By: Kento Kato
With the NBA All-Star Weekend coming up, I’ve decided to take a look at the season so far and make my mid-season award predictions.
MVP: I don’t think there’s much of a question here. Averaging 29.8ppg, 6.6apg, and 5.3rpg with a PER of 32.16, Steph Curry has led the Warriors to a record-setting start. They on pace to break the 1995-96 Bulls record of 72-10, and while many are up in the air about if they will break it or not, Steph Curry will win the MVP regardless. The reining MVP has only gotten better while maintaining efficiency and has had an impact on the game nobody expected.
Defensive Player of the Year: This seems to be the year of the Warriors and I think that this will go to another member of the league’s best team. I see Draymond Green winning it after being in a close race with Kawhi Leonard for the award last year. I don’t see the voters overlooking how important his ability to switch and guard every position is to the Warriors success. It will be a close race with Hassan Whiteside averaging 3.9bpg so far, but I think Green gets rewarded being the anchor of one of the league’s best defense for two straight years.
Rookie of the Year: This is another award that seems to be a sure thing. Many had the race coming down to Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor. Both have put up impressive numbers with Kristaps Porzingis joining in on the race with his highlight put backs, effortless blocks and shooting prowess. But the nod will go to Karl-Anthony Towns, He is averaging 17.1ppg, 10.1rpg, and 1.8bpg, with a PER of 23.22, all while shooting 54% from the field and 37.5% from three. His combination of rebounding, shooting, and defense is something that the other two candidates have not been able to showcase on a consistent enough basis. Towns doesn’t slow down and only improves and take home the award.
Sixth Man of the Year: Will Barton has been one of the few bright spots for the Denver Nuggets. Barton, who they got for pretty much nothing, has put up averages of 15.5ppg, 2.4rpg, 6rpg, in only 28.5mpg. He isn’t a household name yet, especially since the Nuggets’ futility has gotten them very little nationally televised games. But Barton should continue to quietly put up solid numbers on a young team and take home the award.
Most Improved Player: Steph could get the award because he has improved his like no other reining MVP. That being said, the numbers point to a different western conference guard. C.J. McCollum. After averaging 5.3ppg and 6.8ppg respectively for his first two years, he is now up to 20.7ppg. And for the people saying it is just an uptick in minutes, his per 36 ppg have gone up from 15.7 to 21.3. Aside from the scoring improvement, he is also averaging 4.2apg, and 3rpg, while shooting 44% from the field, all of which are career highs. It is a hard award to pick sometimes because some players just get more minutes, and others improve, in this case, I think it is definitely both. And while one could argue that Steph has improved just as much, I see the voters picking C.J. for the huge improvements in his numbers
Coach of the Year: This was a hard one. While the Warriors record-setting start is eye-popping, their coaching situation with Luke Walton and Steve Kerr probably keeps either of them from winning. That being said, Gregg Popovich has somehow quietly led his Spurs to a 45-8 record while putting up the league’s best point differential on the way. Billy Donovan in his first year is now 39-14 after taking over for Scott Brooks. Terry Stotts has seen his Blazers team get to an unexpected 27-27 before the All-Star break and looks to make a playoff push with a young core. And its not just the western conference with some amazing coaching headlines. Dwane Casey of has coached the Raptors to a 35-17 record, good for 2nd place in the east. Steve Clifford coaches a team that many didn’t think would be in the playoffs, but if the season ended today, they would do just that. But my pick for the award is Brad Stevens. The Celtics made the playoffs last year as a 7th seed but not many saw them moving up in the standings this year over the Hawks ,Heat, and Bulls. They currently sit in third place with a record of 32-23. While it may be hard to keep that record, the numbers (basketball power index), which rank them one of the best teams in the league, would argue otherwise. It will be interesting to see where they will ultimately finish and to see how this young team will fare in the playoffs.
Mid-Season Award Predictions