Tomorrow is the 2017 NBA Awards Show! It’s in New York City, hosted by Drake with a performance from Nicki Minaj, and you can watch it all on TNT at 9 pm E.T. There will be 6 awards given to deserving players (one can certainly hope) and a coach. With the event less than 24 hours away, it seems appropriate to make some predictions on who will win each award. And AWAAAAAYYYY we go!…
Defensive Player of the Year
I feel like Leonard is mostly in this discussion merely because he won the last two NBA Defensive Player of the Year Awards. He averaged 0.7 blocks per game (BPG), and 1.8 steals per game (SPG) this season while playing in 74 of 82 games (G) this season. While those are impressive numbers for the NBA, they don’t quite stack up when compared to Green’s 1.4 BPG and 2 SPG playing in 76/82 G and Gobert’s 2.6 BPG and 0.6 SPG playing in 81/82 G. It’s a close call between Green and Gobert (and I wouldn’t be surprised to see either of those two names called tomorrow night), but I’m going with Gobert for two main reasons. The first reason is because I feel blocks are slightly more valuable than steals. Why? Blocks tend to be harder to forget as an offensive player. When you have the ball stolen from you, the simple answer is to be more careful with the ball and not get too fancy with dribbling or too careless with passing. When you have your shot blocked, it impacts your shooting motion because you feel like you need to do one or both of two things:
1) Shoot faster and/or
2) Shoot with a greater arc to get over defenders.
There are many players adept at changing their shots, but the majority of them still struggle to maintain their usual shooting percentage when they change their entire shooting motion. The second reason I’m picking Gobert over Green is that he played more games. I place a huge value on the players who stay injury and suspension free to be there for their teams as much as possible.
TheHaysWay Pick: Rudy Gobert, C, Utah Jazz
Most Improved Player
Two interesting things here:
1) All three of these guys don’t suit up for Team USA for the Olympics, they suit up for Greece, Serbia, and France, respectively.
2) Gobert is already making his second appearance as a finalist in the 2017 NBA Awards.
Due to number 2 there, I’m going to go ahead and remove Gobert from contention for this award because I already chalked up Defensive Player of the Year to his name. It’s another toss-up between two very talented and deserving players in Antetokounmpo and Jokic. I’m going with Antetokounmpo for 3 reasons:
1) The only statistical category that he has digressed in from last season is turnovers per game (TPG), where he averaged 0.3 more per game than he did last season. Everywhere else he has improved, including points per game (PPG) (+6), assists per game (APG) (+1.1), rebounds per game (RPG) (+1.1), SPG (+0.4), and BPG (+0.5). Jokic, on the other hand, averaged 1 more TPG this season as compared to last season, and he also digressed in SPG (-0.2) and fouls per game (FPG) (+0.3).
2) The “Greek Freak” has gone from impressive to a household name, while Jokic hasn’t quite reached household name status as of yet.
3) The Bucks made the playoffs and the Nuggets didn’t. I know the Western Conference is stronger than the Eastern Conference, so also consider this: The Greek Freak was the Bucks’ leader on offense and defense (he led the team in PPG, SPG, and BPG). If you look at those same three statistical categories for Jokic compared to the rest of the Nuggets, he finishes 2nd, T-2nd, and T-2nd, respectively. Now, I know statistics aren’t everything and I would personally argue that Jokic was still the Nuggets’ leader on defense, but I don’t believe there is any argument for Jokic being the Nuggets’ leader on offense. I saw Jokic play in person twice this season and, while I love his ability to hit threes as a center, I personally enjoyed watching offensive performances put on by the likes of Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried more because they were more explosive.
TheHaysWay Pick: Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF, Milwaukee Bucks
Coach of the Year
This is the easiest one thus far in my mind. I know Spoelstra did a great job with a very talent-less Heat team but frankly, they still missed the playoffs, so I can’t give him this award in good conscience. Popovich is a victim of his own talent: everyone is so used to seeing the Spurs in the playoffs that what he did this season wasn’t really special. D’Antoni made what many considered a risky move by allowing MVP finalist James Harden to play a lot of point guard for the Rockets this season. Did you notice it still says “MVP finalist” in front of James Harden’s name despite the change in role? That plus the Rockets solid playoff season will be plenty to give this award to D’Antoni.
TheHaysWay Pick: Mike D’Antoni, Houston Rockets
6th Man of the Year
So, this is another great example of why Mike D’Antoni deserves to win the Coach of the Year award: He managed to get two players on his team nominated for the 6th Man of the Year award. Granted, Lou Williams was with the Los Angeles Lakers for a significant chunk (the majority) of the year. Many are picking Eric Gordon to win this award. If it were up to me, he wouldn’t even be eligible. For me, a true 6th Man is a guy who is coming off the bench. Eric Gordon started 15/75 G that he played in this season. I just feel that doesn’t count. Not enough bench time. True bench players should start a MAXIMUM of 9 G. Williams started 1/81 G he played in and Iguodala started 0/76 G he played in. I’m going with Williams:
1) Williams played in more games (I stated previously that I value players who remain injury and suspension free to actually be there for their team as much as possible)
2) Williams averaged fewer minutes per game (MPG) than Iguodala, but still averaged around 7 more PPG. Defensively, Iguodala was a fraction better in both SPG and BPG, but not enough to negate the point differential.
Now, you’re probably thinking about the roles they filled for their teams: the Rockets needed more points than the Warriors and the Warriors needed more defense than the Rockets. Even so, Williams was more proficient at his role than Iguodala was at his. The Rockets traded for Williams for a reason, and I believe this was that reason.
TheHaysWay Pick: Lou Williams, SG, Houston Rockets
Rookie of the Year
Ok, Embiid is out because he was injured for most of the season. He only played in 31 G. Down to Brogdon (played in 75 G, started in 28 G) and Saric (played in 81 G, started in 36 G). Statistically, they were fairly similar with positions considered. Saric was better in RPG and BPG, Brogdon was better in APG and SPG. But, consider this: Saric ended up starring in a Philadelphia front court that was supposed to feature fellow rookies Embiid and Ben Simmons. He stepped up when those two were injured and he should be rewarded for it.
TheHaysWay Pick: Dario Saric, PF, Philadelphia 76ers
Most Valuable Player
Westbrook was the first player to average a triple-double in a season since Oscar Robertson did so in 1962–55 years ago! Westbrook also carried possibly the weakest roster in the NBA this season to the playoffs. If he does not win MVP, go stock up on water and food because the apocalypse is starting.
TheHaysWay Pick: Russell Westbrook, PG, Oklahoma City Thunder
A Couple More Things: Not NBA Awards Related
- For those of you who have been following me for a couple of years, you might be freaking out about the lack of Fantasy Football postings so far this year. I apologize if I caused alarm with that–with my new college schedule, my summer got off to a later start this year than it had with my high school schedule in the past. I promise, Fantasy Football rankings are in progress now and I hope to have them finished within the next couple of weeks.
- For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you might have seen the quarrel I got into a couple of weeks ago with some Fresno State/Derek Carr fans. I plan on posting a statement about that in the near future. Of course, considering my recent lack of posting consistency I request that you don’t hold me too strictly to the “near” part of near future.
That’s all for TheHaysWay today, make sure to leave a comment with your thoughts on NBA Awards and/or on whatever is on your mind, along with a much appreciated like. Feel free to give me respectful criticism, I appreciate the opportunity to make my blog better. If you are not yet a follower, become a follower to be a MVP for my blog. 🙂 Have a pleasant tomorrow!