There are 6 individual NBA regular season awards: MVP, Defensive Player Of The Year, Rookie Of The Year, Most Improved, Six Man Of The Year, and Coach Of The Year. Some of these races are extremely close. I’ll give my predictions on all of the races.
Giannis Antetokounmpo vs James Harden
One of the closets MVP races we have had in years. One player had one of the best offensive seasons of all time. Harden averaged 36.1 points and 7.5 assists. Harden even averaged 2 steals per game, 2nd overall in the league. Harden lead his team to a 53-29 record, finishing 4th in the West. No player in league history has averaged 35+ points and 7+ assists per game for a whole season. Historic season! Giannis on the other hand lead the Bucks to the number 1 overall seed. 3rd in points with 27.7, 6th in rebounds with 12.5 (highest among non-centers) The bucks are 4-6 without Giannis, which includes losses to teams such as the Cavs, Hawks, and Wizards. Giannis has put up the most efficient season in 20 years. Giannis efficiency is 35, Jordan was 37 in the 88-89 season. In a league dominated by the West the Bucks still held their own winning 20 of their 30 games, including Giannis leading them with wins over the Warriors, Jazz, and sweeping the Nuggets and the Harden lead Rockets. Giannis lead this team to being the highest scoring offense in the league and the favorites to represent in the East. Giannis leads the best offensive and defensive team in the league.
Pascal Siakam vs Deangelo Russell
The most improved player race is crowded with players like De’Aaron Fox, D.J. Wilson, and Jahlil Okafor all improving and having really good seasons, but there’s two players above them all. Pascal Siakam and Deangelo Russell. Pascal Siakam had the biggest jump in points per game among all NBA players, jumping from 7.3 ppg to 16.9ppg. Siakam was a player defenders left alone from the three last year, as he shot a terrible 22% from the arc. This year he’s shooting 37%. Siakam being the 3rd option for the raptors a lot of time was the 2nd option as Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard missed a combined 39 games, but Siakam kept the team afloat as they finished 2nd in the east and 3rd overall. Deangelo Russell improved in a number of areas in more than just stats. Russell saw a jump in ppg from 15.5 to 21.1. His assists jumped up from 5.2 to 7 per game. He became a better shooter, improving in FG%. Russell was a named an All Star for the first time, but most important in his first full season (missed just under half the season due to injury last season) he led the Nets to their best season in 5 years, and first playoff appearance in 4 years. Not only did Russell improved but he improved the team as well. If there is any chance of an upset in the East, Russell and the nets have the best chance.
Coach Of The Year
Mike Malone vs Mike Budenholzer vs Doc Rivers
Mike Malone’s Nuggets ended their 2018 season losing to the Timberwolves in overtime on the last day of the regular season leaving the nuggets on the outside looking in as the Timberwolves took the 8th seed. The nuggets are now the 2nd seed in the West and 4th best seed overall. They jumped up in victories with 8 more wins, clinching their first playoff berth in 6 years, and first division title in 9 years. Mike Budenholzer and the Bucks were by far the best team in the NBA. Finish the season number 1 overall, and the only 60 win team this year. Budenholzer’s Bucks were the best offensive and defensive team in the league. The Bucks were the 7th seed last year in the East, but winning 16 more games than the previous season changed all of that. Out of the three coaches up for this award, only one has a team that is a favorite to go to the finals, and that Budenholzer’s Bucks. The fact that Doc Rivers is even in this conversation is amazing in itself. The Clippers were supposed to be one of the worst teams in the West, yet they just kept winning and winning, and found themselves in the the 8th seed. The Clippers are the only playoff team without an All Star or All-NBA player on their team, and yes Oladipo may not be playing but he’s still a Pacer. This offseason they lost DeAndre Jordan, then made a mid season trade to the 76ers sending them Tobias Harris, which looked like they were in full tank mode. Instead they went in grind mode and finished with 48 victories, 6 more than last year, and a jump from the 10th seed. Yes Mike Malone and Mike Budenholzer have better seeding and more victories, but they also have a lot more talent than Rivers’ Clippers. Who is my winner though?
Remaining Award Winners
Defensive Player Of The Year - Gobert over Giannis and PG
Rookie Of The Year - Luca over Trey
Sixth Man Of Man The Year - Lou Williamson