At the end of the NBA season, there is the NBA Awards Ceremony. This is when the NBA community comes together to honor individual players and their performances. This is the night when all the individual awards are handed out. The awards include the MVP, Most Improved Player, Rookie of the year, DPOY, Sixth Man, Coach of the Year, and Executive of the Year.
The races for the awards are all so close. The MVP race is competitive as always. The rookie class is strong. Young players are improving. And executives are making their teams better. Every award has a bunch of players that can win and anybody could win them. But I am here to predict who will take home those awards on NBA Awards night.
Rookie of the year: Lonzo Ball
This year’s rookie class is very talented. It is one of the best classes in recent history with names like Fultz, Simmons, Tatum, Jackson, and Ball just to name a few. With all of those big names, the race for Rookie of the Year is going to be very exciting. Lonzo Ball has the upper hand in the race. With Tatum playing behind better players, Fultz and Simmons splitting votes, and everyone else not being in Ball’s league, it is his race to lose.
The hype and excitement around Lonzo Ball are real. Nobody, since Lebron James entered the league, has had as much hype as Ball. He’s no stranger to the spotlight. Playing college ball at UCLA put him right in the middle of it. Now playing in LA, the spotlight is going nowhere. He has the personality and demeanor to handle the attention. He lets his game speak for him, which says a lot.
His basketball IQ is off the charts. He is one of the smartest players on the court at all times, putting him ahead of everyone else. He also landed in the perfect situation. Playing on the loaded Lakers roster with players like Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram, and Brook Lopez. He will make everybody better with his smart play and passing skills and when he has an open shot he will take it with his quirky jump shot that somehow goes in. Ball is ready for the NBA and primed for the Rookie of the year.
Runners Up: Markelle Fultz, Ben Simmons, Jason Tatum, Josh Jackson, Dennis Smith Jr.
Sleeper: Donovan Mitchell
Most Improved Player: Brandon Ingram
In the past, this award has typically gone to two types of players. One of these is a young player that becomes a star. For example Jimmy Butler, Paul George, and Kevin Love. The other winners have been average players that had a career year. Aaron Brooks, Ryan Anderson, and Boris Diaw are examples of this. This year’s winner won’t fall into either of those categories. Instead, it will be a player bouncing back from a disappointing rookie season.
After the awful rookie season Brandon Ingram had, any improvement would be welcomed. His rookie season was very disappointing in which he never lived up to the hype of being the next Kevin Durant. His final stat line looked like this: 28.8 minutes per game, 40.2% from the field, 9.4 ppg, 4 rebounds, and 2.1 assists. For as bad as that line is, there were glimpses of the player he could be. He showed off some skills that set him apart at Duke and made him the second overall pick in 2016. His scoring and playmaking ability are still there. But to reach the hype of being the next KD, he has to get stronger. He was too skinny to do damage in his first season. Now, with a whole offseason to gain muscle, he will be primed for that breakout season.
The arrival of Lonzo Ball is beneficial to Ingram improvement. He is a pass-first point guard that makes his teammates better. and will set up Ingram in spots where he can get easy buckets. Brace yourselves for Ingram to realize his potential and bring home the MIP award.
Runners Up: D’Angelo Russell, Kristaps Porziņģis, Myles Turner, Buddy Hield, Jusuf Nurkic
Sleeper: Rodney Hood
Sixth Man of the Year: Eric Gordon
The front-runner for the 2018 Sixth man is the man who won it a year ago. Eric Gordon is a lethal weapon off the bench. He scores in bunches and launches it up from three. With James Harden and Chris Paul running the point, he will be set up with easy buckets. Playing with them will make him even better. They both get open shots for their teammates which is good for Gordon. He doesn’t have to create his own shot, he just has to get open and shot.
Eric found his role coming off the bench after years of struggling with injuries. He’s always been a shot maker, but he’s always been injured. Coming off the bench saves his body from punishment, allowing him to play in more games. Last season he played in 75 games, the second most in his career while averaging 31 minutes per game. He averaged a respectable 16.6 ppg off the bench. He will increase that by playing with Paul or Harden. Another Sixth Man award will go to Eric Gordon this year.
Runners Up: Jeremy Lin, Jamal Crawford, Andre Iguodala, JR Smith, Lance Stevenson
Sleeper: Josh Richardson
Coach of the Year: Brad Stevens
Brad Stevens has been one of the top coaches in the league ever since he arrived in 2013. He has always maximized the talent on the team, making them better than they were before they got to Boston. Some examples are Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, and Evan Turner. He is also known as the best after-timeout play caller in the league. Ever since he has been in the league his teams have always been better than the sum of its parts. Every team has over exceeded expectations. That credit belongs to Brad Stevens.
The 2017-18 Boston Celtics are the most talented team that Brad Stevens has had so far. Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum are all at Stevens’s disposal. He is going to put the players in positions that maximize their talents. Brad Stevens will finally be recognized as one of the best coaches in the league after he takes home the Coach of the Year.
Runners Up: Tom Thibodeau, Steve Kerr, Erick Spoelstra, Greg Popovich, Tyronn Lue
Sleeper: Jason Kidd
Executive of the Year: Sam Presti
This year’s race is very tight for Executive of the Year. A lot of executives have made moves to improve their rosters. Danny Ainge brought in Gordon Hayward in free agency and traded for Kyrie Irving. In Minnesota, Tom Thibodeau traded for Jimmy Butler and signed Jeff Teague and Jamal Crawford. He also traded away Ricky Rubio for a future pick. Then there’s Daryl Morey in Houston who made the first big off-season splash by trading for Chris Paul. All three of these executives did a good job in improving their rosters, but none of them topped what Sam Presti did in Oklahoma City.
Sam Presti turned role players Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis, Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, and a 2018 second round pick into Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. That is two all-stars coming to OKC to join Russell Westbrook. Presti robbed both New York and Indiana for their superstars, giving up little compared to what he received.
Both trades are huge gambles though. Both Paul George and Carmelo Anthony can become free agents next summer. Presti was not scared and gambled on himself and his team. It paid off because he was able to resign Russell Westbrook to a five-year, $205 million contract extension. Presti won himself the Executive of the year award with those two moves this offseason.
Runners Up: Danny Ainge, Tom Thibodeau, Daryl Morey, Bob Myers,
Sleeper: Magic Johnson
Defensive Player of the Year: Draymond Green
The Defensive Player of the Year award is going to come down to three players this season Draymond Green, Kawhi Leonard, and Rudy Gobert. Both Gobert and Leonard are too important to their teams on offense, that their defense may slip up. That is why Draymond Green is going to be the Defensive Player of the Year. He doesn’t have the offensive burden that the other two have as KD, Steph Curry, and Klay Thompson lift that off of Green’s shoulders. He has more time to focus on playing lockdown defense. He is the heart and soul of the Warriors and is one of the most important players on their team. He “talks the talk,” and backs it up with his play. He plays defense emotionally and gives it his all. The Defensive Player of the Year will be in Draymond’s hands at the end of the season.
Runners Up: Rudy Gobert, Kawhi Leonard, Hassan Whiteside, Anthony Davis, Patrick Beverley
Sleeper: Marcus Smart
Most Valuable Player: Kyrie Irving
The 2017-18 NBA season is going to be the year of Kyrie Irving. After being traded from Cleveland to Boston, he is finally the face of the franchise. No longer is he playing second fiddle to Lebron James. He is the man in Boston and is ready to take the league by storm.
He has shown his talents while in Cleveland. We all know that he can score the ball like no one else in the league. He’s one of the best isolation scorers in the game. If you need a bucket, Kyrie will get it for you. We all know he has the clutch gene in him. If Cleveland needed a big shot late in the game, they would call upon Kyrie. Just go back one year to when Irving hit the biggest shot in Cleveland Cavaliers history on the biggest stage of them all: tThe series-clinching 3 point shot that won the Cavs their first NBA title. It doesn’t get bigger than that.
Along with scoring, he also has tremendous ball handling skills. He can break a defender down to get a shot, drive to the basket, or make a pass to a teammate. He puts on a show and breaks ankles. If you don’t think he plays defense, go watch the 2016 NBA finals and watch him guard Steph Curry when it mattered. All the tools are there for him to win MVP.
It also doesn’t hurt that Brad Stevens is his new coach. Stevens is known for getting the most out of his players. He made Isaiah Thomas an MVP candidate, while also making Jae Crowder a top-notch two-way player. Jordan Crawford went from a bench player to Player of the Week in 2013 under his Stevens’ watch. In every case, Stevens has put his players into situations that best utilizes their talents. That is scary because Kyrie Irving is the most talented player Stevens has ever gotten the opportunity to coach. The keys to the offense are in Kyrie Irving’s hands and he is going to drive the car to an MVP award.
Runners Ups: Russell Westbrook, Lebron James, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden, Kevin Durant
Sleeper: John Wall