The NBA Awards may be half a year away, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take what the players have produced so far and predict how the awards will be handed out. Some of these are no brainers, like if someone doesn’t have Ben Simmons as their ROTY then they’re either incredibly biased or just doesn’t watch basketball. Some awards though, like the DPOY and Most Improved player, can cause some controversy. I’m giving you my predictions of each award in the NBA, based off of the play of the athletes through the beginning of December. So without further ado, the most important award there is:
MVP- James Harden
Sitting on top of the western conference at 17-4, this Houston Rockets team has looked deadly to any team that claims to have lockdown perimeter defenders. You thought that Golden State is the best 3 point shooting team of all time? No team in the NBA (not even the Golden State Warriors) has had a game making over 20 3 pointers, except for the James Harden led Houston Rockets. They’ve done it 4 times. 4! So for the people who said James Harden can win an MVP because he only chases stats and can’t lead a team himself, his play this year is aimed right at you.
He’s averaging 31.5 points a game(leading the league) and 9.8 assists per game(also leading the league). He has had 2 of the 3 highest scoring games in the league this season(only behind LeBron James 57 point game) and has a total of 633 points. Which is currently 60 more points than LeBron has. Everyone knows James Harden can score it’s no surprise, but what is really interesting, is he hasn’t played awful defense. His defense can be rated at decent or sub-par, but in the past it has just been atrocious. He has been doing everything for this Rockets team and they haven’t had their Hall of Fame point guard most of the year. Once CP3 returns I don’t see a significant drop in his hot streak at all.
Honorable Mentions: LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo
Rookie of the Year: Ben Simmons
The 6’10 point guard is everything we wanted him to be coming out of college. He has the mentality of a scoring guard and has the body of an athletic big so there’s no telling how far this man will go in his career. This season Ben is averaging 18 PPG, 7.1 APG, and 9.4 RPG. Ben Simmons and his teammate, Joel Embiid, have brought the Philadelphia organization back to life with their stunning play. It would be no surprise to see Ben Simmons walk away with the ROTY trophy with no argument.
Honorable Mentions: Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum, Lauri Markkanen
Defensive Player of the Year: Hassan Whiteside
Most people won’t agree with this pick simply because it is out of the ordinary. Most people expected it to be Draymond Green, Rudy Gobert, or Kawhi Leonard this season. Kawhi Leonard hasn’t played one game so far, and Rudy Gobert has also been injured. Draymond Green has just under-performed in my opinion, which made me dive deep into the statistics and pull out Hassan Whiteside from the group. This choice was actually pretty tough, seeing that Andre Drummond and DeAndre Jordan are having pretty good defensive years.
Hassan is having his best defensive year so far with a defensive rating of 99.3. DeAndre Jordan on the other hand, is at a lackluster 109.3 rating(Statistics from NBA.com). Hassan Whiteside makes his presence known when he is in the game by locking down the paint and sending back as many shots as he can. He is averaging 1.6 blocks per game, which is not bad at all, but the eye test and the advanced analytics is what made me put Hassan Whiteside over everyone else in the league.
Honorable Mentions: Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Andre Drummond
Most Improved Player: Kristaps Porzingis
To me, this was a toss-up between Kristaps and Giannis really, they are both amazing players who got even more amazing this season. But I gave the award to Kristaps mostly because of the start he has been off to, and how much worse the Knicks would be without Kristaps there. The Knicks without Kristaps would be a lot worse than the Bucks without Giannis in my opinion. Kristaps went from averaging around 18 points, to 26 points. That’s crazy considering he is only 22 years old! Giannis won this award last year, but he has gotten even better this year and turned into an MVP caliber player. Kristaps so far this season has scored more per game, gotten more blocks per game, and turned the ball over less per game. He is continuing on the path to become one of the greatest big men of all time.
Honorable Mentions: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Tyreke Evans, Victor Oladipo
6th Man of the Year: Eric Gordon
A huge part of the Rockets success this year has come off of the 3 ball, and Eric Gordon is one of the best 3 point shooters in the league. He comes in with the second unit after James Harden finishes his job, and does his own work. He’s averaging close to 20 points a game off the bench. His career was revived after leaving New Orleans for Houston. He was less injury prone, made his shots, and helped his team win. Something he couldn’t do in New Orleans. It’s hard to choose anyone but Eric Gordon for this award.
Honorable Mentions: Tyreke Evans, Lou Williams, Andre Iguodala