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With the recent trade that sent small forward Corey Brewer and a 2017 first round NBA Draft pick to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for shooting guard Louis Williams, the Houston Rockets appear to be in a position to win three of the six major NBA awards once the end of the 2016-2017 season rolls around.
Of the six major NBA awards, which are the Most Valuable Player award, the Rookie of the Year award, the Defensive Player of the Year award, the Sixth Man of the Year award, the Most Improved Player of the Year award, and the Coach of the Year award, the Rockets currently have the frontrunners for three of them.
Rockets’ shooting guard James Harden is in a position to win this season’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. He has played in 58 games so far this season and is averaging 36.6 minutes per game, 29.2 points per game, 8.3 rebounds per game, 11.3 assists per game, 0.5 blocks per game, and 1.4 steals per game. He is shooting 44.0% from the field, 35.3% from 3-point range, and 85.2% from the free throw line. While Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, the only other solid MVP candidate at this point in the season, is better in the scoring and rebound departments and does more overall for his team, Harden does more to make his team a better team, and that is why he is in a position to win his first career MVP award this season.
Rockets’ shooting guard Eric Gordon was in a position to finish in 2nd place for this season’s Sixth Man of the Year award, and the only other true contender to win the award who was ahead of him was then-Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Louis Williams. Now with Williams having been traded to the Rockets, the Rockets have the only two legitimate Sixth Men of the Year award candidates on their roster.
Gordon has played in 52 games so far this season and is averaged 30.5 minutes per game, 17.2 points per game, 2.7 rebounds per game, 2.8 assists per game, 0.5 blocks per game, and 0.6 steals per game. He is shooting 41.8% from the field, 38.5% from 3-point range, and 83.8% from the free throw line. On the other hand, Williams has played in 58 games so far this season and averaged 24.2 minutes per game, 18.6 points per game, 2.3 rebounds per game, 3.2 assists per game, 0.2 blocks per game, and 1.1 steals per game. He is shooting 44.4% from the field, 38.6% from 3-point range, and 88.4% from the free throw line.
The voters may base their votes for the Sixth Man of the Year award purely on statistics and how well these players have played regardless of what team they played for and when, or they may factor in the recent trade that Williams was involved in. However, their decision is seemingly irrelevant in terms of what team that the player that wins the award will be playing for at the end of the season. Either way, this award is likely going to end up in the hands of a Rockets player, as no other potential candidates have been on the same level as Gordon and Williams have this season.
Rockets’ head coach Mike D’Antoni is in a position to win this season’s Coach of the Year award. In his first year as the head coach of this team, he has turned around a team that was 41-41 last season and made them a 40-18 team at the All-Star break this season. He has made them a force to be reckoned with in the Western Conference and in the entire NBA, and he stands along atop the list of candidates for this award. While Washington Wizards’ head coach Scott Brooks, Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder, or even Boston Celtics’ head coach Brad Stevens may be contenders to win this award, it is still D’Antoni’s to lose at this point in the season.
Not only does the team that sits 3rd in the Western Conference standings at 40-18 have a chance to become 2017 NBA champions; they have a chance to totally take over the NBA awards when they are given out towards the end of the season.