First, happy New Years to all! In what is bound to be an exciting year in the world of sports, the NBA remains prominent as just about half of the regular season has been played. With that, it seems like the best time to let the world know who is going to win the major regular season awards. Without further ado, let's get into it.
Coach of the Year: Gregg Popovich
Runner-up: Brad Stevens
Gregg Popovich could be the pick just about any year he's coached in the league, but this year holds as one of his best. Despite not having Kawhi Leonard for the first 26 games of the year, the Spurs held afloat. They give up the fewest points in the league, and that is without arguably the best defender in the entire association. They've held an offensive rating of 107.4 which is good for 15th in the league. Along with that, their pace, which currently ranks 29th, has greatly benefited their defensive rating as they are ranked third in that category. With all of these stats shining through, the attention has to go to Popovich. He has consistently lead the Spurs to levels of consistency that are unheard of, but this year has been different. With a roster that is assuredly lesser of others he's had, albeit this is without Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs are still the same old Spurs. Pop deserves some hardware for that.
Sixth Man of the Year: Dwyane Wade
Runner-up: Eric Gordon
Dwyane Wade did not fit in the starting lineup for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Nobody's debating that. But man, has he been great off the bench. While his stats won't jump off the page compared to Gordon or Iguodala, but he passes the eye test. Wade's playmaking, over 4 assists in less than 24 minutes per game, is huge for the Cavs when Lebron isn't there to make everything better. Cleveland has needed a playmaker like Wade for a couple years now to ensure Lebron doesn't have to play 46 minutes a game, and they got him. While this is a more surprising pick, voter fatigue and name recognition along with a solid year by Wade will get him this award in a close one.
Defensive Player of the Year: Draymond Green
Runner-up: Kawhi Leonard
Repeat! In the only back-to-back winner in these awards, Draymond Green is the undisputed best defensive player in basketball. His stats, while not exactly eye-popping, are solid enough to ensure that he takes home his second defensive player of the year award. His ability to get on the court and defend the best player on the other team every night cannot go unnoticed. He gets 1.6 steals a game and 1.4 blocks. While Kawhi's numbers are sure to be more exciting, his injury to start the season would seem to eliminate him from contention, thus leaving Draymond Green as the DPOY.
Most Improved Player: Devin Booker
Runner-up: Giannis Antetokounmpo
In what will be a stunner, Devin Booker is going to win Most Improved Player this year. He's the best player on a bad team, and those kinds of players don't get much attention unless you're scoring 70 points in Boston or 46 in Philadelphia. Before Booker's injury, he was tied for the most 30 point games in the league and was constantly dominating good defenders. Despite that, he's been labeled as a high volume scorer who can only do what he does because he puts up 25 shots a game. That's simply not true. He's posting career highs in points, assists, free throw percentage, 3-point percentage, field goal percentage and effective field goal percentage. He's doing this on a little over 18 shots a game. The narrative around Booker is wrong right now, but the voters know that. He will win the Most Improved Player award.
Rookie of the Year: Ben Simmons
Runner-up: Jayson Tatum
This one's easy. Ben Simmons is averaging 17 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists per game while shooting 51 percent from the field. He's playing better than some superstars in this league and he has shown no signs of stopping. Simply put; Ben Simmons is a monster. He's a 6'10" point guard that can handle, pass and score. There's not even a serious argument for any of the other rookies, but Tatum's insane three-point percentage is probably the closest thing you can find. Nonetheless, Ben Simmons is going to win Rookie of the Year.
Most Valuable Player: James Harden
Runner-up: Lebron James
James Harden is absolutely ridiculous. Never have I seen a player that makes it look so easy. He's the only guy in the league averaging over 30 points a game. He's got a field goal percentage of 45 percent, almost 40 percent from deep and an effective field goal percentage of 55. Along with that, he's top 5 in the league with 9 assists a game. Again, he's ridiculous. With the Rockets having the best record in the league, this decision seems to be a simple one. Even though Lebron is having arguably his best season ever, Harden's has been better. Harden scores more, shoots better and is on the better team. Easy.