The 2022 season is a few months away and there have already been some big news in free agency including the Lakers' acquisition of Russell Westbrook and the Heat's acquisition of Kyle Lowry. With the Milwaukee Bucks looking to repeat as champions and the Brooklyn Nets superteam returning, it is safe to say that all NBA fans cannot wait for the start of the new season,
But who will be the standout players next season? It is time to predict the preliminary award winners in all the major categories for the 2022 season. While some names might be expected, there might be some surprises.
Coach of the Year: Monty Williams
While Tom Thibodeau was an excellent choice for the Knicks last year because he led them to the playoffs for the first time since 2013, Monty Williams was a clear runner-up. Monty had a fantastic season as head coach by leading the Suns to the 2nd best record in the Western Conference.
This upcoming season, expect Monty Williams to go for the top seed in the West. At age 49, the coach has a very bright future and is already recognized as one of the best coaches in the league. Monty will likely have a strong team in 2022 led by Chris Paul and the ascending Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton.
Honorable Mention: Nate McMillan
Most Improved Player: Lonzo Ball
Other than Ben Simmons, no young player has undergone more criticism than Lonzo Ball. The hyped point guard was expected to be a star from his rookie season thanks to the marketing from his father, but he has not reached that level yet. Ball was under too much pressure in Los Angeles and did not have a good situation going with the Pelicans.
Finally, Ball can play for a big market without much expectation. The Bulls got a great player in free agency in DeMar DeRozan to pair with Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic, so Ball has space to be the playmaker and defender he is. Ball will have a Most Improved Player of the Year Award heading his way if he can help the Bulls capture one of the top-4 seeds in the Eastern Conference.
Honorable Mention: Christian Wood
6th Man of the Year: Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose had a sensational bounce-back season by averaging 14.9 PPG and 4.2 APG for the surprisingly talented Knicks. Rose could not battle Jordan Clarkson for 6th Man of the Year last season, but he will this upcoming season. A far cry from being an MVP, Rose still might be the most talented player coming off an NBA bench.
Averaging 19.4 PPG for the Knicks in the playoffs, Rose is getting more comfortable in his new role with his new team. He has great scoring and playmaking skills and will most likely put up the best numbers as a 6th man en route to his first major award since 2011.
Honorable Mention: Jordan Clarkson
Rookie of the Year: Jalen Green
Cade Cunningham is the best all-around rookie in the NBA Draft, but he will just miss out on the Rookie of the Year Award to offensive star Jalen Green. Green is a more explosive scorer than Cade, scoring 25 points and winning the game against the No. 1 pick in preseason.
For Jalen Green, he truly believed he should've gone No. 1 and will keep that in mind all season long. The Houston Rockets are in complete rebuild mode and with Green carrying the offense alongside budding star Christian Wood, he will have a better record and a better chance for Rookie of the Year.
Honorable Mention: Cade Cunningham
Defensive Player of the Year: Ben Simmons
Ben Simmons has apparently ghosted the Philadelphia 76ers this offseason and has heard all the criticisms about his game. Even his own head coach, Doc Rivers, was uncertain that Simmons would be the answer for them at the point guard spot. While the future was looking bright for Philadelphia, it is starting to get ugly.
But Simmons will be back, ready to prove himself as one of the best defensive players in the game. No matter what people say about his shooting ability, Simmons has a ton of raw talent. Falling second to Rudy Gobert last year hurt, but Simmons will be hell-bent on winning his first major award as a member of the 76ers or any other team.
Honorable Mention: Rudy Gobert
Most Valuable Player: Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant is long overdue for an MVP Award. He won his first and only MVP in the 2014 season and playing for the Golden State Warriors hurt his chances every year because of the amount of talent on his team. Durant has a lot of talent with him in Brooklyn, but Kyrie Irving and James Harden have missed plenty of games over the past few seasons and should miss some more this upcoming season.
Durant is fresh off an Olympics victory where he won his 3rd Gold medal and is considered the best player in the world right now. Durant will have a ton of competition from Slovenian superstar Luka Doncic, but the Mavericks will probably not be a great team this year while the Nets could finish with the No. 1 seed in the NBA.
Honorable Mention: Luka Doncic