Award season has begun.
On Saturday, the NBA revealed the finalists for each end-of-season award.
The three finalists for the NBA's six major individual awards ... all here in one place: pic.twitter.com/HAmnCQ1hmV- Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) August 8, 2020
The last time our NBA.com Staff checked in on the NBA's main awards was ahead of Christmas. It's safe to say that quite a lot has changed since then.
Here are our updated picks...
|Awards||Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles)||Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21)||Benyam Kidane (@BenyamKidane)||Yash Matange (@yashmatange2694)||Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay)|
|MVP||Giannis Antetokounmpo||Giannis Antetokounmpo||LeBron James||Giannis Antetokounmpo||LeBron James|
|DPOY||Giannis Antetokounmpo||Giannis Antetokounmpo|| |
|Giannis Antetokounmpo||Ben Simmons|
|Sixth Man||Montrezl Harrell||Montrezl Harrell||Dennis Schroder||Dennis Schroder||Dennis Schroder|
|Most Improved||Bam Adebayo||Brandon Ingram||Bam Adebayo||Bam Adebayo||Bam Adebayo|
|Rookie||Ja Morant||Ja Morant||Ja Morant||Ja Morant||Ja Morant|
|Coach||Nick Nurse||Nick Nurse||Taylor Jenkins||Nick Nurse||Nick Nurse|
|Executive||Lawrence Frank||Lawrence Frank||Lawrence Frank||Lawrence Frank||Lawrence Frank|
Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles): Probably the hardest for me is Most Improved. Adebayo was my pick at the start of the season, but I switched to Pascal Siakam at Christmas because of how he's completely transformed himself for the third year in a row and how he has had more success as Toronto's No. 1 option than I think anyone could've expected. Devonte' Graham has also been fantastic, as has Ingram. Each one of them has a strong case.
Sixth Man of the Year isn't easy either. It's not as crowded of a field as MIP, but Schroder deserves a long hard look. He's having the best season of his career and he's played a big role in Oklahoma City's success. It hurt leaving him off my ballot.
As for the others, I feel confident about Antetokounmpo being MVP and DPOY, putting him in line to become only the third player in NBA history to win both awards in the same season. Zion Williamson was making the Rookie of the Year race interesting, but I have a hard time talking myself into giving an end-of-season award to someone who appeared in only 19 games before the season was suspended. There is literally no precedent for it. Nurse is the easiest Coach of the Year selection in a long time and Frank did a masterful job putting this LA Clippers team together.
Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): Well, this isn't very fun. Scott and I are in agreement pretty much across the board aside from Most Improved Player, but I think that speaks more to how clear-cut much of these answers have become by this point of the season.
With everything set in stone based on results prior to the season's stoppage, I couldn't even give any candidate wiggle room to make a stronger case.
In the preseason, I predicted Zach Collins to be the Most Improved Player and by Christmas time, injuries caused me to tab Graham as my choice. I actually have nothing against Adebayo, but my final choice to go with Ingram is somewhat narrative-based.
I think Bam has continued on the trajectory many envisioned him to be on in Miami, though at a much more accelerated pace. Ingram, on the other hand, overcame the issues that ended his season early last year, entered a new situation and embraced his new role to the fullest, becoming an All-Star in the process.
Just looking at the numbers, Ingram has grown in ways that many might not have believed were possible after his first three years, specifically as a 3-point shooter and from the free throw line. After making 127 3s in his first 190 career games (at a 32.9% clip), he's hit 137 through his first 56 games as a Pelican.
Sometimes, all that's needed is a change of scenery.
Benyam Kidane (@BenyamKidane): Let's start with the MVP. Not discounting Antetokounmpo's phenomenal statistical output, but for LeBron to lead the league in assists and put the Los Angeles Lakers at the top of the Western Conference is hard to ignore. The same arguments used against LeBron in previous seasons now work in his favour. Can he do it in the West? He just did.
Antetokounmpo has been the anchor of the league's best defence by a considerable margin, but if not for games played, I think Simmons had a real chance at the award. His defence seems to fly under the radar, despite picking up the best player on the other team most nights, while switching one through five effortlessly.
When it comes to Sixth Man of the Year, the Clippers duo of Lou Williams and Harrell haven't been as dominant off the bench as last season, paving the way for Schroder to emerge as the most consistent bench scorer in the league. There's a reason the Thunder's best lineups and three-headed guard monster include the speedy German.
While Nurse more than exceeded expectations with the Toronto Raptors this season, I'm rolling with Memphis' Jenkins for Coach of the Year. Sitting in the eighth seed of the Western Conference with the youngest team in the league is nothing short of remarkable.
Yash Matange (@yashmatange2694): Leading the league in ESPN's Real Plus-Minus, PER and NBA.com's PIE prior to the season being suspended, I see the "Greek Freak" winning his second straight MVP. LeBron was making a very realistic late-season run for the award, but I think Antetokounmpo has it sealed up.
Including the MVP choice, pretty straight forward picks for me. That said, I have changed four of my picks since Christmas Day.
I had Graham for MIP during Christmas, but Adebayo has distanced himself from the pack as a clear MIP frontrunner. I had Anthony Davis for DPOY, but Antetokounmpo's defensive impact is just tremendous. He led the league in Defensive Win Shares and Defensive Box Plus/Minus (as per Basketball Reference) and ranked sixth on ESPN's Defensive Real Plus-Minus before the season restart.
I had to change my Coach of the Year pick from Erik Spoelstra to Nurse for the record he's led the defending champions to despite losing one of the best players in the league in Kawhi Leonard.
The last pick I changed was Sixth Man of the Year. I had Williams for the award in December but have since changed that to Schroder. Harrell is the popular choice, but I believe the German is more valuable to the Oklahoma City Thunder than Harrell is to LA. That's not necessarily a shot at Harrell as much as it is a testament to the Clippers' depth and versatility.
Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay): No disrespect to Giannis and his sensational season, but LeBron is the MVP in my book.
As Benyam said, LeBron has been hearing his entire career how he couldn't do what he's done out West and now that argument is dead and buried. And at age 35?! We are witnessing greatness. LeBron is leading the best team in the toughest conference at an advanced age - yeah, some of you stat geeks out there won't like it but narratives matter in voting. It's LeBron's award this year and he deserves it.
I've talked all year about how Nurse has vaulted into the best coach in the league conversation. I'm happy to see that my colleagues agree he deserves the Coach of the Year award.
Adebayo becoming an All-Star as quickly as he's done on a playoff team is why I think he deserves the Most Improved Player award over Ingram. Also, Ingram was supposed to be good - he was drafted second overall. Why are we giving him credit for becoming the player many thought he would?
Schroder has come off the bench and changed games for the Thunder this season. I feel like Harrell and Williams are interchangeable as the sixth man for the Clippers, whereas Schroder is a legit sixth man.
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