The 2017 NBA Awards will be announced on Monday, June 26th on TNT. By putting the awards after the seasons end, it helped build up the suspense. The biggest debate of this whole season was who should win the MVP award: James Harden or Russell Westbrook. Both players had outstanding seasons and both have a great case. Other awards include, Rookie of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, Coach of the Year, Most Improved Player and Defensive Player of the Year. Many debates will be settled on Monday, and here’s my take on who should win them.
MVP: Russell Westbrook over James Harden, Kawhi Leonard
This year’s MVP is one of the closest races ever. Harden definitely helped his case by defeating Westbrook’s Thunder in the playoffs. But overall Westbrook just had a better season. The main thing that stands out with Westbrook is the he averaged a TRIPLE DOUBLE. He averaged 31.6 PPG, 10.7 RPG, and 10.4 APG. Harden’ stats were almost as good with 29.1 PPG, 8.1 RPG, and 11.4 APG. But, Westbrook took a team with Enes Kanter, Steven Adams, and Victor Oladipo to the playoffs. Watching Westbrook this past season showed how dominant he was and how he was the most valuable player.
Rookie of the Year: Joel Embiid over Malcolm Brogdon, Dario Saric
Yes, I know Embiid only played 31 games this season. I also know that Malcolm Brogdon was on a playoff team as a second rounder. An argument people like to make is that if someone were to play 31 games would they win MVP? The answer is no, they wouldn’t. But this is different. Brogdon averaged 10 PPG and 4 APG. Embiid averaged 20 PPG and 8 RPG. Embiid was far and away the best rookie and he should win this award.
Sixth Man of the Year: Andre Iguodala over Eric Gordon, Lou Williams
This award could go to any of the three finalists. Two of these players are on the same team so they kind’ve canceled each other out. The main thing with Iguodala is that he was a key role player for the championship winning Warriors. All three of these players were huge veteran players off the bench which led to their team’s success. Iguodala averaged more assists and rebounds then the other two finalists. In the end, Iguodala was a key presence of a team that dominated throughout the playoffs.
Coach of the Year: Eric Spoelstra over Greg Popovich, Mike D’Antoni
Even though the Heat failed to make the playoffs, Spoelstra still brought a below average team all the way back from 14-30 to being tied for 8th at the last night of the regular season. The other two coaches were both successful, but both of them had superstars in Kawhi Leonard and James Harden. All in all, what Spoelstra did with his team was more impressive then what the other coaches did.
Most Improved Player: Giannis Antetokounmpo over Rudy Gobert, Nikola Jokic
This was a very hard decision between the Greek Freak and Nikola Jokic. Antetokounmpo averaged 6 more points per game this season then the season before. He also increased his 3 point % and free throw %. Jokic really came onto the scene this year but no one improved more then the Bucks new budding star.
Defensive Player of the Year: Rudy Gobert over Draymond Green, Kawhi Leonard
Gobert was a flat out beast for the Jazz this year, especially on the defensive side. He led the league in blocks and defensive win shares. He also came in 5th in defensive rebounds. He had the 5th best defensive rating this year. He was such an impact for the Jazz defensively and he was a big part of their success.