With the NBA season officially underway, it’s time to debate the topics of who’s going to win the following Regular Season Individual Awards:
- Most Valuable Player
- Defensive Player of the Year
- Rookie of the Year
- Most Improved Player
- Coach of the Year
- Sixth Man of the Year
These 5 awards all have significant value in their own way. All players want these awards, no doubt about, and although the ultimate prize is the NBA Title, these awards showcase outstanding and overachieving individual efforts throughout the course of the season that deserve to be recognized. Being an NBA player who works as hard as the human body can withstand throughout the off-season and in practices, and spends countless nights in the gym, is the type of player who gets recognized for these outstanding achievements.
Coach of the Year
Doc Rivers, Head Coach of the Boston Celtics
Honestly, the easiest award to figure out. Although there are great coaches in the NBA who will improve their respective teams this season, no one will deserve this award more than Doc Rivers. The man has had a hell of an off-season. From convincing Kevin Garnett to play for three more years, and then losing Ray Allen to the Miami Heat, to then signing Jason Terry and trading for Courtney Lee, it is honestly shocking to me that this team will be a Top-3 team in the East this season, but they will be. Anyone, and I mean anyone, who can control the ego of Rajon Rondo, while still clinging onto whatever both Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce have left, while also compiling one of the most solid drafts this off-season, is a phenomenal coach. This, however, goes without saying, considering we all know how outstanding of a coach Doc is. This team fought, and nearly eliminated, the soon to be Champions, the Miami Heat, in the Eastern Conference Finals. Expect Rajon Rondo to take full control of this team, and with a deeper bench and true Sixth Man in Jason Terry to lead the way, this Boston team has improved. Very quietly, but they have. Doc Rivers, this season, will prove to the NBA why he deserves the honor of being named Coach of the Year.
Rookie of the Year
Damian Lillard, PG for the Portland Trailblazers
Lillard is everything you want in a PG: great defender, passer, and scorer. He’s fast and plays with a chip on his shoulder. It helps Lillard that he has been drafted into a situation where the Blazers are looking for that go to guy when LaMarcus Aldridge, arguably the best PF in the NBA, is having an off night. This will help Lillard in more ways than one. For one, it will result in wins, something that helps your resumé when running for any individual award. Secondly, he plays with an All-Star player he can go to for assists and second chance points, something the other star rookies such as Anthony Davis & Bradley Beal do not have. Lillard has already shown the NBA what he is all about in his first couple of games, going over 20 points and 10 assists. With the Blazers having a good mix of shooters and slashers, Lillard will be able to run the offense fluently for Portland, causing him to put up very impressive numbers, as well as get wins along the way. My projections for the rookie out of Weber State are 17 PPG, 7.5 APG, 1.3 SPG, and a Rookie of the Year trophy to hang in his trophy case.
Most Improved Player
Brandon Jennings, PG for the Milwaukee Bucks
Toughest award to pick. So many players are willing to have breakout years, such as Ryan Anderson did last season. I’m going to go with what I think is a safe pick in Jennings. If he can adapt to Monta Ellis, and I think he will, and have an athletic big to run the floor with him, John Henson, this should finally get Brandon adjusted to running a PG-role. Tough role to get used to, but I think he will adjust this season. His improved passing and court-vision, to go along with his outstanding scoring ability, will result in a great year for Brandon Jennings, and a huge step in the right direction for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Defensive Player of the Year
LeBron James, SF for the Miami Heat
What more can LeBron do in the NBA? He is a 3-time MVP, 2-time Olympic Gold Medalist, the 2012 Finals MVP, and an NBA Champion. The only thing missing from that Hall of Fame resumé? A Defensive Player of the Year award. LeBron has always been a top defender at the Small Forward position, but with the weight of the world finally off his shoulders after winning an NBA Title, expect LeBron to improve his defensive game by playing more loose and confident on the defensive end. LeBron also plays on one of the best defensive teams in the league, and he is the anchor behind their success. If LeBron plays well on defense, and helps everyone coexist, the Heat will be the toughest team in the NBA to score on. They will give up the fewest PPG in the NBA, and the anchor behind the defense, LeBron James, will be the reason why.
Sixth Man of the Year
3-way tie: Jamal Crawford | Klay Thompson | J.R. Smith
All three of these guys have a great chance to win the award with James Harden becoming a starter. NBA fans know what Jamal Crawford is capable of doing: scoring, and very quickly. The main problem with Crawford is that he has to want to play. He can’t get lazy at all this season, like he has in the past, or the other two guys will take the award right from him. Klay Thompson is a guy who a lot of people really like because he might be a Top-3 shooter in the league. He also has the ability to drive to the rim, something great shooters (like Steve Novak) often cannot do efficiently. If the Warriors can stay healthy, Klay Thompson will be a huge reason as to why the Warriors make the playoffs. The last player, J.R. Smith, is my favorite, by a little bit. Under Mike Woodson, JR has seemed to thrive. This mainly has to do with the fact that Woodson has given him the green light to control the second unit. He has also transformed J.R. into a better defender, rebounder, and passer, than he was 3 years ago under George Karl.
Most Valuable Player
Dwight Howard, C for the Los Angeles Lakers.
My “Bold Prediction” is this one. I love LeBron James’ game, but Derrick Rose won the MVP award over LeBron in 2010 because the NBA needed a new MVP. As well as I expect LeBron James to play this season, Dwight Howard is a dominant big man playing with the best true-PG in the NBA. With the Lakers having the shooters they have (Kobe, Nash, MWP, Jamison, Meeks, and Blake), the inside-outside game for LA is going to thrive. Dwight Howard has put up MVP numbers the past couple of seasons, but he has not had the right attitude to see through it all the way. With a new team, and Kobe to keep his head straight, Dwight Howard is due for a monster season. The reason I like Dwight Howard over Kevin Durant is that Durant will not get enough touches offensively to be able to put up the type of production MVP’s deserve. You can blame that one on Russell Westbrook. Also, LA is going to finish higher in the Western Conference than the Thunder, which has a large part to do with the MVP trophy. Dwight Howard is the most valuable player on the Lakers, he impacts the game by scoring, rebounding, and defending. As great of a scorer as Kevin Durant is, he lacks the defensive presence that makes opponents hate to face him. Without Dwight’s presence down low, the Lakers become a 4th/5th seed in the West, even with the seemingly ageless Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash. Without Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City, Russell Westbrook still continues to take 23 shots per game, maybe more. Overall, Dwight Howard is the most valuable player to a team in the league, and that’s why he is my MVP.