The NBA Award Show is the first of its kind, honoring all of the league’s top players and performances in one big event while handing out old awards that we are already accustomed to seeing, such as Most Valuable Player, Most Improved Player and new fan awards such as Dunk of the Year and plenty more.
Most Valuable Player
Prediction: Russell Westbrook
Russell is the scoring champion of the regular season and has done something only Oscar Robertson managed to do, averaging a triple-double for the entire regular season. He has also broken the record for most triple-doubles in the history of the league with 42.
Russell averaged 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.4 assists throughout the season and led his Thunder to an impressive sixth seed record of 47-35, while many people didn’t expect the Thunder to make the playoffs at the start of the regular season.
It could be argued that since Harden led the Rockets to more wins compared to Russell’s Thunder, that alone should put him ahead. While that’s true, if winning games was the top priority then Kawhi should have been the race’s favorite since he led the Spurs to a 6-win season, and according to the majority, he is certainly behind Russell and Harden in the race.
It has been a tight and exciting race between Westbrook and Harden, but in the end, Russell had the weakest supporting cast and still took them places. He has been by far the most valuable player and the biggest contributor to the team’s success.
Rookie Of the Year
Prediction: Joel Embiid
While Malcolm Brogdon has proven to be valuable for the Bucks in the season and Dario Saric has been playing great basketball for the 76ers in Embiid’s absence due to a knee injury, Joel has by far been the best rookie, averaging 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.5 blocks per game.
The only question raised was if he was eligible since he only played 31 games of the season and to everyone’s delight, he was.
Sixth Man Award
Prediction: Lou Williams
Andre Iguodala, 2015 Finals MVP, is one of the best 6th men out there; he can score the ball, defend and facilitate the offense.
Eric Gordon had a reigniting season for him, playing his role perfectly, while the drive and dish-out by Harden to Gordon on the perimeter has been a thing of beauty to watch. He made 246 threes, more than double the amount he scored last season.
Lou Williams however, had the best season out of all three, averaging 17.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists, upping his points, assists, rebounds averages and field goal percentage from the previous season. He has been a force to deal with coming off the bench and is most likely going to win 6th Man of the Year.
Most Improved Player
Prediction: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Nikola Jokic, also known as “The Joker” has been fantastic for the Denver Nuggets this past season, raising all his career averages and shooting percentages. He has also notched a couple of triple doubles.
Rudy Gobert and Giannis Antetokounmpo however, have been on a much higher level, improving drastically over the course of the season and made the All-NBA second team for the first times of their careers while also reaching the playoffs with their respective teams.
Even though both players made the All-NBA second team, Giannis has the slighter edge over Rudy to win MIP. His numbers were drastically improved this season. He was the team leader in points, assists, rebounds, steals and blocks as he has clearly become the face of the young Milwaukee Bucks franchise in the years to come, and the scary thing is that he will only get better.
Defensive Player of the Year
Prediction: Draymond Green
Defensive Player of the year award is perhaps the second tightest race so far this season behind the MVP award.
Kawhi led the Spurs to the best defensive rating in the league and the best defense in the postseason before getting injured. He averaged 1.8 steals per game and is the reigning back-to-back DPOY award winner.
Rudy Gobert led the league with 2.6 blocks per game. His Jazz were in the top-5 defensive ratings in the regular season and much of it was due to his defensive presence in the paint.
Draymond Green can guard all positions, 1-5. He has lead the NBA with 2.0 steals per game. He is third in ball deflections and fifth in contested shots in the league. Not to mention that the Golden State Warriors were tied 2nd best in defensive rating with him on the floor.
Coach of the Year
Prediction: Mike D’Antoni
Erik Spoelstra has had the best second half of a season in the league, coaching the Miami Heat, who went 30-11 after having an 11-30 record in the first half. The Heat were the best team in basketball for a two month stretch until their best player, Dion Waiters, was injured. Unfortunately, Spoelstra likely lost his chance at winning the award when Miami failed to make the playoffs.
Gregg Popovich is the best coach in the league right now and has been for the last 20 years. He has not missed the playoffs in that stretch and has had a winning record for all 20 seasons. He led his Spurs to the second-best record of 61 wins. However, giving the award to Gregg Popovich would be similar to handing down the MVP award to LeBron James every year.
Mike D’Antoni has made something new of the Rockets. A 0.500 team that barely made the playoffs last season has changed into a deadlier force to be dealt with in the West, having the third-best record in the NBA and adjusting James Harden to play point guard.
The Rockets under D’Antoni led the league in threes attempted and made, scoring an average of 114.4 points per game and running one of the most fire powered offenses the league has ever seen.
The NBA Award Show will take place in New York City on Monday, June 26, 2017 and will air on NBA on TNT.