Finally the regular season has come to an end and now that playoff time has come, it’s also the perfect moment to go ahead and make our picks on who may end up winning all the accolades the league awards at the end of the campaign.
Over the course of the year, we’ve seen some outstanding performances all season long by some players we always expect to succeed and stand out of the pack, but we’re definitely going to see some new names in this year’s ballots as well.
Today, we’re going to let you know who we believe should take home all of the awards of the season: the Most Improved Player, Coach of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, Rookie of the Year and obviously: the MVP.
Most Improved Player
Winner: Victor Oladipo
It’s pretty safe to say that the Indiana Pacers won the Paul George deal as they landed not just Domantas Sabonis, but also Victor Oladipo, a young man that put up a lot of work in the gym during the offseason in order to become as aggressive and effective as we’ve seen him all year long.
Oladipo led the Pacers to the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference and got his first All-Star nod this season after a slow start of his career. Also, he led the league in steals and made a huge impact in both ends of the floor, going from averages of 15.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.9 threes, 1.2 steals, and 0.3 blocks per game on 44% shooting to 23.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2.1 threes,2.4 steals and 0.8 blocks on 47% from the floor.
Runner-up: Clint Capela (12.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, 64% shooting 2016-17 / 13.9 points, 10.8 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, 65% on 2017-18)
Coach of the Year
Winner: Brett Brown
Ok, this one’s a tricky one, and for the first time in years, we’ve got at least 6 coaches worthy of the award in Brown, Casey, D’Antoni, Stotts, Snyder and Stevens, but Brett Brown gets our final vote for how drastically improved the Philadelphia 76ers were this season compared to the prior 3 or 4 campaigns, especially following the All-Star break.
Brett Brown led the Sixers to a 52-30 record with.634 winning percentage, a 30-11 record at home, 22-19 record on the road; but what makes this even more impressive is the fact that this one’s pretty much the same core that won just 10 games a couple of seasons ago. Philly wind up earning the 3rd seed in the East and entering the playoffs on the longest winning streak on franchise history, so we’re definitely high on the process.
Runner-Up: Dwane Casey (59-23 record, .720 winning percentage, 34-7 record at home, 25-16 record on the road)
Sixth Man of the Year
Winner: Lou Williams
Lou Williams is a perennial candidate to take home this award. He’s done it before and he’s likely to do it again this year after he came up huge for the Clippers when they needed someone to provide playmaking and scoring with most of their guards sidelined with injuries.
Over the year, Sweet Lou averaged 22.6 points, 2.5 assists, 5.3 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 2.4 three pointers, shooting splits of 45/35/88 with a 20.2 PER, a true shooting percentage of 57%, 6.7 win shares and a value over replacement of 2 on 32.4 minutes per game in 60 games off the bench for the Clippers.
Runner-Up: Eric Gordon (18 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 3.2 three-pointers, 0.6 steals, shooting splits: 42/35/80 on 31.2. minutes per game)
Defensive Player of the Year
Winner: Rudy Gobert
The Stifle Tower messed around and may finally end up winning his so desired Defensive Player of the Year award after he locked down the paint over the last passage of the season for the surging Utah Jazz, barely taking the award off of Joel Embiid’s hands who was the favorite to take it home all season long.
Rudy Gobert has become the league’s best defensive center, and this year he put DPOY worthy numbers with a 4.6 defensive plus-minus, 3.9 defensive win shares, a 99.5 defensive rating, 1 defensive rebound percentage of 27, 129 total blocks, 7.8 defensive rebounds, 0.8 steals, 2.3 blocks and just 2.7 personal fouls per game.
Runner-Up: Joel Embiid (8.7 defensive rebounds, 0.6 steals, 1.8 blocks, 3.3 personal fouls, 29.7 defensive rebound percentage, 3.8 defensive win shares, 547 defensive rebounds, 111 total blocks, 100.5 defensive rating, 2.5 defensive plus-minus)
Rookie of the Year
Winner: Ben Simmons
This one has to be the trickiest award this season and to be honest, it could go either way and we wouldn’t even be surprised if they decided to name both Simmons and Mitchell ROYs, but we’re slightly picking Simmons over Mitchell here because of his versatility and ability to impact several aspects of the game.
Simmons has been quite impressive over his first healthy season in the NBA, and he definitely has a strong case for the ROY award after putting Oscar Robertson-like kind of numbers with 15.8 points, 8.2 assists, 8.1 rebounds, 1.7 steals, 0.9 blocks, 3.4 turnovers on 54% from the floor with a VORP of 4.6, a 4.6 plus-minus, and a PER of 20 in 33.7 minutes a night, missing just one game this season.
Runner-Up: Donovan Mitchell (20.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.5 steals, 2.4 three pointers, shooting splits: 43/34/80, 2.7 turnovers, 33.4 minutes, 2.1 value over replacement, plus-minus 1.1, 16.7 PER)
Most Valuable Player
Winner: James Harden
If you asked us a couple of months who was going to win the MVP, we would’ve said Harden without any kind of hesitation, and even though the gap has narrowed a little bit over the last couple of months between him and LeBron, we’d still expect the Beard to finally take home the award after leading the Rockets to the best record in the NBA.
Harden is playing the best basketball of his career and has been the league’s runner-up for MVP in back-to-back seasons, but after putting incredible averages of 30.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 8.8 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.7 blocks, 3.7 triples, a VORP of 8.3 with a league-leading plus-minus of 10.9 and also a league-leading 29.8 PER with shooting splits of 44/36/85, we’d definitely give him our vote in the ballot.
Runner-Up: LeBron James (27.5 points, 9.1 assists, 8.6 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 0.9 blocks, 1.8 triples, shooting splits: 54/36/73, league-leading 8.9 VORP, 9.6 plus-minus, 28.6 PER, league-leading 3026 minutes)