This year’s regular season hasn’t even started, but truth to be told, we just can’t wait any longer. Even in this slow time of the year, we can’t take basketball out of our heads, especially considering how exciting this season is about to be.
Yeah, people are pretty much already handing out the Larry O’Brien Trophy to the Golden State Warriors and stating that we should just go ahead and skip this season, but even if they’re the most stacked team we’ve seen in ages, we wouldn’t be so sure about that.
Also, individual performances are another reason why we love this game so much, and even if rosters aren’t even final yet, we’re going to go ahead and let you know about our picks for this year’s awards.
Coach of the Year: Brad Stevens
How long are they going to keep snubbing Brad Stevens from the Coach of the Year conversation?. This guy has improved his team on a yearly basis, and with the Boston Celtics being pretty much a lock to hold onto the 1st seed in the Eastern Conference, he’s got to win it this year.
Stevens’ has built a strong identity for the Boston Celtics and features one of the toughest defenses in the entire NBA. Add Kyrie and Hayward into the mix, and you’ve got yourself a Championship contender.
Rookie of the Year: Deandre Ayton
I actually love Mo Bamba, but considering how much this league loves an offensive talent, we’ve got to go with DeAndre Ayton (unless they give it to Ben Simmons again). Ayton is a more NBA ready (offensive wise, at least) version of Karl-Anthony Towns and a physical beast that’s bound to dominate early on.
Just like Towns, he’s not much of a defender, even though he’s got the upside and physical tools to become a dominant rim protector. The Suns won’t compete for a playoff spot, but they’re going to be a much better team this year amid his arrival, also adding Bridges and Trevor Ariza.
6th Man of the Year: Dennis Schroder
Dennis Schroder has a lot to prove this season. He didn’t want to be a part of a rebuilding team as the Atlanta Hawks, but truth to be told, he hasn't proved that he was worthy of starting elsewhere anyways. So, now that he’s bound to back up Russell Westbrook, it’s time he finally steps up in the offensive end and leads their second unit, something they’ve lacked for years.
Schroder is a terrific passer and can even be a solid defender when he wants to (which is almost never). He’s not a great shooter but knows his sweet spots and can get a lot of buckets when he’s locked in, so, with the Thunder set to be a much better team this season, we’d expect him to take home the 6MOY.
Most Improved Player: Markelle Fultz
We’re going to go out on a limb here and say that Markelle Fultz is going to be this year’s Most Improved Player. Fultz was set to dominate the league right from scratch but a bizarre injury pretty much made him (literally) forget how to shoot, limiting his playing time up to the point where he was only able to make a handful of appearances.
Fultz was an elite bucket-getter and he actually recorded a triple-double on the lone game he started the prior campaign, so we know he’s got the upside to be a determinant factor in this league, especially with the Sixers improving so much on a yearly basis.
Defensive Player of the Year: Joel Embiid
Some people argued that Joel embiid was snubbed from this year’s Defensive Player of the Year award, as he played in way more games than Rudy Gobert and was as dominant guarding the perimeter and protecting the rim as you’d expect from a player of the likes of Kevin Garnett or something like that.
Embiid has made great strides between seasons and even if he may seem uncaring and self-centered, he’s actually a very hard working young man. He’s got the skill set to be a frontrunner in the MVP and DPOY conversation year in and year out, and his defensive versatility will grant him the DPOY award this year for sure.
Most Valuable Player: LeBron James
It’s been a while since LeBron James last won an MVP award, regardless of the fact that he hasn’t slowed down a single bit. Perhaps he's got us all used to watch him do the same thing over and over and take teams to the NBA Finals. Even so, we believe he’s the clear frontrunner to take back the award this year.
James is bound to win it again not only because of the fact that the Lakers are arguably the biggest market in the NBA, but also because he’s bound to end their playoff drought and help a rebuilding team take the next step towards contention. We don’t believe they’re going to be good enough to dethrone the Dubs, but thanks to James, they’re going to be scary as hell as they were used to be.