After a long wait, we FINALLY learned what players won what awards for their performance during the regular season.
I personally did not even watch the show, and I think it’s held way too late for people to care who won what. I think the league should have it the Friday or Saturday before Game 2 of the NBA Finals (I originally thought Saturday, but normally there would be a Stanley Cup game that night). Otherwise, go back to the old format and announce the awards during the beginning of the postseason.
Anyway, I made some predictions on awards (as well as All-NBA, All-Defensive, and All-Rookie Teams) right after the regular season, and I’m going to compare how I did versus what the actual results ended up being.
Lets see how it went.
My Prediction: James Harden
Winner: Giannis Antetokounmpo
I thought Giannis had a tremendous season, and when I did my award predictions following the All-Star Break, he was my MVP, but I began to catch Harden fever at the end of the regular season. I thought he had one of the greatest offensive seasons in NBA history, and the way he carried his team back from out of the playoff picture early in the year was admirable to me. However, from beginning to end, Giannis dominated the league, and was well-deserving of this award (which could be the first of many).
Defensive Player of the Year
My Prediction: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Winner: Rudy Gobert
This one bothers me. You would have thought the league would have learned a lesson and realized players that can be played out of games are not worthy of this award, but here we are. Gobert is a great defender, but I believe there is too much hype for his game. Giannis wasn’t far off here, but we also need to remember there is a bias in this award for big men. Since 1989, a guard has only won this award once, and centers have won 23 times (forwards that have won in that time include Draymond Green, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Garnett, Ron Artest, and Dennis Rodman). In today’s NBA, I don’t think that’s a clear indicator of who the best defenders are in the league… but I don’t have a vote, so oh well.
Coach of the Year
My Prediction: Mike Budenholzer
Winner: Mike Budenholzer
This was an easy choice, and the voters agreed. Budenholzer took a team that hadn’t won more than 46 games in a season since 2000-2001 and led them to 60 wins during his first year on the job. A 16-win improvement from the year prior, and the roster made more improvements internally than anywhere else. Brook Lopez, George Hill, and Ersan İlyasova were solid additions, but not the same adding a max free agent. Nevertheless, Coach Bud built a better system for Giannis, and the team flourished during the season as a result. Coaching makes a difference.
Most Improved Player
My Prediction: Pascal Siakam
Winner: Pascal Siakam
This choice was a bit more challenging, as we saw improvements from players like D’Angelo Russell, Buddy Hield, and D’Aaron Fox, but from where Siakam was a season ago to this year, he made the biggest jump. Although the postseason is not taken into consideration for these awards, it served as further validation for how far the 2016 first round pick has come during his time in the league. Siakam has a bright future in the NBA, and if Kawhi Leonard stays in Toronto, they’ll contend for another title.
Rookie of the Year
My Prediction: Luka Doncic
Winner: Luka Doncic
This was the ultimately the easiest choice for me. Although Trae Young has a strong second half to his season, Doncic played at a high level from beginning to end. As I noted in my prediction piece, he was just the 5th rookie in league history to average 20/5/5, with the others being Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Tyreke Evans. With Kristaps Porzingas on the team now, and possibly Al Horford coming to town, Doncic could have some major help as he enters Year 2.
Sixth Man of the Year
My Prediction: Lou Williams
Winner: Lou Williams
This is Williams third time winning the award the past 5 seasons, and he looks to be getting better with age. Williams averaged 20 PPG and 5 APG for a second straight season, and his strong play helped the Clippers secure a playoff birth. He joins Jamal Crawford as the only other player to have won the award 3 times, and if he continues to play this well for the remainder of his career, he should continue to add to his trophy case.
For the the All-NBA, Defensive, and Rookie Teams, I’ll put who made it, and put a star (*) next to the player I did not pick for that spot.
All-NBA First Team
G: Steph Curry (6th All-NBA selection)
G: James Harden (6th All-NBA selection)
F: Paul George (5th All-NBA selection)
F: Giannis Antetokounmpo (3rd All-NBA selection)
C: Nikola Jokic (first All-NBA selection)
All-NBA Second Team
G: Kyrie Irving (2nd All-NBA selection)
G: Damian Lillard (4th All-NBA selection)
F: Kawhi Leonard (3rd All-NBA selection)
F: Kevin Durant (9th All-NBA selection)
C: Joel Embiid (2nd All-NBA selection)
All-NBA Third Team
G: Russell Westbrook (8th All-NBA selection)*
G: Kemba Walker (first All-NBA selection)
F: LeBron James (15th All-NBA selection)
F: Blake Griffin (5th All-NBA selection)
C: Rudy Gobert (2nd All-NBA selection)*
* I had Bradley Beal at the other guard position, and Nikola Vucevic over Rudy Gobert at center
All-Defensive First Team
G: Eric Bledsoe (first All-Defensive selection)*
G: Marcus Smart (first All-Defensive selection)
F: Paul George (4th All-Defensive Selection)
F: Giannis Antetokounmpo (2nd All-Defensive selection)
C: Rudy Gobert (3rd All-Defensive selection)
*I had Jrue Holiday here, and Eric Bledsoe on the All-Defensive Second Team
All-Defensive Second Team
G: Jure Holiday (2nd All-Defensive selection)*
G: Klay Thompson (first All-Defensive selection)*
F: Kawhi Leonard (5th All-Defensive selection)*
F: Draymond Green (5th All-Defensive selection)
C: Joel Embiid (2nd All-Defensive selection)*
*I had Eric Bledsoe, Danny Green, Pascal Siakam, and Myles Turner
All-Rookie First Team
Jaren Jackson Jr.*
Marvin Bagley III
* I had Shai Gilgeous-Alexander at the guard position because I had Doncic listed as a forward, and had him over Jaren Jackson Jr. (there are no positions for All-Rookie Teams)
All-Rookie Second Team
*I had Shai on the First Team, and had Alonzo Trier, Rodions Kurucs, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Wendell Carter Jr.
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