NBA Early Season Award Picks
I have selected the talent I feel will take the awards home at the end of this NBA season. Enjoy
MVP- Russell Westbrook — This was a tricky one because it’s easy to go with the sure picks — Lebron James, Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Curry, but I decided to think slightly outside the box and go with someone who has not won the award, but has finished top 5 in voting on several occasions. With an All-Star MVP under his belt, Russell Westbrook is ready to take the next step into immortality with a regular season MVP award. With the departure of former MVP and long time teammate Kevin Durant, Russ has been given the freedom to wreak havoc on the league as the sole leader of the Thunder. Let’s not forget the amazing performance he put on at the end of the 2014–2015 season with Durant out. He was in my eyes the best point guard in the league then, but his team’s record would not allow him to be MVP. This year is different with Billy Donovan having a year under his belt now as coach and Russ with the “now I do what I want” attitude. I think the MVP Award will be his to lose.
Defensive Player of the year- Kawhi Leonard- Can we say a third straight DPOY????? I think so. Kawhi Leonard is the pinnacle of defense in the basketball universe. From post players to wing players Kawhi defends them all, and at a high level. While anchoring one of the top defenses in the league, Kawhi is able to go night after night locking down the other team’s best player(s) not to mention while also leading the team in scoring. He has no weakness on defense and may be the best defender the league has ever seen . His rare combination of size, length, and intelligence along with Popovich’s defensive scheme make Kawhi Leonard a scary sight for an opposing player.
Rookie of the Year- Joel EMbiid- “The Process” is prepared to make a splash on the scene. With the comparison to Hakeem being hard to ignore, especially with his go-to move being the Dreamshake. At 7’0” 250lbs Embiid is a load for anyone down on the block. His range also extends to the three point line with a nice stroke. The only obstacle he has to overcome in the ROY race is staying healthy all season and getting more minutes because of the minutes restriction he is currently on. If he can do those two things KIA will be awarding him a car and trophy at the end of the year
Sixth Man of the year- Brandon Knight — This feels weird for me to say; Brandon Knight Sixth man of the Year? Coming out of high school as a top 5 recruit and playing one year at Kentucky is normally a sure path to being an NBA starter. Not so much the case for Brandon Knight. After bouncing around a tad bit he has found a home in Phoenix, who in recent years has had a surplus of guards. With Knight undoubtedly being a starting caliber point guard in the NBA it’s a true blessing to have him leading your second unit night in and night out. Earl Watson is well aware of this luxury and will look to get maximum production from his veteran guard. As long as the Suns keep it somewhat respectable in the W-L column Brandon Knight will claim his first Sixth Man of the Year award
Most improved player- Myles Turner — Coming on to the scene strong last year Myles Turner showed why he was the #10 pick and such a highly recruited high school prospect. His size and rim protecting ability make him a nightmare on the defensive end along with a nice touch and subtle stroke on the offensive end make him a tough match up. With the new look Pacers looking to take that next step and make some noise in the playoffs, they will turn to Myles Turner to compliment Paul George. Turner will rise to the occasion and show the league that he is a legitimate force amongst young centers/forwards such as Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor, and Clint Capela, to name a few. After averaging 10 pts and 5 rebs last season I expect to season Myles Turner become a double-double machine.
Coach of the year — Brad Stevens — The Celtics are the REAL DEAL and with Stevens at the helm they have a legit shot at the Eastern Conference Finals . After winning 48 games last season, Stevens and the Celtics are on a mission to surpass the 50 win mark this season. Will it happen? Yes, I think it will and Stevens will have a big part in that happening. Since his days at Butler, he has been a basketball guru when it comes to X’s and O’s. Being able to diagram a play for any situation at anytime is a trait that took Stevens to multiple Horizon League Championships as well as two Final Fours and National Championship games. With arguably the best team Stevens has had during his time in Boston, he will be able to showcase his full talent and show why he is the best young coach in the NBA today. This won’t be the last time he wins the award either.