As I am finishing this article just before midnight, the refreshing feeling of basketball finally being back is feeling more and more realistic. Though most things in the real world still fail to replicate a semblance of normalcy, in multiple contexts, at least having basketball back can restore some balance to our everyday lives. As we return with just seeding games remaining to determine the rankings in each conference ahead of the playoffs, I took the time to sit with my thoughts regarding selections for the NBA Awards. After going back and forth, researching, and referring back to my eye test from watching guys play throughout the season, here are my selections.
Most Valuable Player -Giannis Antetokounmpo
Back to back for the Greek Freak. He’s led his team to historic heights both for his franchise and in NBA history, while elevating his game and stamping a more profound effect on the game at the same time.
His team is at the top of the NBA standings and in a lot of peoples eyes are favored to win the Larry O’Brien trophy when it’s all said and done.
Rookie of the Year – Ja Morant
Morant came into the NBA with little to no “learning curve” period, he essentially hit the ground running and has the new era of Grizzlies basketball on the brink of a playoff berth. His fan-engaging style of play along with competitive flair and confidence to go at the stars he’s admittedly studied all give us fans something to look forward to for years to come. For context to just what Morant is on to, the last rookie to lead his team in both scoring and assists was Michael Jordan.
Defensive Player of the Year – Giannis Antetokounmpo
What more can be said about Giannis at this point, a menace on offense but also a defensive anchor on the less glamorous end. Whether it’s a guard, a forward, a center, pick and roll, in transition, close out and recover, help defense… you name it, Giannis has it covered like a condor with his unparalleled wingspan.
6th Man of the Year – Dennis Schroder
This was a three-man race essentially all season, along with the Clippers duo of Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell. Those two, having each other to help shoulder the weight of a second team as a tandem made my decision on rewarding Schroder slightly easier. The Oklahoma City sparkplug proved to be just that whenever he took the floor for his team. Picking up the opposition full court on the defensive end, pushing the pace offensively when changing ends, and bringing an overall electric energy to the court wirh his presence alone. He embodies the definition of a prototypical sixth man for any rotation.
Most Improved – Brandon Ingram
With the pressures of playing in LA and doing so alongside LeBron James behind him, Ingram was finally had an opportunity to show his true potential in a more advantageous situation, and he would relish it. While the face of the franchise, Zion Williamson, was out, Ingram stepped up as the focal point of the teams offense and he would carry the team to a point where they are now contending for a playoff berth at the tail end of the western conference standings. In combination with the aforementioned Williamson, B.I. has established a synergy that allows for the Pelicans to showcase their young talents in tandem on the floor, and gives them a bright future to plan for. He’s also shown growth in his 3-pt shooting, shot selection, and on the defensive end, with statistical improvement to exemplify his growth.
The Pelicans have a core of guys that will surely grow and become a staple in the western conference ranks. Ingram and hia continued growth will be at the forefront of determining what heights their franchise can potentially reach in the next 10 years.
This was one of the most competitive awards. Jayson Tatum, Bam Adebayo, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Pascal Siakam, Christian Wood, Davis Bertans, Trae Young, Markelle Fultz, Jaylen Brown, Devonte Graham, were all considered and all had intriguing resumes to entice. However circumstance and productivity tilted the scale in favor of Ingram.
Coach of the Year – Billy Donovan
Nick Nurse and Mike Budenholzer made strong cases, but Donovan having bottom of the western conference predictions attached to his teams fate in the preseason, and now having a chance at potentially the third seed, heavily favors his case.
All NBA 1st Team
All NBA 2nd Team
All NBA 3rd Team
All Defense 1st Team
All Defense 2nd Team
At last basketball is back! In extremely unique circumstances, let’s see how the rest of the season turns out as well as what comes of the ayoffs this season. Needles to say, it will be beyond intriguing to follow from storylines to worldly happenings mixed in, this is a season for the history books.
Zero confirmed positive marks regarding the Covid-19 tests for the last two league-wide bubble testing brings great closure to the idea of this style of housing for the NBA. Let’s hope for continued successes regarding the health of the leaves players moving forward.