The 1027 NBA Awards will finally be revealed tomorrow night. We’ve been waiting to find out who win will these awards for quite some time now. Before we find out who the winners of 2017 NBA season awards are, here are my predictions for who will win each award, along with a short explanation as to why I think each candidate will be named the winner.
Most Valuable Player
Candidates: James Harden (HOU), Russell Westbrook (OKC), and Kawhi Leonard (SA)
Prediction: Russell Westbrook
Why: The biggest reason for me picking Westbrook as MVP, is because of his record breaking 42 triple-doubles. In those 42 games, Oklahoma City had a record of 33-9. Their record when he didn’t have a triple-double, was 14-26. This shows how important Westbrook is to the Thunder. It shows how hard he had to work to keep his team relevant in the Western Conference. There is some historical data working against Westbrook, which you can read about in my post “The Case For and Against Each MVP Finalist,” but I think times have changed. There’s a first time for everything, and what Westbrook did will overcome NBA history.
Rookie of the Year
Candidates: Joel Embiid (PHI), Malcolm Brogdon (MIL), and Dario Saric (PHI)
Prediction: Malcolm Brogdon
Why: If Embiid had played the entire season, this pick would be a no brainer. He by far had the best stats among these three rookies, but I just can’t see him winning the award after only playing 31 games. His teammate, Dario Saric, may have had slightly better stats than Brogdon, but his team didn’t win. In my eyes, Brogdon deserves to win this award because of how he helped his team. Given an average of 26.4 minutes a game off the bench, Brogdon was a solid and reliable role player. He averaged 10.2 points, 2.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.1 steals. He shot 45.7% from the floor, and 40.4% from three. When you think about what you want from a role player, Brogdon is exactly that. He played a significant role in the Bucks rotation all year long, helping them make the playoffs.
Candidates: Eric Gordon (HOU), Lou Williams (HOU), and Andre Igoudala (GS)
Prediction: Eric Gordon
Why: If this award included the playoffs, Igoudala would run away with this. Since the award is for the regular season, I think Gordon wins it. Used to being a starter, Gordon took on his role as sixth man very well. Gordon was the most consistent of the three over the course of the regular season. He averaged 16.2 points per game, while shooting 40.6% from the floor and 37.2% from three. He knocked down an average of 3.3 three pointers per game, which was a huge reason for the Rockets success. His teammate Lou Williams averaged more points per game, but he only played 23 games for the Rockets. After being traded to the Rockets, his production dropped off a little bit. In my opinion, Gordon was most responsible for the success of his team among these three.
Coach of the Year
Candidates: Gregg Popovich (SA), Mike D’Antoni (HOU), and Erik Spoelstra (MIA)
Prediction: Mike D’Antoni
Why: The man responsible for moving James Harden to point guard deserves to win this award. I think coach of the year deserves to go to the coach who does the most to improve the team from the previous year. Gregg Popovich is a great coach, but his team is always among the top in the conference. D’Antoni improved his team by 14 wins from the year before. He’s the only one on this list who improved his team. Moving Harden to point guard resulted in the best season of his career. D’Antoni got Harden to change the way he played basketball, which resulted in more team success. Anytime you improve your team’s record and can help a star player be even better, you deserve to win coach of the year.
Most Improved Player
Candidates: Rudy Gobert (UTAH), Nikola Jokic (DEN), and Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL)
Prediction: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Why: Antetokounmpo went from a rising star to a superstar this year. He averaged 22.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.9 blocks. He increased his stats from last year by 6.0 points, 1.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.4 steals, and 0.5 blocks. He made his first All-Star game this year, and all indications are that he’s going to be an All-Star every year for a long time. Gobert and Jokic are still young players who have improved a lot also, but they’re not on the same level as Antetokounmpo. Antetokounmpo is the leader of the Bucks. It’s because of him that they’re going to be in the playoffs year after year. Going from rising star to superstar is an incredible jump, which is why he deserves to win this award.
Defensive Player of the Year
Candidates: Rudy Gobert (UTAH), Draymond Green (GS), and Kawhi Leonard (SA)
Prediction: Rudy Gobert
Why: This is probably the hardest pick for me to make. All three of these players are great defenders. Although he may not be the sexy pick for defensive player, I went with Rudy Gobert. His stats speak for themselves. He led the league in blocks with 2.6 per game. He was also fourth in total rebounds per game with 12.8. He was a true defensive game changer for the Utah Jazz this year. His defense was a key reason for their 51 wins, 11 more than the previous season.