NBA Awards Ballot

1st Place: James Harden, SG, Houston Rockets- 
2nd Place: Russell Westbrook, PG, Oklahoma City Thunder
3rd Place: LeBron James, SF, Cleveland Cavaliers 
4th Place: Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Antonio Spurs
5th Place: Steph Curry, PG, Golden State Warriors

In the end, this was a two person race between Harden and Westbrook. Up until last week, Harden was my clear cut choice for MVP, but upon further examination of Westbrook’s season, and his late-season unbelievable push combined with Harden’s select few lack-luster performances in the previous few games, it became much more difficult. Westbrook has achieved something only one other player in the history of the NBA has done, average a triple-double for an entire NBA season. He also broke Oscar Robertson single season record for most triple-doubles in a single season, and he’s doing it in a much more efficient way. He’s playing fewer minutes per game and the pace of play is much slower than when Robertson played.

But just because Westbrook has achieved this great feat, does not mean Harden’s season is any less impressive. Harden came within two rebounds of averaging a triple-double himself. He also finished with more efficient numbers from a pure shooting perspective, and averaged more assists per game than Westbrook. Harden’s team finished with a better record, and his offense was much more efficient than that of Westbrooks. Given Harden’s success and relative numbers, I gave the edge slightly to him rather than Westbrook.

Defensive Player of the Year
1st Place- Rudy Gobert, C, Utah Jazz
2nd Place- Draymond Green, PF, Golden State Warriors
3rd Place- Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Antonio Spurs

Between Gobert, Green, and Leonard, I don’t there has ever been a defensive player of the year award race quite as close as this. Gobert is a defensive stud at the five position. What he brings to the Jazz cannot be measured by pure numbers. Not only does he registar outstanding defensive statstiscs, but I would argue, without him the Jazz as a defensive juggernaut would not be possible. Even though he’s a 7-footer, Gobert has the ability to guard on the perimeter without taking away from his defensive prowess on the interior. He led the NBA in blocks per game, and he is among the most efficient defensive centers in the NBA.

Rookie of the Year
1st Place- Dario Sarcic, PF, Philadelphia 76ers
2nd Place- Malcolm Brogdon, PG, Milwaukee Bucks 
3rd Place- Marquese Chriss, PF, Phoenix Suns

As opposed to the aforementioned MVP and defensive player of the year awards, the rookie of the year race was among the worst in recent memory. Not only was there no clear-cut winner, but there was arguably no clear-cut hierarchy to the voting. Of the five rookies I considered (Dario Sarcic, Malcolm Brogdon, Marquese Chriss, Joel Embiid, and Buddy Hield) none of them stuck out ahead of the others. Sarcic didn’t thrive until Embiid went down with an injury. Brogdon was a no-show until mid-March, the similar can be said for Hield and Chriss, and Embiid played in just 30 games on a minute’s restriction. Sarcic winning the award is much more indicative of the rookie talent displayed this past season, rather than Sarcic’s overall talent as an NBA player.

Coach of the Year
1st Place- Brad Stevens, Boston Celtics
2nd Place- Quin Snyder, Utah Jazz
3rd Place- Greg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs

If we wanted too, we could give Greg Popovich the coach of the year award every season. But that doesn’t take away from what Brad Stevens or Quin Snyder did with the Celtics and Jazz respectively. Stevens led the Celtics to the number one overall seed in the east, despite his best player is the league wide acknowledged limited Isaiah Thomas. When Stevens took the Celtics’ head coaching job, nobody thought he would get this team this far this quickly. Given this, combined with the history of the winners of this award, I think Stevens is the clear-cut choice.

Sixth Man of the Year
1st Place- Lou Williams, SG, Houston Rockets
2nd Place- Jamal Crawford, SG, Los Angeles Clippers
3rd Place- Eric Gordon, SG, Houston Rockets

Even after his mid-season trade, Lou Williams didn’t miss a beat. His scoring, shooting percentages, and overall production did not take a dip, in-fact it’s even more impressive given the fact that he went from the dreadful Lakers to the contending Rockets. Of all the candidates, Williams was the most consistent and had a truly remarkable season off of the bench.

Most Improved Player
1st Place- Nikola Jokic, C/PF, Denver Nuggets
2nd Place- Myles Turner, C, Indiana Pacers
3rd Place- James Johnson, PF/SF, Miami Heat

This past season Jokic emerged as one of the best centers in the NBA. Not only did he lead the Nuggets in almost every major statistical category since the All-Star break, but he also was among the most efficient players at the Center position. Jokic became a must watch league-pass player.

All-NBA First Team
G- James Harden, Houston Rockets
G- Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
F- LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers 
F- Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
C- Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

All-NBA Second Team
G- Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors
G- Isaiah Thomas, Boston Celtics
F- Giannis Antetokounmpo- Milwaukee Bucks 
F- Kevin Durant- Golden State Warriors
C- Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans

All-NBA Third Team
G- John Wall, Washington Wizards
G- Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
F- Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz
F- Jimmy Butler- Chicago Bulls
C- Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves

All Defensive First Team
Rudy Gobert, C, Utah Jazz
Draymond Green, PF, Golden State Warriors
Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Antonio Spurs
Marc Gasol, C, Memphis Grizzlies
Chris Paul, PG, Los Angeles Clippers

All-Defensive Second Team
Anthony Davis, C/F New Orleans Pelicans
DeAndre Jordan, C, Los Angeles Clippers
Jimmy Butler, SF, Chicago Bulls
Mike Conley, PG, Memphis Grizzlies
John Wall, PG, Washington Wizards

All-Rookie First Team
Malcolm Brogdon, PG, Milwaukee Bucks 
Buddy Heild, SG, Sacramento Kings
Dario Saric, PF, Philadelphia 76ers
Marquese Chriss, PF, Phoenix Suns
Joel Embiid, C, Philadelphia 76ers

All-Rookie Second Team
Yogi Ferrell, PG, Dallas Mavericks
Jamal Murray, PG, Denver Nuggets 
Jaylen Brown, SF, Boston Celtics
Rodney McGruder, SF/SG, Miami Heat
Willy Hernangomez, C, New York Knicks