Who should take home this season's hardware?
Now that the regular season has drawn to a close, our NBA.com Staff share their picks for each end-of-season award, from Most Valuable Player to Coach of the Year.
|Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles)||Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21)||Benyam Kidane (@BenyamKidane)||Yash Matange (@yashmatange2694)||Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_)|
|MVP||Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets||Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets||Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets||Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets||Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets|
|DPOY||Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz||Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz||Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers||Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz||Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz|
|6MOY||Joe Ingles, Utah Jazz||Jordan Clarkson, Utah Jazz||Jordan Clarkson, Utah Jazz||Jordan Clarkson, Utah Jazz||Jordan Clarkson, Utah Jazz|
|MIP||Julius Randle, New York Knicks||Julius Randle, New York Knicks||Julius Randle, New York Knicks||Julius Randle, New York Knicks||Julius Randle, New York Knicks|
|ROY||LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets||LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets||LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets||LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets||LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets|
|COY||Monty Williams, Phoenix Suns||Tom Thibodeau, New York Knicks||Tom Thibodeau, New York Knicks||Tom Thibodeau, New York Knicks||Tom Thibodeau, New York Knicks|
Rafferty: MVP, DPOY, 6MOY, MIP and COY ended up being relatively easy choices for me. Rookie of the Year on the other hand ... not so much.
As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, games played matters less to me for Rookie of the Year than others, but Anthony Edwards played well enough to win this award while playing 21 more games and logging nearly 1,000 more minutes than Ball. That's a lot in a race that is this close.
I wouldn't be opposed to Ball and Edwards sharing this award - they'd become the first joint winners since Elton Brand and Steve Francis in 1999-00 if they did - but if I had to choose one, I'd give Ball the ever-so-slight edge. Not only did he have a better all-around season, he was a driving force in Charlotte making the Play-In Tournament.
McGregor: I had a tough time deciding who should be Coach of the Year.
I could make a compelling case for several coaches in the NBA this season. From Coach Williams in Phoenix to Steve Nash in Brooklyn, Doc Rivers in Philadelphia and even Nate McMillan, who turned things around in Atlanta in a short period of time.
That being said, I felt like Thibodeau has completely engineered the impressive turnaround in New York City.
Just look at the defensive improvements.
The Thibs effect. pic.twitter.com/zRKyW97w0j- x - NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) May 16, 2021
The Knicks have an identity and they've doubled down and committed to it. The result? Going from 21-45 to 41-31 and the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. I've got to give the credit where it's due.
Kidane: Out of my picks, the one that stands out is Ben Simmons over Rudy Gobert for Defensive Player of the Year.
Not taking anything away from Gobert, who has been unbelievable anchoring the Jazz's defence and is a big reason why they're the team with the best record in the league. Playing alongside Joel Embiid, who has been a monster defensively this season, probably works against Simmons, but his versatility and impact, switching between guarding point guards through to centres, gives him the edge in this debate for me.
Not only can Simmons disrupt any player on the court, but his steals and deflections generate a ton of offence for the 76ers, who are top five in both fastbreak points and points off turnovers.
Ben Simmons.- Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) May 8, 2021
Matange: In the end, all the picks felt quite straightforward, but just like my friend Gil, my toughest choice was for Coach of the Year.
For me, this award is quietly the toughest to decide on nearly every year. It's not given simply to the coach of the best team in the league as often as expected. With all the unique adversities that each coach overcomes over the course of a season, there are multiple genuine contenders every year.
In addition to the ones Gil mentioned, there were also legitimate COY cases for Quin Snyder, Michael Malone and Erik Spoelstra.
Snyder made the Jazz that much better by leading them from a winning percentage of 61.1 to 72.2 (52-20, the league's best record). Malone, who led the Nuggets, who are only one of the four Conference Finalists from last year to finish in the top four in either conference this season, dealt with injuries and a slow start to a 47-win season. And Spo is Spo.
Eventually, however, I went with the popular pick of Tom Thibodeau. Given the feel-good transformative story that the Knicks have been this season, it's difficult to not vote for Thibodeau. It's his defensive schemes, which had the Knicks improve from 23rd to fifth-best, combined with Julius Randle's career-year that helped the franchise snap their seven-year postseason absence.
Irving: I'm with Scott on this one - Rookie of the Year was the hardest selection by far. Every other award felt pretty straightforward to me, but choosing between LaMelo Ball and Anthony Edwards was as tough as it gets.
Edwards did everything he could while Ball was out with an injury to gain some ground in the Rookie of the Year race. I'm not sure what else he could have done to sway opinions in his favour. But with that being said, Ball's body of work this season was just too strong even after missing over 20 games. Especially in leading the Hornets to the postseason.
I detailed my reasoning on selecting Ball in my final Rookie Ladder of the season, but as I stated in there, there's a pretty strong case for co-Rookie of the Year honours like 1995 when Grant Hill and Jason Kidd split the award or 2000 when Elton Brand and Steve Francis did the same.
With that being said, if I have to choose one player, I'm sticking with Ball.
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