric for a bad first half of the year, that’s generally agreed upon, he had a rough first half, and then was the best rookie in the second half, but Brogdon was better overall. How does that not also apply to Joel Embiid? For all we know, Embiid could have had a Saric-esque second half of the year. Now yes, anybody with half a brain knows that Embiid will probably go on to be the best player of the three, but you can’t give someone a … of the YEAR award when they miss over half the year. Malcolm Brogdon led all rookies, INCLUDING EMBIID in win shares, and he gets my nod as the rightful rookie of the year.

Coach of the Year

Winner: Mike D’Antoni – Rockets
#2: Gregg Popovich – Spurs

Mike D’Antoni took an average team and brought them to a season in which they were favored in the playoffs. James Harden played well and D’Antoni brought in a solid bench to go along with him. Gregg Popovich is one of the greatest coaches of all time, and he did it again without Tim Duncan, but lets let someone else win for once, eh?

Most Valuable Player

Winner: James Harden, G – Rockets
#2: Kawhi Leonard, F – Spurs
#3: Russell Westbrook, G – Thunder
#4: LeBron James, F – Cavaliers
#5: Rudy Gobert, C – Jazz

Kawhi Leonard is the best two-way player in the league, Russell Westbrook averaged a triple-double, but James Harden is the Most Valuable Player in the league. The Rockets win the trio of Executive of the Year, Coach of the Year, and (in essence) Player of the Year. Houston came into the year expected to have a losing record by Vegas, and under Harden’s leadership, he led the Rockets to the #3 seed in the Western Conference. Harden dished out twelve assists playing as a mix between a 1 and a 2 guard, and he led the NBA in win shares at 15. He is the Most Valuable Player.

Some say that Russell Westbrook put up the best statline in the history of the NBA, but I don’t even have him at #2. That goes to Kawhi Leonard. Leonard is commonly referred to as the “best two-way player in the league,” given that basketball is a two-way sport, doesn’t that make him the best player? Right now I would put “The Claw” behind only LeBron, who comes in at #4 because this isn’t the best player award, it’s the Most Valuable Player, and Kyrie Irving is also on the Cavaliers. You go into an alternate timeline and take Russell Westbrook off the Thunder or LeBron off the Cavs, those teams may drop ten more games, but you take away Kawhi Leonard or James Harden, you are looking at an entirely different season for those teams.

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