With the NBA resuming on July 31st, let’s take a look to see who is an early candidate for each award.
Defensive Player Of The Year
Historically, there have been two other players to win MVP and DPOY; Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon. Giannis Antetokounmpo has been a floor general on the defensive end. He can cover a lot of ground with his wingspan and height. Flying in to grab rebounds after contesting a shot is poetic to watch. The ‘Greek Freak’ has a lot of mobility to him where he can get into difficult situations on the floor and can convert on top of it.
Averaging 13 rebounds and one block per game, Antetokounmpo is an elite defender and one of the best two-way players in the league. His awareness on the court has made him a great defender; knowing where to cover at the right time. He also is great on the weak side being able to take a giant step to block the shot.
Coach Of The Year
Nick Nurse led a Kawhi-less Raptors team to second in the East. He has been changing the starting lineup all year long and still managed to make a top two defense in the league. No one really expected the Raptors to be in this position with Siakam and Lowry missing 10 games with an injury; the Raptors looked like a one-and-done team. Ibaka has not played a game since January 28th either, but here they are led by Nurse to make a run for the NBA Championship.
Most Improved Player
Brandon Ingram has made his case all year long why he should win Most Improved Player. Last year on the Lakers, he averaged 18.3 points per game. This year, he has 24.2; an increase of 5.9 points. The first time All-Star has increased his three-point % from 33% to 38%. That is so significant to his game as Ingram is mostly looked at as a mid-range shooter. Don’t forget Ingram had a season-high and career-high 49 points against the Jazz in January. In that same night, he made 11 three-pointers.
Rookie Of The Year
Zion Williamson has been a sensational player all year. With his knee surgery in the beginning of the season, he hasn’t played most of the season; however, since his January 22nd debut, Williamson has averaged 23 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game. Williamson had a record-setting 13 straight games with 20+ points. With Williamson on the floor, the Pelicans have averaged 13.9 more points per 100 possessions. Compared to the Grizzlies and Ja Morant’s 1.8 points per 100 possessions.
Sixth Man of the Year
Another Clippers player can win the Sixth Man of the Year too. Montrezl Harrell has a career high 18 points and seven rebounds per game. He is shooting 59% from the field and has been a defensive and rebounding threat. Coming off the bench and adding some more aggressiveness and points has helped the Clippers out towards the end of the fourth quarter; giving them an extra push.
Most Valuable Player
Without a doubt, Giannis Antetokounmpo will win back-to-back MVP awards. Per 75 possessions, Anteokounmpo is first in points with 32.9 points per game through 57 games. Harden is right behind him with 32.6 PPG, and played in 61 games. Offensively, Anteokounmpo hits 62% of his two-point shots making him very effective from the field. In order to be MVP, you have to be valuable to the team; with Anteokounmpo on the floor, the Bucks are +14 rating and +8 when he’s off the court. He has been consistently putting up favorable numbers, making him a reason to win MVP again.