Image by Sue Ogrocki/AP
The NBA recently announced its regular season awards finalists, and looking at the finalists, a lot of these races can go either way. But there can only be one winner.
Here are my picks for the NBA awards.
1.) MVP-Nikola Jokic
The MVP award is a special award that many of the NBA’s greatest players have received. There are also times where players have received the award more than once. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a six-time MVP, Michael Jordan is a five-time MVP, LeBron James is a four-time MVP and many others have won at least twice.
This year’s MVP race is close, but my choice for MVP is Nikola Jokic.
Jokic averaged 24.5 points 11.8 rebounds and 9.8 assists. He shot 60 percent from the field, led the league in triple-doubles (with 29) and he helped the Denver Nuggets become the first seed of the West. Jokic has the chance to become the first player since Larry Bird to win three consecutive MVP awards, but he has competition. Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo have strong cases for MVP, but Jokic is arguably the most consistent. So, I edge the MVP to him.
2.) Defensive Player of the Year-Evan Mobley
Defense helps great teams become ever greater. And in some cases, there are certain players who can impact the game
The Defensive Player of the Year award is another good race, but Cleveland Cavaliers second year player Evan Mobley should be the one to take home this award.
Mobley led the NBA in contesting 3-pointers, he had a defensive rating of 108.1 this year, and he helped the Cavs become the No. 1 ranked defensive team this year. The young forward has the makings of being a two-way player, and winning Defensive Player of the Year would solidify that.
At the time of this article, the Defensive Player of the Year was not announced but may be announced later in the day.
3.) Most Improved Player-Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Players like Jimmy Butler and Giannis Antetokounmpo have won MIP and they have gone on to have great careers. This award is given to a player that excels and exceeds expectations. All three nominees are deserving, but I chose Shai-Gilgeous Alexander.
Gilgeous-Alexander had an amazing season. He put up great numbers and was one of the top scorers in the NBA this season. He averaged 31.4 points, 5.5 assists and shot over 50 percent from the field. Last season he averaged 24.5 points. Gilgeous-Alexander made a name for himself and solidified himself as one of the league’s top young players. And winning Most Improved Player would be the icing on the cake.
4.) Rookie of the Year- Paolo Banchero
Paolo Bachero was consistent all year. He joined players like Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and Luka Doncic as rookies to average at least 20 points, six rebounds and three assists. He won three Rookie of the Month awards and led all rookies in scoring. There were some solid performances from rookies this season, but Banchero led the way from the beginning.
5.) Sixth Man of the Year-Malcolm Brogdon
The starters of a team are key but in some cases, it is the sixth man that helps a team win. They come off the bench and give a much needed spark. This race could go either way, but I chose Malcolm Brogdon.
Brogdon averaged 14.9 points and 4.2 rebounds. He played in 67 games this season and did not start in any of them. Brogdon helped a strong Boston Celtics become even better, and will be a factor in the playoffs. And as a player who typically started in the past (during his time with the Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers, he adapted to his new role. Brogdon should take home Sixth Man of the Year.
6.) Clutch Player of the Year-De’Aaron Fox
De’Aaron Fox was an exciting player this season, and as Game 1 of the playoffs showed, he has no plans of stopping. He lives for the big moments and has the skills to carry his team to victory. Fox admittedly has some tough competition in Jimmy Butler and DeMar DeRozan but the young guard deserves to take home this award.
7.) Coach of the Year-Mike Brown
The Sacramento Kings were one of the best stories of the season. They made the playoffs for the first time since 2006, and managed to become the third seed of the Western Conference. The Kings made a complete turnaround and are no longer the lottery team they once were. Their head coach Mike Brown is a huge factor in that. The Kings are taking on the Warriors in the first round of the playoffs, and regardless of the result, Brown and his team are a team to watch out for.