Most Improved Player: Lonzo Ball, New Orleans Pelicans
We are going to start this article off with one of my favorite awards. Most Improved doesn’t always mean the player is going to be a star in the league, see Ryan Anderson. Nonetheless, this is Lonzo Ball’s award to lose. If you follow me on twitter, you know I am a big fan of Lonzo. He has great vision, stifling defense and a developing jumper. That last one is definitely a work in progress, but his changed jump shot looks much more fluid, and it should eventually start to fall.
As many of you know, the most improved player award is heavily swayed by the story that follows. Jimmy Butler had his life story which is something you definitely need to know as an NBA fan. Similar to Butler, Giannis Antetokounmpo had an inspirational story with how he grew up. Victor Oladipo went from borderline bust with the Orlando Magic and the Oklahoma City Thunder, to budding star with the Indiana Pacers. So as you can see, the story can sway the publics opinion. With Lonzo, he has a similar story to Oladipo. From borderline bust to hopefully, budding superstar. Like I said, it is Lonzo’s award to lose. He needs to be able to continue the high volume defense and great playmaking vision. He also needs to hit open threes, shoot decent percentages and stay healthy. He won’t be able to win this award if he shoots bad percentages or is off the court due to injuries. Even with all of the different variables, I still believe Lonzo will win this award. He is set up with a great young core to help him win this award.
Honorable Mentions: Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks), Buddy Hield, De’Aaron Fox (Sacramento Kings)
Sixth Man of the Year: Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklynn Nets
The sixth man of the year award is a little more difficult to predict. Yes I could just choose Lou Williams and call it a day, but Spencer Dinwiddie is in a better situation in terms of offensive output. He is going to be able to lead the Brooklynn Nets bench squad and give some quality backup minutes behind Kyrie Irving. Dinwiddie’s size is what makes him a special player. Standing at 6’6, he is one of the NBA’s biggest point guards. His height really helps him get his shot off with a lot more ease since he usually has a mismatch in terms of size.
Spencer Dinwiddie is going to have a huge opportunity to win this award, being able to lead this bench will be a big reason why he will be able to win it. He has been improving every season, as he scored 16.8 points a game last season, where he shot 44.2% from the field and he dished out 4.6 assists a game. He should be able to carve out an even nicer role with Caris LaVert and Kyrie this season. Without Kevin Durant, LeVert and Kyrie will be taking a bulk of the shots, along with Dinwiddie.
Honorable Mention: Lou Williams (Los Angeles Clippers)
Defensive Player of the Year: Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
Rudy Gobert is one of the NBA’s best defenders in the NBA. The Stifle Tower has been a two time defensive player of the year award winner. If he was to win once again, this would give him a three-peat, which has only been done one other time, by Dwight Howard. This was another difficult choice, choosing between Draymond Green and Rudy is tough. Draymond is a versatile defender that is able to switch between guards and bigs. Rudy is a lockdown paint protector that is able to completely take over a game with his defense alone. Another player that could be in this conversation is Myles Turner. He led the league in blocks last season. But the award is about defensive stats as a whole, which does include rebounds. Rudy has the blocks, rebounds and advanced defensive stats to push him above the rest.
The Stifle Tower was able to reject 2.3 blocks a game, and he also grabbed 12.9 rebounds a game, which was top five in the NBA last season. Rudy was one of the NBA’s best defenders, and he also propelled the Utah Jazz to second overall in defensive rating. He was the NBA’s best defender last season, there is no reason that changes during this upcoming season.
Honorable Mentions: Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors), and Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers)
Rookie of the Year: Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies
I started this article before it was announced that Zion Williamson was injured for six to eight weeks. However, I still had Ja Morant winning the Rookie of the Year award. Ja is a dynamic point guard that has the ability to score, but thrives because of his play making. His ability to elevate his teammates game makes him such an intriguing prospect.
Although Zion is out for a couple of months, he still has a chance to win the award. It is hard to count him out as he is a freak of nature. If he really is out for exactly eight months, he will miss 28 games. He would have to play every single game from there on to play in 54 games for the season. The lowest amount of games played for a Rookie of the Year award winner was 50 games. It is possible, but this is also assuming he is able to stay healthy every game from then, to the end of the season. I would have my bet on Ja for this prestigious rookie award.
Honorable Mention: Zion Williamson (New Orleans Pelicans)
MVP: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
This was an easy choice for me. Stephen Curry should be unleashed this season. No Kevin Durant and no Klay Thompson will force Steph to be the main option on this Golden State Warrior squad. The last time he was without KD, he averaged 30.1 points a game on 50.4% from the field, 45.4% from behind the arc, and he shot 90.8% from the free throw line back in 2015. In 2016, he averaged 25.3 points a game on 46.8% from the field, 41.1% from behind the arc and 89.8% from the free throw line. Two very good seasons, and also, the first unanimous MVP in NBA history. The point is, when Steph is alone and the first option, he plays very well. This season should be no different.
Steph Curry is one of the NBA’s most prolific scorers. If I had to guess, he should be able to snag this years award once again. I do believe he will have his fair share of competition though. Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden, and apparently Jrue Holiday (see Bleacherreport article for reference) will all have a crack at the MVP trophy. Harden is arguably the best scorer in the NBA because of his numerous ways to get open and also, his ability to draw fouls. Giannis is one of the most unstoppable players in the NBA and there is almost no way to deny him from getting to the rim. Jrue Holiday is one of the NBA’s best perimeter defenders and is a great scorer as well. Through the competition, I still believe Steph comes out on top as the MVP. Steph is the best shooter of all time, and he will have this season to cement himself further in NBA history.