We are officially at the NBA All-Star break, signaling the midway point of the season. With the awards race in full swing let’s, take a look at who would win if the season ended today. While multiple players this season could win awards, for the sake of this article only my pick will be written about along with two honorable mentions underneath. Without further ado, let’s dive in.
Coach Of The Year (COY)
Amongst many great coaches in the league this season, one had a unique impact on his team and that is Milwaukee Bucks head coach, Mike Budenholzer. The Bucks were a team on the rise last season however in the eyes of many they underachieved. Budenholzer took essentially the same team as last season (with the addition of Brook Lopez) and completely changed their style of play.
Last season the Bucks averaged 24.7 3PA per game, 23.2 APG, and 39 RPG. This season those same numbers are 37.4, 26.2, and 48.. The Bucks are also just 1 win away from tying last seasons win total and still have 30 games left to play. The Bucks also have the highest NETRTG this season at a whopping 9.8, the next highest is Toronto at 5.6
Coach Budenholzer clearly has this team firing on all cylinders and looking like a legitimate contender out East. They should finish with well over 50 wins and possibly even break 60. Mike Budenholzer has them playing a more modern brand of basketball and they’re winning. He deserves a majority of the credit for that.
HM: Michael Malone, Kenny Atkinson
Most Improved Player (MIP)
The Atlanta Hawks have, needless to say, been awful this season. John Collins, however, has not. The 2017 19th overall pick has been one of the few bright spots this season for the Hawks. His rookie campaign was by no means a bad one it just wasn’t something to write home about either. Collins is different this season and his numbers are up across the board.
For starters, his PPG is up from 10.5 to 19.4 on 6 more shots per game. His FG%, 3P%, FT%, RPG, and APG are all up as well. Though his blocks and steals are both down this season and his overall defense has taken a slight hit his offensive ability this season more than makes up for that.
Collins is looking much more like a stretch 4 this season and a more than capable modern day big man. His 6-10 frame and athleticism coupled with his improving shooting will make him a solid piece to build around along with Trae Young. Collins increase in points by 8.9 would tie Jerry Stackhouse for the 12th largest scoring increase in one season. That alone should keep Collins in the running for the MIP award.
HM: De’Aaron Fox, Pascal Siakam
Sixth Man Of The Year (6MOY)
Former MVP turned Sixth Man. Derrick Rose has had one of the greatest NBA stories in recent memory. From being the youngest MVP ever to nearly being out of the league due to injuries Rose has come back in a big way this year. Averaging his highest PPG since his 2011 he has been detrimental to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Averaging 18.2 PPG off of 47.7% from the field and 40.2% from three (a career high by a large margin) to go with his 4.8 APG Rose has been the Wolves 2nd best player this season on offense. At times he carries the load when Towns is struggling and he is by far the team’s best playmaker.
While he clearly isn’t back to his old self that shouldn’t stop NBA fans from acknowledging the great season he’s been having. Rose has earned his spot back amongst NBA stars and deserves the 6MOY award.
HM: Lou Williams, Dennis Schroeder
Rookie Of The Year (ROY)
Amongst all the new young talent one man has stood above the rest. That man is the 6’7 Slovenian, Luka Doncic. Luka is putting up 20.7 PPG, 5.6 APG, 7.2 RPG, and 1 SPG on 43% from the field and 34.8% from 3. The only rookies to put up 20 5 5 since 2000 are Tyreke Evans and LeBron James.
Luka is not only putting up the best numbers of this rookie class, but he’s also winning games. The Mavericks already have 26 wins this season compared to their 24 all of last season. The euro star is putting on a dazzling display of shooting (including step back threes) and dribbling every night.
While other rookies are putting up great stats it’s clear that Luka is separating himself from the pack and impacting his team, unlike any other rookie. Coming out of Europe being the most hyped overseas player in quite some time he’s living up to it. He’s already proving he not only belongs in the NBA but that he will be a star for years to come.
HM: DeAndre Ayton, Trae Young
Defensive Player Of The Year (DPOY)
Back in 2014 when George was making waves in the NBA he suffered a horrific leg injury and hasn’t looked the same since, until this season that is. While he should be heavily considered for MVP voting he should also be a front runner for the DPOY award.
George currently leads the league in SPG at 2.3. He ranks 2nd in DWS (defensive win shares) and third in DRTG (defensive rating) amongst players averaging 30+ MPG. With Andre Robertson’s constant injuries George is often times guarding the other teams best scorer at just about every position besides the 5 spot.
It’s tough to give this award to a wing player as they don’t tend to be the defensive anchor of their team but the Thunder are 3rd in defense as a team without, statistically, one of the league’s best defenders and that is in large part due to Paul George.
HM: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid
Most Valuable Player (MVP)
(emphasis on valuable)
I know I know. The free throws, the flops, no defense, blah blah blah. What James Harden is doing for this Rockets team amidst all their injuries is the very definition of valuable and he should win this award for the 2nd straight season.
Injuries to Chris Paul, Clint Capela, and to a lesser extent Eric Gordon left Harden as a one-man show, and he has put on quite the show. This season Harden is averaging 36.6 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 7.7 APG, 2.2 SPG, and has a TS% of 62.2 (10th amongst players averaging at least 30 MPG). To put in perspective Harden is 1st in points, 4th in rebounds (for guards), and 2nd in steals.
Obviously, there is the storyline of his 30+ streak but Harden has meant to so much more than just that to this team. After their shaky start, they are back in the hunt for a top 4 seed in the West. If you eliminate his 3’s he’s a top-20 scorer, top-15 without his 2’s and top-10 without free throws. Simply put he is one of the most balanced scorers of our time and his value to this injury-riddled Rockets team can’t be understated.
HM: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Paul George
There is still a lot of ball left to play this season and things can change. This season, like most before it, has been filled with interesting and exciting storylines. The second half of season signals the beginning of a playoff push for some teams and a push for awards by players, After the all-star break its time for us fans to sit back and watch it all unfold.
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