Final NBA Awards Predictions

Photo Credit: newsday.com

 

The 2015-16 NBA season has been a very eventful one to say the least. With the regular season now in the rear-view mirror and just days to go before the playoffs begin, this is a better time than the last versions I made of this post to make educated predictions on who will win this year’s major awards in the NBA. Here are my predictions as of April 14th, 2016:

 

MVP: Stephen Curry

Why? He led the league by averaging 30.1 points per game and has led the Warriors to a 73-9 season, which breaks the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls (72-10) record for the best record in NBA history. He also became the 1st NBA player in history to knock down 400 3-pointers in a season (402). No other NBA player in history had ever even knocked down 300 prior to this season. Oh, and he frequently sits out fourth quarters when the Warriors are up big (which happens a lot), and yet he still puts up top-notch numbers. There’s a reason this is one of the shortest of the blurbs on this article. This should be a unanimous choice.

But you could make an argument for Russell Westbrook.

Why? The man has 18 triple-doubles, which is the most since the NBA/ABA merger. He passes the ball more than Curry does and tends to play better defense. He averages 23.5 points, 10.4 assists, and 7.8 rebounds per game.

Rounding Out the Top 5:

3. Kawhi Leonard

4. LeBron James

5. Kevin Durant

 

Most Improved Player of the Year: CJ McCollum

Why? The Blazers are a team that returned one starter from a team that went 51-31 a year ago. They were interchangeably power-ranked with the 76ers at 29 or 30 to start the year on most websites. Not only has McCollum helped Damian Lillard to get them back in this year’s playoffs with a 44-38 record, but he has stepped up in a big way, contributing 20.8 points, 4.3 assists, and 3.2 rebounds per game. This won’t be unanimous, but I think this is a good pick.

But you could make an argument for Stephen Curry.

Why? Huh? The MVP as the most improved player? It’s possible. He is averaging more than 6 points more this year than he was a year ago, his field goal percentage has gone up, he has nailed more than 100 more 3s, and his 3-point percentage has gone up. He has also led the Warriors to a 73-9 record, which is the best record in an NBA season for any team in NBA history. So what if he’s already the best player in the league? There’s always room for improvement, and that’s exactly what he’s shown us.

Rounding Out the Top 5:

3. Kemba Walker

4. Giannis Antetokounmpo

5. Jae Crowder

 

Defensive Player of the Year: Hassan Whiteside.

Why? Define defense. Good defense is not letting other teams score. The Heat have one of the NBA’s top defenses this year in terms of scoring (98.4 points allowed per game, 3rd in the East and 5th in the NBA), and much of that can be attributed to the fact that Hassan Whiteside led the league in blocks with 3.68 per game, almost 1.4 more blocks than 2nd best (DeAndre Jordan with 2.30). He is also grabbing an average of 11.8 boards per game, which is tied for 3rd best in the NBA. He is also contributed on the offensive side of the ball by averaging 14.2 points per game. On top of that, he also tallied 3 triple-doubles with blocks, something the NBA had not seen in a long time prior to him coming along. I’ll quote the man himself: “Ain’t nobody doin’ it with blocks.”

But you could make an argument for Andre Drummond.

Why? Andre Drummond is a monster on the glass. He averages 16.2 points, 14.8 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game. He has recorded 66 double-doubles this season. The next best is 54 for Russell Westbrook. Of those 66 double-doubles, 30 of them were with 15+ points AND 15+ rebounds. The key word there is AND and not OR. No other player even has half of those 30.

Rounding Out the Top 5:

3. Kawhi Leonard

4. Draymond Green

5. DeAndre Jordan

 

Rookie of the Year: Karl Anthony-Towns

Why? It is going to come down to Towns and Kristaps Porzingis.  The reason it goes to Towns is because, well, let’s be honest. No one thought Porzingis was going to succeed the way he did, so much of the Rookie of the Year talk focused on him is purely on hype. Towns on the other hand was supposed to succeed, just not as much as he has. He has averaged 18.3 points and 10.5 rebounds, which are both higher than Porzingis’ stats in those respective categories, and has 1.7 blocks, which is only 0.2 shy of Porzingis’ 1.9. Towns is 1 of only 9 players this season to have averaged a double-double this season, and is the only rookie to have done so this season. Also, Towns’ player efficiency rating is almost 5 points higher than Porzingis. All of this combined should seal the deal and give Towns the award.

But you could make an argument for Kristaps Porzingis.

Why? Well, given that I just basically stated why he was undeserving of the award, I really don’t know. But he has been pretty impressive, averaging 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game after being booed at the NBA draft when the Knicks selected him 4th overall. He has exceeded his expectations in a way that no other rookie quite has this season, and that is why I think he will at least be considered.

Rounding Out the Top 5:

3. Jahlil Okafor

4. Devin Booker

5. Nikola Jokic

 

Sixth Man of the Year: Victor Oladipo

Why? Oladipo is not the ordinary sixth man, as he averages 16.0 points per game, which is 2nd best on the team, 3.9 assists per game, which is 3rd best on the team, and 4.8 rebounds per game, 5th best on the team, off the bench. He is also the team’s leader in steals with an average of 1.61 per game, which is almost 0.4 steals per game higher than the Magic’s next best player. He provides a spark to the Orlando Magic when he is in the lineup. His season highs are 45 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists, and he has scored 37 points or higher twice this season. He is not your typical sixth man, and although the Magic are not going to make a postseason run, he is a major reason they were even in the discussion for the majority of this season.

But you could make an argument for Will Barton.

Why? Barton was 2nd in scoring for the Denver Nuggets with 14.4 points per game, 3rd on the team with 5.8 rebounds, and tied for 4th on the team with 2.5 assists per game. He has been an asset that this Nuggets team could not have done without this year, and although they are not going to make this year’s playoffs, they would be a lot farther down the Western Conference standings if Barton would not have played the way he did all year off of the bench.

Rounding Out the Top 5:

3. Jamal Crawford

4. Andre Iguodala

5. Evan Turner

 

Coach of the Year: Steve Kerr

Why? This was a tough one. You can easily give it to Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton for propelling the team to the best x-0 start in NBA history with 24 wins. However, I think it all comes down to pressure. Obviously at 24-0, there is a lot of pressure not to lose, but in reality, there was never a chance they were going 82-0. Thus, there was more pressure on the team later in the year to break the all-time wins record set by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls because it was actually doable, and I think Steve Kerr did a great job game in and game out preparing that team so that they didn’t trip up and lose focus on that goal. In the end, they ended up breaking the 72-10 record set by the 1995-96 Bulls with a 73-9 record. Another interesting thing to point out here is the fact that when the Warriors fell to 62-7, that was the first time ALL SEASON that the Warriors winning percentage was under 90%. It took 69 out of 82 games to finally sink the Warriors under the 9/10 mark. Even the 1995-96 Bulls did not go nearly as far as the Warriors did with that outstanding accomplishment. Kerr also deserves this award because he is coaching a team that is battle-tested and championship ready, and the reason that this is the case is because of the amazing 67-15 season they had a year ago with Kerr taking over that program and turning it into one of the greatest NBA championship teams of all time.

But you could make an argument for Gregg Popovich.

Why? Without as much media attention (that the Spurs would have gotten any year other than this one because the Warriors have a better record and are doing historic things as well), Popovich silently led the Spurs to a franchise record 67-win season. He is a master at mind games and knows when to sit players not only to rest them, but to mess with the other team’s knowledge of what they think they’re getting when they play against San Antonio when it will matter the most. Not only that, but the Spurs went 40-1 at home this year, tying the 1985-86 Boston Celtics all-time record for home wins in a season. Add that to all the history made by this underhyped Spurs team.

Rounding Out the Top 5:

3. Dwane Casey

4. Terry Stotts

5t. Brad Stevens

5t. Steve Clifford

 

-Asher Fair

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