With the NBA All-Star weekend finally here, it’s time to recap the season so far.
The competition is the best it’s ever been. We are starting to see the future of the NBA with all the young talent rising to stardom.
Last year, we witnessed the results of “The Process” in Philadelphia (Joel Embiid) and how it would play out this season with more young talent getting involved (Ben Simmons and T.J. McConnell).
New York Knicks’ Kristap Porzingis silenced the critics in another good year with a lot of drama around him.
Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo and Malcolm Brogdon helped their team make playoffs and won NBA awards last year. Antetokounmpo won the Most Improved Player Award, and Brogdon won the Rookie Of The Year Award.
Unfortunately, these awards will be handed out to other rising players in the league.
So let’s take a look at the list of league awards and see who will win the award at this point in the season.
Will we see a first-time winner for any of these categories or will it be the same familiar faces? Can there be a first-ever back-to-back Coach of the Year?
Let’s find out!
Kia NBA Most Valuable Player:
Winner: James Harden, Rockets
Runner-up: Russell Westbrook, Thunder
There no surprise here! Westbrook is the reigning MVP and continues to put up numbers. However, his team this season is much better than last seasons with the addition of Carmelo Anthony and Paul George.
Harden has also added Chris Paul to his team and the Rockets are currently in first place in the West standings and have the best record in the NBA.
Remember my article: James Harden Just Sealed the MVP
That will explain everything you need to know about why Harden wins the season MVP.
Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year:
Winner: Paul George, Thunder
Runner-up: Kevin Durant, Warriors
Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard has started a new trend, a wing player being honored with the Defensive Player of the Year award. An award that has been dominated by the big men in the league has now been given to players who can do it all.
Though Leonard has been injured for most of the season, Paul George and Kevin Durant have risen to the top as elite defenders in the league.
There is no surprise that either player is on the list. George has always been known as an elite two-way player while playing for the Pacers. With the Thunder, he has been able to improve on his defense and is currently leading the league in steals per game (2.6), and deflections per game (5.1).
Kia Most Improved Player:
Winner: Victor Oladipo, Pacers
Runner-up: Kristap Porzingis, Knicks
Oladipo was traded for Paul George and like George his game has improved as well. Oladipo is averaging career-highs in points (24.9), rebounds (5.5) and steals (1.8) while shooting 48.1 percentage from the field. He has also been named to his first All-Star game.
Porzingis has also benefited from the Carmelo Anthony trade as he leads his team in points per game (22.7) and blocks per game (2.4). He also got voted into his first All-Star game. Unfortunately, Porzingis suffered a season-ending ACL injury and was not able to participate in the All-Star weekend.
Kia NBA Sixth Man Award:
Winner: Jordan Clarkson, Lakers/Cavaliers
Runner-up: Lou Williams, Clippers
Before Jordan Clarkson was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Lakers president Magic Johnson challenged Clarkson to win the sixth man of the year. He took Johnson up on his challenge and is average a career high in points per game (15.5), rebounds (3.0), and assists (2.5).
The trade to Cleveland will only help Clarkson continue to add on to the stat line for the season, and LeBron James will be helping with that.
Clippers’ Lou Williams seems to always be in the mix for this honor. His stats this season are the best of his career. He’s playing more minutes per game (32.5) and scoring 23.2 points per game.
Though Williams scores more than Clarkson, Clarkson will still get the honors this season. Clarkson is a huge piece to the new-look Cavaliers this season and will raise his scoring average.
Kia NBA Rookie of the Year:
Winner: Donovon Mitchell, Jazz
Runner-up: Kyle Kuzma, Lakers
Both Mitchell and Kuzma have been surprised rookies this year. Sixers’ Ben Simmons was drafted in the 2016 Draft, but still got rookie of the year consideration.
Mitchell has shined for the Utah Jazz and will continue to shine with Rodney Hood now in Cleveland. For Kuzma, it’s the same situation. Larry Nance Jr. is in Cleveland as well, which allows Kuzma more minutes.
Mitchell leads all rookies in scoring with 19.6 points per game. He is also keeping the Jazz playoff hopes alive. He just won the Slam Dunk contest during All-Star weekend and will feed off that energy for the rest of the season.
Kuzma is top five in both points (15.7) and rebounds (5.9) amongst rookies. You will continue to see his numbers go up as the season wraps up, but the Lakers finish behind Mitchell and the Jazz.
NBA Coach of the Year:
Winner: Mike D’Antoni, Rockets
Runner-up: Brad Stevens, Celtics
Coach D’Antoni will be the first ever back-to-back winner of this award.
He would have coached the league’s Most Valuable Player to back to back division titles and will hang on to the top spot in the West. The Rockets have the best record in the NBA and D’Antoni deserves some credit.