Early 2017 NBA Awards Predictions

Photo Credit: www.outkickthecoverage.com

Click HERE for updated NBA awards predictions for the 2016-2017 season!

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

CLE LeBron James, Small Forward, Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron James proved once again that, despite his inferior 3-point shooting to Golden State Warriors’ point guard Stephen Curry, he is the best player in the world. Now with Curry, the 2-time defending NBA MVP, having to share the spotlight with not only stars Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, but superstar and #3 all-time points per game scorer Kevin Durant, he may see a minor but significant decrease in his statistics, and LeBron should be able to reclaim his crown as the league MVP for the first time since 2013, as he can carry the Cavaliers on his back game in and game out and will be riding on a lot of momentum from this year’s NBA Finals.

Rounding out the top 5: 

2. GS Stephen Curry, Point Guard, Golden State Warriors

3. OKC Russell Westbrook, Point Guard, Oklahoma City Thunder

4. HOU James Harden, Shooting Guard, Houston Rockets

5. GS Kevin Durant, Small Forward, Golden State Warriors

 

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

PHI (1) Ben Simmons, Small Forward, Philadelphia 76ers

Ben Simmons is an all-around solid player who can step right up and make an impact with the Philadelphia 76ers. In his lone season in college with LSU, Simmons was the only player in the nation to average at least 19 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 assists per game. Simmons lacks a good outside shot, but his strong finishes and inside shots already make it look like he will be a force to be reckoned with for many seasons in the NBA. Being one of the only rookies if not the only rookie who will be in the team’s starting five from game number 1, this says a lot about where Simmons is at skillset-wise and the impact he can make right away in the NBA for the 76ers who desperately need a franchise player.

Rounding out the top 5: 

2. NO Buddy Hield, Shooting Guard, New Orleans Pelicans

3. MIN Kris Dunn, Point Guard, Minnesota Timberwolves

4.  LAL Brandon Ingram, Small Forward, Los Angeles Lakers

5. CHI Denzel Valentine, Shooting Guard, Chicago Bulls

 

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

SA Kawhi Leonard, Small Forward, San Antonio Spurs

Leonard will enter this season as the 2-time defending winner of this award, and based on this youngster’s play that only seems to improve each season, he should be able to become the 2nd ever played to win this award for 3 consecutive seasons. Leonard is not a stat-sheet stuffer like many of the other players on this list, having only averaged an above average, but not spectacular, 6.8 rebounds per game, 1.0 block per game, and 1.8 steals per game, but just his presence and ability to guard all players taking all types of shots on all parts of the court makes him one of the league’s most fearsome defenders. Also, like I said, he’s young. At just 25 years old, Leonard can only improve, especially in the defensive-minded Spurs’ system, which has made him so good while his stats are not earth-shattering.

Rounding out the top 5: 

2. MIA Hassan Whiteside, Center, Miami Heat

3. MIN Karl-Anthony Towns, Center, Minnesota Timberwolves

4. GS Draymond Green, Power Forward, Golden State Warriors

5. LAC DeAndre Jordan, Center, Los Angeles Clippers

 

SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR

LACJamal Crawford, Shooting Guard, Los Angeles Clippers

As the only 3-time winner of this award in NBA history, Jamal Crawford is expected to be one of the most impactful players off of the bench in the NBA each season. Even at 36 years of age, Crawford continuously lives up to his great expectations. He is one of the league’s best free throw shooters and has a relatively strong 3-point shot for a 6th man. Throughout his entire 16-year NBA career, Crawford has never averaged under 10 points per game when he has averaged 21 or more minutes per game in a season, and he has averaged over 21 minutes per game in a season in 14 of his 16 seasons. I see no reason why Crawford will not continue to be a huge asset to the Clippers, even off of the bench, and why he cannot continue to be one of the league’s best 6th men.

Rounding out the top 5: 

2. HOUEric Gordon, Shooting Guard, Houston Rockets

3. GS Andre Iguodala, Small Forward, Golden State Warriors

4. TOR Jared Sullinger, Power Forward, Toronto Raptors

5. OKC Enes Kanter, Center, Oklahoma City Thunder

 

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER OF THE YEAR

DAL Harrison Barnes, Small Forward, Dallas Mavericks

Barnes is coming out of a system where he was not looked upon as one of the featured players of the team. In fact, if you inject Kevin Durant directly into the Golden State Warriors’ system with the same playing time and shot attempts as Barnes, Durant would have only averaged roughly 14 points per game (see here). Barnes averaged roughly 11 last season. Now, on a team that lacks a modern-day superstar in the Mavericks, Barnes will get his chance to step up into the limelight and show the world what he is capable of, and that will most likely be a lot more than what he showed us in Oakland for 4 seasons.

Rounding out the top 5: 

2. IND Myles Turner, Center, Indiana Pacers

3. LAL DeAngelo Russell, Point Guard, Los Angeles Lakers

4. DEN Emmanuel Mudiay, Point Guard, Denver Nuggets

5.OKC Steven Adams, Center, Oklahoma City Thunder

 

COACH OF THE YEAR

GS Steve Kerr, Head Coach, Golden State Warriors

Once again, Kerr will coach a team with a chance to break the all-time NBA wins record. With the addition of Kevin Durant this offseason, the Warriors look like they could be a better team this year than they have been for the past 2 season. If the Warriors can utilize Durant as well as their other stars Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green to their full potential, then Kerr should be able to walk away with this award for the 2nd consecutive season.

Rounding out the top 5: 

2. CLE Tyronn Lue, Head Coach, Cleveland Cavaliers

3. SA Gregg Popovich, Head Coach, San Antonio Spurs

4. MIN Tom Thibodeau, Head Coach, Minnesota Timberwolves

5. MEM David Fizdale, Head Coach, Memphis Grizzlies

 

-Asher Fair

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