In the sports world, the NBA awards have always felt a cut above. Being an MVP winner puts that player in a state of sports royalty, a suddenly universally respected athlete and person in general. With as massive of a global stage as the NBA has, every award has a certain weight to it that other sports awards bow down to.
And with the first annual NBA awards show on tonight (TNT at 9pm eastern for you troglodytes who don’t know), it’s only natural us folks at Sporting Daily throw something together for it, but only I was not-lazy enough to contribute. And what better to do than get my hot takes on every awards category winner. So that’s the name of the game today, fellow readers, complete predictions of everything. And yes, even the dumb time fillers like Most Stylish and Assist of the Year.
So let’s hop to it.
Eduardo Monk Jr: James Harden, Houston
If you so care to refer to my previous article on this subject, I go into much more depth than I will here. But basically, Harden’s team success is what puts him over Russell Westbrook. Both had statistically ludicrous numbers over the course of the season and the only thing that would win Russ the MVP is the fact he averaged a triple double.
However when you level out the playing field in terms of usage rating (because Russ had a 41.65 usage and Harden had 18% less at 34.23), then there is a massive difference everywhere in the numbers. So the only reason Westbrook would win is completely void when you consider how much he had the ball this season.
Not to mention, team success can break the tie in terms of MVP candidates. We’ve seen it before, the more worthy choice is passed up for a player on the better team. So in the end, Jimmy Harden has all this and more going for him.
Rookie of the Year
Eduardo Monk Jr: Malcolm Brogdon, Milwaukee
Sometimes the best ability is availability. And this is where Brogdon puts himself above the rising star Joel Embiid. Embiid played in 31 games and despite averaging 20 points and 7.8 rebounds, he missed well more than half of the entire season.
Brogdon, on the other hand, played in a strong 75 games while averaging a rock-solid 10.2 points and 4.2 assists. In a terrible year for rookies, a rock-solid season is more than enough to win the ROY. If Joel Embiid played at least 70 games, he would be unanimous. But Brogdon was there for his team day in and day out, putting up study numbers all season long. Rookie of the Year has to be Brogdon.
Defensive Player of the Year
Eduardo Monk Jr: Draymond Green, Golden State
In the numbers game, Dray runs away with this award. He was the steals champion with 2.0 per game while still blocking 1.4 shots and pulling in 7.9 rebounds. But he is also one of the most fiery players in the entire league and that translates mostly to the defensive side. He can steal, he can block, he can shut most anyone down and he is absolutely fired up the whole time he’s doing it.
Eduardo Monk Jr: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee
Giannis went from a solid 16 point per game player with insane length and an impossible name to leading his team in every statistical category on route to an All-Star appearance while still having an impossible name. He improved in every single statistical category except one (he had .3 more turnovers per game). He is now a full blown superstar after being only a decent player with potential a season ago. If that doesn’t say Most Improved, nothing does.
Sixth Man of the Year
Eduardo Monk Jr: Eric Gordon, Houston
Gordon chipped in 16.2 points and 2.7 assists per game while adding a top notch three point pop off the bench. His contributions despite being a bench player were starter worthy and with the other finalists not coming close to his levels of production, there’s little doubt Eric Gordon will win.
NBA Cares Community Assist of the Year
Eduardo Monk Jr: Zach Randolph, Memphis
Randolph spent the month of January *clears throat* served over 200 homeless people lunch, made a personal donation to the foundation to make warm clothes for them, donated 20,000 dollars to the MIFA Emergency Services Plus-1 program, provided 400 food baskets to needy families, gave out 200 tickets to students and faculty of schools, gave 200 other students a free shopping spree at Wal-Mart and gave 300 coats to elementary school children who needed them *deep breath*. I can’t think of anyone else doing this much for a community in a month this season.
Eduardo Monk Jr: Bob Myers, Golden State
So you held the championship gang of 2015, you made moves good enough to keep your team stable and clear up cap space to sign Kevin Durant. Good for you Bob Myers.
Eduardo Monk Jr: Mike Conley Jr, Memphis
He won it last year and he’s a super cool dude and I don’t know who else would win so congrats to Mike Conley everyone.
Best Playoff Moment
Eduardo Monk Jr: Isaiah Thomas (53 point game against Washington), Boston
Most points by a man under 6 foot in the playoffs since Iverson? Check. Overtime win in the Eastern Conference Semifinals? Check. Did it mere days after the tragic loss of your beloved sister? Check. There was something so special about this moment coming off the heels of his terrible shock of losing his sister. Easily the best playoff moment even though it wasn’t on the largest of stages.
Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award
Eduardo Monk Jr: Stephen Curry, Golden State
When a two time MVP meets up with another MVP, one would expect them to clash hard. But in all reality, Curry had a down year to allow the rest of his team to shine. On top of being a generally great human being. If that doesn’t reflect teammateness, I don’t know what does.
Coach of the Year
Eduardo Monk Jr: Gregg Popovich, San Antonio
Gregg Popovich is consistently the best coach in the entire NBA. He was able to coax a team of Kawhi Leonard surrounded by a host of aging veterans to a Western Conference Finals appearance where they gave Golden State fits pre-Leonard injury. Few coaches are capable of coaxing unknown young players into role players (Jonathan Simmons, Kyle Anderson) and can make an average team great by just being the coach and none were capable of that this season.
Eduardo Monk Jr: Victor Oladipo (against Atlanta) Oklahoma City
Not only did he baptize 3 time defensive player of the year Dwight Howard, he double pumped it right in his face. This kind of bounce out of the backcourt is electrifying and dunk of the year caliber.
Eduardo Monk Jr: Draymond Green/Stephen Curry to Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors
This was the first play of the game and it left no doubt how well Golden State had clicked at that point. It was Harlem Globetrotter level stuff in a professional basketball game. It doesn’t get much better than this.
Eduardo Monk Jr: Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City
Russell Westbrook has a fashion sense in his own league. Some of his clothes are a wonder trip just to look at. The Mountain Dew commercials seal the deal on this one.
Top Performance of the Year
Eduardo Monk Jr: Devin Booker’s 70 point game, Phoenix
For a 20 year old man to score 70 points in a professional basketball game was completely unheard of before Booker. 11 more points and he would’ve tied Kobe’s legendary 81 point game. Teams sometimes score 70 in a game. Did I mention he’s only 20?
Eduardo Monk Jr: Hassan Whiteside (against Toronto), Miami Heat
Hassan literally just grabbed the shot out of midair. Like. Just went up. And grabbed it. These people are trained to not get blocked. And he just went up. And grabbed it.
Game Winner of the Year
Eduardo Monk Jr: Kyrie Irving , Cleveland
There is a certain weight with this shot. A Finals rematch after one of the most dramatic series in NBA history and Kyrie hits the hardest fadeaway you’ll ever see over Klay Thompson. For him to hit another dagger against Golden State made this shot even more melodramatic.