The NBA season has hit about 30 games for most of the teams so far. That means that we are rapidly approaching the halfway mark of the season. As we have hit nearly 50% of the regular season games, it’s time to start considering who should win the six major awards at the end of the year.
Those awards include Coach of the Year, Most Improved Player, Sixth Man of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and Most Valuable Player. For each award, it’s a pretty close race all around. There is still plenty of time for another contender to take their spot at the top. For now, these are the top predictions for those awards.
Coach Of The Year - Monty Williams
Many believed that Williams should have won the award last season. The Suns finished as the No. 2 team in the Western Conference last season and then rode that momentum to the NBA Finals. The Suns didn’t do much in the offseason either outside of signing JaVale McGee and losing Torrey Craig. Other than that, the team kept pretty much the same core and players.
This year, the Suns are fighting the Warriors for the top seed in the Western Conference, but also the best record in the NBA. The Suns own a 25-5 record and are narrowly beating out Golden State for the No. 1 seed as we speak. As a team, the Suns own the third-best scoring offense and the fourth-best defense when it comes to points allowed. As a team, the Suns are also shooting a league-best 47.8% from the field. Williams is guiding this team to a better season than later
Honorable Mention: Steve Kerr
Most Improved Player - Miles Bridges
Bridges is hands down having the most improved season. As long as he stays healthy and plays out the rest of the year, he should win this award. Last year, Bridges averaged 12.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 2.2 assists. This year, Bridges is averaging 19.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.2 steals.
Bridges is shooting a less field-goal percentage, while his three-point shooting also took an eight percent dip. However, it’s evident that Bridges has changed his approach and attacking the rim more efficiently. He’s also playing 36.5 minutes per game, clearly taking advantage of the extra opportunities.
Honorable Mention: Ja Morant
Sixth Man Of The Year - Tyler Herro
For now, Herro is getting the nod, but that could change if he continues to get playing time in the starting rotation. In the 25 games played, Herro has made seven starts as a fill-in. His real bread and butter have been coming off the bench, where he leads all bench scorers with 19.9 points per game. As a whole, Herro is averaging over 20 points, but Herro’s 18 appearances coming off the bench has seen him average nearly that to go along with 5.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists.
Kelly Oubre Jr. and Montrezl Harrell have both played 10 or more games off the bench, so that could hurt Herro's chances in the future. The Heat could easily put Herro into the starting lineup down the line, but assuming that the rest of the cast can stay healthy, the team will leave Herro in his successful role.
Honorable Mention: Kelly Oubre Jr.
Rookie Of The Year - Evan Mobley
The Rookie of the Year race is shaping up to be very fun to watch in the second half of the season. For starters, Scottie Barnes and Cade Cunningham are tied for the most points per game with 15.6. Barnes is tied with Evan Mobley for the most rebounds per game with 8.3, while Josh Giddey is serving up a line of 10.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 6.2 assists per game.
In the end, Mobley gets the lead for now. Mobley is averaging 13.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks. Mobley is an integral part of a Cavaliers defense that nearly ranks the best in the league in points allowed. Currently, the team trails the Warriors by just 0.1 points per game. Mobley has inserted himself as a dominant defensive force in the middle but is contributing at a high rate on offense as well.
Honorable Mention: Scottie Barnes
Defensive Player Of The Year - Draymond Green
As previously mentioned, the Warriors own the best defensive team in the league, which has helped the team tie with the Jazz for the largest point differential in the league. This Warriors defense is shaping up with an improved Andrew Wiggins and will get better when Klay Thompson returns, but the true leader is Draymond Green.
Green is not a rim protector or a lockdown defender, but he ranks among the league leaders in steals, blocks, contested shots, loose balls recovered, and charges drawn. The Warriors have already improved their overall defensive rating through the first 30 games of the season in comparison to what it was in 72 games last year. Not to mention, he passes the eye test. Does this team feel like the dynasty Warriors from 2015-2019? In 2017, we saw Green win a DPOY and this feels very similar to that season.
Honorable Mention: Rudy Gobert
Most Valuable Player - Steph Curry
Kevin Durant continues to lead the league in scoring, but Curry is going to make it difficult for him to hold that honor as the season goes on. Curry currently ranks third with 27.1 points per game, narrowly trailing Trae Young’s 27.3 points per game for second place. Offensively, Curry is doing what he does best and that is hitting three-point shots more than anyone. Curry’s 5.3 three-pointers each is heavily ahead of second-place Buddy Hield’s 3.7.
It helps that the Warriors are 25-6, while the Nets are 21-9, so Curry has the record advantage. Not to mention, the Warriors are potentially the best offensive and defensive team in the league. If Curry goes on to win the MVP, he would tie Wilt Chamberlain for the largest gap between wins (6 years) in NBA history. Curry would also be the third-oldest MVP, trailing Karl Malone in 1999 and Michael Jordan in 1998.
Honorable Mention: Kevin Durant