The NBA award winners will finally be announced tonight, weeks after the NBA season ended. We will find out the winners to awards such as the Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, Most Improved Player, Sixth Man of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and Most Valuable Player. Here I will give my predictions to who I believe will win each award.
Rookie of the Year:
This is an easy one: Luka Doncic. Luka Doncic took the NBA by storm when he made his debut last season. Doncic played for Real Madrid for three years before coming over to the NBA. He was the MVP during his final year playing overseas and should win Rookie of the Year in his first year in the NBA.
Luka finished his first NBA season with averages of 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 6 assists per game. He was dominant on both ends of the floor and found himself making clutch play after clutch play for the Mavericks whenever they needed it.
Trae Young had a fantastic rookie season, but Luka was great all year long. He put up these numbers consistently throughout the season, and Trae didn’t start to heat up until the second half of the year. Both these guys have a bright future ahead of them, but this year I have to give the award to Luka (who I believe will be a top NBA player in just a few years).
Coach of the Year:
To me, this is another easy one; I’m going with Mike Budenhozer of the Milwaukee Bucks. Doc Rivers is always great, and Mike Malone did fantastic things in Denver this past season, but Mike Budenholzer deserves this award the most.
Budenholzer helped Milwaukee reach the 60-win mark this season, their highest win total since 1981, and the best record in the league in his first year as the Bucks’ head coach. Budenholzer helped bring the Bucks from a 44-win team to a 60-win team and helped maximize the potential of players such as the MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo and 50/40/90 player Malcolm Brogdon.
Winning this award is fitting for Mike Budenholzer. This would be his second time winning Coach of the Year honors. The last time he won the award was in 2014-2015 while coaching the Atlanta Hawks to a 60-22 record, the best record in the Eastern Conference.
Most Improved Player:
Pascal Siakam deserves to win this award the most. I understand why a lot of people would choose D’Angelo Russell over Siakam here, but Siakam had more of a jump from last year and made a significant impact on a championship team. I’m not trying to tie the NBA Finals into this because it’s meant to be based on the regular season, but Siakam was one of the best players on an eventual championship team.
He brought his scoring averages up from 7.3 PPG to 16.9 PPG, brought his rebounds up from 4.5 RPG to 6.9 RPG, and also drastically improved his shooting stats. Last season he shot 51% from the field and 22% from three, and this season he shot 55% from the field and 37% from three. Siakam solidified himself as a scoring threat and a dominant wing player. At 25 years of age, Siakam still has his best years ahead of him.
Sixth Man of the Year:
Is it time that we start considering Lou Williams as one of the best sixth men in NBA History? He’s already won this award twice and should win it again tonight. Lou Will averaged 20 points and 5 assists per game off the bench. He was one of the key pieces to an 8th seeded Clippers team who took a healthy Golden State Warriors to six games in the playoffs.
Lou Williams is the definition of a bucket and should be considered one of the best scorers in the entire league. He plays his role so well, and that’s what made the Clippers so great this past year. Williams allowed players like Pat Beverley and rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to start over him while he ran the bench. He is more than deserving of this award, and this may not be the last time he receives it.
Defensive Player of the Year:
This award is a toss-up and can go to any of the players that are nominated for this award. The reason why I’m giving Giannis Antetokounmpo this award is that I don’t believe he will win MVP, but he deserves to walk away with an award tonight.
Giannis can guard any position 1-5, was one of the best defensive rebounders in the league and averaged 1.3 steals and 1.5 blocks per game. Giannis was the best defender on the best defensive team in the NBA. The Bucks had the best defensive rating in the NBA. He led the league in defensive win shares and ranked 12th among NBA players in defensive real plus-minus. Paul George and Rudy Robert can make their cases, but this year I got to give the award to the Greek Freak.
Most Valuable Player:
Here’s where we will have some disagreements. There are a lot of James Harden supporters out there, but there may be even more Giannis Antetokounmpo supporters out there. Well, sorry Bucks’ fans, because this year I’m giving the MVP to James Harden.
I am not taking anything away from Giannis here, it’s just that Giannis had more help and talent on his team compared to James Harden. They had, in my eyes, the coach of the year, All-Star Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon who averaged 50/40/90, Brook Lopez who literally turned into a sharpshooter overnight, and key pieces such as Eric Bledsoe and Nikola Mirotic.
James Harden has Chris Paul (who missed 24 games), Eric Gordon, Clint Capela, and PJ Tucker. James Harden had to work harder for his team to have been as successful as it was. They finished the season 53-29 but started the season horribly with a 14-14 record.
The Rockets had the 2nd best offensive rating in the league, mainly because of James Harden. Averaging 36 points, 7 assists, and 7 rebounds per game, James Harden was a man on a mission this year. He was the best player in the NBA and was responsible for some of the biggest highlights during the season. His streak of 32 straight games of 30+ points can’t go unnoticed. He scored 40+ points 28 times this season, scored 50+ nine times, and scored 61 twice. His season was undeniably one of the best scoring seasons we’ve ever seen, and that’s why he deserves this award.
Photo: Stacy Revere, Getty Images