The NBA awards are always filled with surprises and unexpected winners, dark horse candidates and heavily favored players. This year will likely be the same, so it’s time we count down our favorites for all the awards, it’s never too early to speculate.
Most Valuable Player
The MVP usually goes to a star that has the highest amount of chances. For instance, having a weak supporting cast gives a star more chances. Russell Westbrook had his MVP season, but he also had a weak supporting cast on the Oklahoma City Thunder. He was given most of the chances that the team had, and being a star, capitalized on those. However, fellow superstar Paul George also signed with the team, which will take away from Westbrook’s chances.
The same goes for James Harden, whose Houston Rockets signed star point guard Chris Paul. Pretty much every other MVP candidate has a supporting star this year. But not Kawhi Leonard. Leonard was in the running last year, being one of the three finalists for the award, and will only get better this year. He has no other stars on his team, the only possible exception being LaMarcus Aldridge, who is past his prime. Kawhi has everything it takes, and there is no way anyone else will be able to challenge him.
Second Place: LeBron James
Dark Horse Candidate: John Wall
Rookie of the Year
Rookie of the Year is always one of the toughest to pick a favorite for, because though we have seen what they can do on the collegiate level, whether they can develop their game to an NBA level is another question. However, this year we have a player who dominated on the college level, has had a year to learn from other players, and has had his game compared the great LeBron. That’s right, Ben Simmons.
Simmons has an electrifying game; dominating at everything he does, with shooting being the lone exception. He is a lockdown defender, drives and scores at will, and basically does everything well, like LeBron. Markelle Fultz is likely to be a bust and Joel Embiid will probably get hurt. Plus, Simmons will be handling the ball a lot as Fultz is adapting to an off-ball role. Thus, Simmons will get more chances, making him higher in the leaderboards for ROY.
Second Place: Lonzo Ball
Dark Horse Candidate: Jonathan Isaac
Most Improved Player
The Most Improved Player is always that player who has talent, but has never completely applied it and had a breakout season. This year, Julius Randle is going to have that breakout season. Randle has gotten absolutely jacked and put on lots of muscle with will make him a force in the post.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 31, 2017
He is also completely healthy, and if he can keep that up, he will be dangerous. He is also very fast, which will give him an advantage over the slower big men he will be facing. Plus, with a point guard like Lonzo Ball feeding him the rock and being paired up with a veteran like Brook Lopez to teach him more about the big man position, he will do much better than previous years.
Second Place: Otto Porter
Dark Horse Candidate: Buddy Hield
Sixth Man of the Year
Over the past years, Jamal Crawford has been the bar set for bench players, winning three Sixth Man of the Year awards, always providing that spark off the pine that puts his team ahead. This year will be no different. Now playing for the young Minnesota Timberwolves, he will be a great veteran leader to provide leadership and advice for all of the young players on the team.
NBA Free Agency: Jamal Crawford Signs With Minnesota Timberwolves https://t.co/XDlFdIp9v7
— Clips Nation (@ClipsNationSBN) July 10, 2017
Backing up the offensive machines Andrew Wiggins, Jeff Teague, and Jimmy Butler, he will keep the offense going against a defense that will be already tired. That is all that it will take to earn him another Sixth Man of the Year award.
Second Place: Robert Covington
Dark Horse Candidate: Derrick Rose
Defensive Player of the Year
Last year the three finalists for DPOY were Kawhi, Draymond Green, and Rudy Gobert. Draymond Green came out on top, but the same three will be the finalists this year as well. Only difference? Rudy Gobert will be the winner. He has great shot blocking ability and will have many chances to prove himself in a stacked Western Conference, offensively speaking. To be completely honest, it is really just a toss-up between the three players, but Gobert will end up on top.
Second Place: Draymond Green
Dark Horse Candidate: Avery Bradley
Coach of the Year
Two seasons ago the Washington Wizards were on the brink of collapse. Coach Randy Wittman was doing horribly, there was no chemistry, no starting production, no bench, nothing. Wittman was fired, and it seemed like a rebuild was the likely solution. Scott Brooks proved those thoughts wrong, immediately bringing the team back, leading them to a fourth seed and one of the better records in their history. They can only get better this year, with the Eastern Conference plummeting in quality, landing the third seed this year is a real possibility. They will be as consistent as ever, and Scott Brooks will land the Coach of the Year award.
Second Place: Brad Stevens
Dark Horse Candidate: Dwayne Casey
With all of that being said, the upcoming season and its awards is sure to be fun. There will surely be surprises, and we all cannot wait to see them happen.