Giving Out The Hardware A Little Early
After winning his second straight MVP award, the bullseye will be on Steph Curry’s back much like the bullseye that will be on his entire team after a very exciting summer that took place in the Bay Area.
So will LeBron James add yet another MVP trophy to his long list of accolades? Will Gregg Popovich reign supreme again and pick up another Coach of the Year award? And who will be the breakout stars of the 2016-17 season who will vie for the Most Improved Player award?
Most Improved Player: Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL)
For the sake of our sanity, lets call him the Greek Freak or just simply, Giannis. The 2013 first round pick has been a very interesting prospect since breaking into the league because of his size, his ability for his size and the fact that he was so long and was still growing.
Now at only 21-years of age, the 6’11’’ Giannis Antetokounmpo is ready to take over the Bucks starting point guard position full-time. Yes, a 6’11’’ point guard. Top that Magic Johnson!
At the conclusion of last season, the Bucks got the boost they were missing all year long when Giannis was plugged into the starting point guard role. That was when the Greek Freak took off and did not look back.
Coming off a season averaging 16.9/7.7/4.3, it is time for Giannis to enter his prime stage, which is bound to see superstardom. This is the year for Giannis to take another huge step forward. The Bucks will be a dark horse team entering the season and where the team goes will be determined by Antetokounmpo’s level of play.
Giannis is able of guarding all five positions; he can handle the ball, has great court vision, and can score in a wide variety of ways. This is a dude who needs only four steps to get from one side of the court to the other for a lay-up – good luck defending it.
Honourable Mentions: Dennis Schroder (ATL), Jordan Clarkson (LAL), Andrew Wiggins (MIN), Marcus Smart (BOS)
Sixth Man of the Year: Jamal Crawford (LAC)
When Jamal Crawford retires, the sixth man award will be known as the Jamal Crawford Trophy. With three already on his resume, Crawford will no doubt be gunning for another one and who can really stop him? He is everything you want in a sixth man. A guy who comes into the game and instantly makes it happen and can score at will.
Coming off a season in which he averaged 14-points per game, Crawford has always been a dangerous shooter with a killer cross and an inability of missing free throws. Moreover, Crawford has embraced his role and no other bench player understands his role better than Crawford.
Honourable Mention: Cory Joseph (TOR), Rodney Hood (UTJ), Marcus Smart (BOS), Andre Iguodala (GSW)
Rookie of the Year: Brandon Ingram (LAL)
If you look at Brandon Ingram, he has all it takes to be a star in the NBA. The length, the shooting stroke, the high ceiling, the coachability, the make-up, and I can really go on forever. This kid will come into the NBA playing for a weak team full of high upside youngsters and he will get the chance early and often to put the ball into the basket.
Do I faith in Ben Simmons? He is the latest LeBron James comparison after all. The one thing that puts Ingram ahead of Simmons is the offensive maturity of Ingram’s game. If you can score more than your fellow rookies, chances are, you win the award. Simmons although a great talent, with an NBA body and phenominal court vision, does not have a mid-range game and is more a project at this point with a ton of tools. Meanwhile Ingram does not only have a mid-range game, but an NBA three-point stroke. Kevin Durant 2.0 is ready to battle it out with the nation’s favourite.
Honourable Mentions: Ben Simmons (PHI), Buddy Hield (NOP), Tyler Ulis (PHO), Kris Dunn (MIN)
Coach of the Year: Brad Stevens (BOS)
Steve Kerr winning the award last season was nothing short than a disgrace. Brad Stevens has become one of the best young coaches in the game and has done everything and more expected of him when taking over for Doc Rivers.
The Celtics have improved steadily with Stevens at the helm and are ready to take another step forward in the 2016-17 campaign. He is an exceptional coach who the team and the management both trusts and respects for his ability to coach both ends of the floor and this upcoming season will only strengthen his case for the prize.
Honourable Mention: Gregg Popovich (SAN), Quin Snyder (UTJ), Dwane Casey (TOR), Jason Kidd (MIL)
Defensive Player of the Year: Draymond Green (GSW)
The Golden State Warriors will have zero problems scoring. The issues will come on the other side of the court. With very poor rim protection coming from the likes of Zaza Pachulia and David West, the Warriors will rely heavily on Draymond Green to be a big part of the defence and to play the role as the anchor.
Last season, Green may have been a snub for the award, but this season, Draymond will be the guy with Andrew Bogut no longer there. Green is able to defend every position on the court; he is a versatile defender and can even pick up the stats to boost his case for the award.
If everything goes according to plan for the Warriors, Green will be a big part of it and most of his contribution aside from pushing the offence and distributing the basketball will come on the defensive end.
Honourable Mentions: Kawhi Leonard (SAN), DeAndre Jordan (LAC), Avery Bradley (BOS), Hassan Whiteside (MIA)
Most Valuable Player: Russell Westbrook (OKC)
Video game and a play off berth is all that it’s going to take for Russell Westbrook to keep the Oklahoma City Thunder relevant. You better believe he knows that he is the MVP favourite, and his ego will single-handedly elevate him towards the award.
With Kevin Durant out of the picture, this is Russell Westbrook’s team and the only way this team can succeed is for Westbrook to play out of his mind – something that he is very capable of doing.
Will this be the year where Russell Westbrook tears down the rim? The chances of that happening may be as high as his chances of snatching his first MVP trophy.
Honourable Mentions: LeBron James (CLE), James Harden (HOU, Stephen Curry (GSW), Kawhi Leonard (SAN)
NBA All First Teams
All First Team All Defensive Team All Rookie Team
Steph Curry Marcus Smart Tyler Ulis
Russell Westbrook Avery Bradley Kris Dunn
James Harden Kawhi Leonard Buddy Hield
LeBron James Draymond Green Brandon Ingram
DeMarcus Cousins DeAndre Jordan Ben Simmons
NBA All Second Teams
All Second Team All Defensive Team All Rookie Team
Damian Lillard Patrick Beverley Kay Felder
John Wall Aaron Afflalo Jamal Murray
Kawhi Leonard Justice Winslow Jaylen Brown
Kevin Durant Rudy Gobert Marquese Chriss
Anthony Davis Hassan Whiteside Joel Embiid