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It's A Great Time To Argue About The NBA Awards, So Who Ya Got?

Houston Rockets v Milwaukee Bucks

So far this season I’ve touched on this topic twice before. The first when the NBA GM Survey came out, and then again about 2 months into the season when we had a decent sample size to reset and look at who was starting to separate themselves for each award. Well now that we have about 14 games left for the most part in the regular season and things are as close as ever for a number of the awards, I figured why not fire this up one more time and have a nice friendly internet debate. You know the rules, anyone who doesn’t choose the same ranking as you is a moron who hasn’t watched a second of the season and knows nothing about basketball. I’ve given this some thought over the last few days so these are my own personal rankings, chances are you may disagree and that’s fine. Tell me yours in the comments/on Twitter whatever, I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Ready to argue? Let’s go.

Defensive Player of The Year

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo

2. Paul George

3. Rudy Gobert

4. Kawhi Leonard

5. Myles Turner

I went back and forth between George and Giannis but the closer you look and their defensive metrics I feel like at this moment in time you have to give the edge to Giannis. I can’t remember a time someone won both the DPOY and the MVP which Giannis is in consideration for, but there’s no denying he’s been an absolute force on the defensive end. When you look at guys who have played at least 60 games Giannis leads the league in defensive win shares, leads the league in Drtg, has a higher BLK% than George, a slightly lower STL%, opponents shoot 6.7% worse than their average when being guarded by Giannis compared to just 2.7% worse when being guarded by George, and you look at why MIL has the #1 rated defense in the league and it’s largely because of Giannis’ production on that end.

I had these guys in the 3 and 4 spot two months in, but I think it’s safe to say at this point it’s between those two guys. Even with Gobert still being a force and Turner leading the league in blocks, the body of work from the first two guys is just too much in my opinion.

6th Man Of The Year

1. Lou Williams

2. Spencer Dinwiddie

3. Montrezl Harrell

4. Julius Randle

5. Terrance Ross

While there were some surprises for this spot earlier in the year, I don’t know how this award could go to any other player. Lou Williams has separated himself from the pack not just because he became the all time leading bench scorer, but he’s been such a huge part of the Clippers surprise season. They traded all their stars and somehow got better, and Lou Williams has a lot to do with that. He’s for sure a starter caliber player that has embraced this role, he’s carrying the torch from guys like Jamal Crawford who always seem to be in the mix for this award, and even though Spencer Dinwiddie is having a fantastic season for the Nets, let’s not over think this. It’s Lou’s award

Rookie Of The Year

1. Luka Doncic

2. Trae Young

3. DeAndre Ayton

4. Collin Sexton

5. Marvin Bagley III

Obviously Luka has had this award locked up for a while now, but in my opinion Trae Young has come on over the last few months and at least made it interesting. Their numbers really are closer than you think, with Luka’s 20.9/7.4/5.6 on 43/34% with 2.4 3PM compared to Young’s 18.3/3.5/7.8 with 41/33% splits and 1.9 3PM a night. They’ll forever be linked due to the draft day trade, but looking at that with everything we know now it really worked out for both sides. We’ve also seen Collin Sexton step his game up over the last 15 or so games after a rough start, and Bagley was playing well before he got hurt as well. This is one of those races where if it were any other year and Young had this type of season and Luka didn’t exist he would be the clear winner, but for me when you do something as a rookie that only one other player in NBA history has been able to do like Luka has, you should probably win this award.

Credit Young for turning things around though, he wasn’t even in my top 5 through the first 2 months.

Most Improved Player

1. Pascal Siakam

2. D’Angelo Russell

3. De’Aaron Fox

4. Zach LaVine

5. Paul George

I’m leaning this way for a couple reasons. Mostly because I believe Siakam is one of the biggest surprises of the season for a very good Raptors team. He’s a legit force and is having a breakout season pretty much across the board. He’s their wild card that in my opinion makes them so hard to beat. His versatility on both ends makes him a real weapon, and while he had shown flashes previously in TOR, it was nothing like what we’re seeing now. He was basically a long shot role player to now being a crucial starter for a Finals contender, and I feel like that’s the very definition of what this award should represent. Hit outside shooting has improved and part of that is probably TOR’s new system, but for a guy that’s probably the third or fourth option on his own team he still makes a crazy impact due to his efficiency.

That’s not to say Russell and Fox haven’t had fantastic seasons, but I look at SAC on the playoff bubble and a BKN team in the lower half of the seeding. Siakam is doing this on the second best team in the East, and he’s a huge reason why they’re in that position. That gives him the edge for me

Coach Of The Year

1. Mike Budenholzer

2. Mike Malone

3. Nick Nurse

4. Doc Rivers

5. Nate McMillan

I didn’t want to over complicate things. You come into a new team and get the most out of your players to the tune of the best record in the NBA, you’re my COY. Best point differential by a mile, a top 5 offense and defense, only one instance all year I think where the Bucks have lost back to back, I feel like this is where you have to go. Now other guys certainly make their case with Doc, Nate McMillan, and Mike Malone all having great seasons despite having to deal with losing key players, so if you wanted to put more weight on that I wouldn’t hate it. I just feel like when you’re the best team in the NBA pretty much wire to wire, and a lot of that has to do with the new system and coaching style, that should be rewarded.

MVP

1. James Harden

2. Giannis Antetokounmpo

3. Steph Curry

4. Paul George

5. Nikola Jokic

I saved the best for last because it’s probably the most controversial award. Giannis or Harden? I feel like it changes every day and it’s close as hell but here’s my reasoning. You look at what Harden has done, how he has carried this team from an 11-14 record to a potential top 3 seed in the brutal West, all while doing it with his best teammates out with injury, that’s just too impressive for me to ignore. It’s not just his scoring either, it’s the way he creates for others, the fact that his defense is MUCH better than people want to give him credit for, and the fact that he very well may be the best player in the NBA right now. Where it gets tough is obviously Giannis has the numbers to warrant the award, he has a slim lead over Harden in win shares, and he plays on the best team in the NBA.

I guess it just comes down to what this award means for you. Is it the best player on the best team? Is it the player who has the biggest impact on his team’s success? To me there’s no wrong answer it’s mostly a gut feeling. You take Harden off the Rockets and there’s no way they have this type of success with the injuries they had. You take Giannis off the Bucks and there’s still a lot of talent there. I get not wanted to penalize Giannis for having good teammates, but what we’ve seen from Harden this year has been historic, and you combine that with my ASU loyalty and at the moment he slightly edges Giannis out. Granted this could change in a week, but it’s how I feel right now.


So those are my picks as we stand on March 14th. I look forward to you telling me how wrong these are, and if you have different choices I’d love to hear em.