The first round of the NBA playoffs is almost a wrap, so that means we’re just weeks away from finally knowing which team is going to be crowned as the new leader of the league, or if the Golden State Warriors are going to defend their crown.
Moreover, it also means that all ballots must be submitted by now, so it’s just a matter of time until the league finally unveils the winner of the regular season awards in what was one of the closest races in years.
Most awards could go either way this year, honestly, and truth to be told, we just can’t seem to make our mind over a guy or the other. Still, we’re going to let you know our predictions for this year’s awards:
Coach Of The Year - Mike Budenholzer
The Milwaukee Bucks were the best team in the NBA throughout the whole regular season. Mike Budenholzer managed to turn them from a borderline playoff team to a legit Championship contender.
They had their first 60+ win season since the 1972-73 season, he turned Brook Lopez into a legit threat from downtown, and their defense has been superb all year long. They have a true shot at making it to the Finals and give a hard time to any team in the world.
Honorable Mention: Mike Malone
Most Improved Player - Pascal Siakam
This one was pretty close, but we have to give the nod to Pascal Siakam over D’Angelo Russell for a couple of factors. On one hand, the Raptors were a much better team this season, his production nearly doubled, and he’s a much better defender as well.
Siakam is a five-position defender and even became a huge offensive factor as well. He went from averaging 7.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 0.4 three-pointers per game on 50/22/62 to 16.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.0 three-pointers per game on 54/36/78.
Honorable Mention: Buddy Hield
Sixth Man Man Of The Year - Lou Williams
Everybody thought and hoped Derrick Rose was going to wrap his hands around the 6th Man Of The Year award, but once again injuries took a toll on his game, while Lou Williams was as prolific as always.
Sweet Lou spent the whole season putting defenders on skates and leading the Clippers in scoring despite coming off the bench. His contributions were a major factor on them making it to the playoffs despite trading away Blake Griffin, and his averages of 20.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game should be more than enough to help him win his 3rd 6MOY award.
Honorable Mention: Derrick Rose
Defensive Player Of The Year - Paul George
There was a time of the season when Paul George was actually in the MVP conversation, as he was playing the best ball of his career in both ends of the hardwood. Sadly for him, he hasn’t been the same player since suffering a shoulder injury in February. Still, he was a beast on defense all year long.
George led the league in steals per game at 2.2, as well as total steals with 170. He was 5th in Defensive Win Shares, 3rd in steal percentage, and one of the best wing stoppers in the league, even if his team is bound for yet another first-round playoff exit.
Honorable Mention: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Rookie Of The Year - Luka Doncic
This one could also go either way, but Luka Doncic jumped to such an early lead, that he gets our vote to win this year’s Rookie of the Year award, as he was way more consistent than Trae Young, who was at his best following the All-Star Break.
Doncic did a little bit of everything and the Mavericks must be thrilled with the franchise player they landed in the Draft, especially if they convince Kristaps Porzingis to stay. Over his rookie season, he averaged 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.1 steals, and 2.3 three-pointers per game on 42/32/71 while playing over 32 minutes a night and missing just 10 games.
Honorable Mention: Trae Young
Most Valuable Player - Giannis Antetokounmpo
And finally, we have to give our vote to Giannis Antetokounmpo. Yes, Harden went on a historic run, yes he had one of the most impressive seasons we’ve ever seen, but Giannis was far more effective and was the best player on the best team in the NBA.
The Greek Freak really stepped up as the best player in the world this season. He was incredibly dominant in both ends of the world, and his averages of 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.5 blocks per game on 57% while leading the Bucks to 60 wins are more than enough to take home the award.
Honorable Mention: James Harden