In what still seems like one of the longest seasons ever, this shortened 72-game regular season has come to an end.
There were many ups and downs that made preseason award picks tough to gauge, nonetheless here is what my preseason picks were.
As the season progressed though, through Covid health and safety protocols in tandem with the injury riggers that even a typical NBA season would present, here is what I compiled for my 2020-2021 NBA Awards recipients.
Nikola Jokic – Most Valuable Player
Averaging career-highs across the board in 26.4 PPG (a shooting slash of 56.6/38.8/86.8 – TS% of 64.7), 10.8 RPG, 8.3 APG, including 16 triple doubles.
Joker, in terms of efficiency, is unreal. He’s in the 93rd percentile in from the mid-range, 88th percentile from 14 feet (52%), 44% above the break from 3, and 84th percentile in general from 3.
Of note: Denver’s a +14.2 with his presence offensively,
He leads the league in win shares (15.6), offensive win shares (12.2), offensive box score plus or minus (9.2), box score plus or minus (11.7), value over replacement (8.6), and PER (31.3).
He’s led the Nuggets, through plenty of adversities, with great consistency and shown more growth and prowess as a scorer in this season.
In one helluva season for the Serbian big man, he should garner the MVP. This would be the first time since 2003 (Tim Duncan) that a big man has won, and would be the first time since 2000 (Shaquille O’neal) that a center has won, showing love to the big fellas in this guard and wing-dominant rendition of the NBA.
Ben Simmons – Defensive Player of the Year
My preseason pick for the award, he’s lived up to the expectations.
He’s been a lynchpin for the Sixers, and fully unlocks their true defensive potential. Even more, he does what he does defensively without fouling more often than not.
The Sixers are 3.3 points better defensively per 100 possessions with Simmons in play, good for a 79th percentile ranking. The percentage of possessions that end in turnovers for the opposition is a +1.3% (83rd percentile).
Lineups that feature Simmons give up just 106.8 points per 100 possessions, ranking in the 93rd percentile of the league and collectively see an uptick in the amount of forced turnovers as well.
His effect, even if not directly in stats but on the flow of the game, is unparalleled from any perimeter-defending position.
LaMelo Ball – Rookie of the Year
Averaging 15.7 PPG, 6.1 APG, 5.9 RPG, the 19 year old took the league by storm.
His organic flair for the dramatic in playmaking allows for his style of play to captivate the attention of any aged basketball fan.
Add to that the impact he had on his team once inserted into the starting lineup, you begin to see exactly why he’s deserving of the award.
As a starter, in 31 games, he averaged 18.1 PPG and had a near 2:1 assist to turnover ratio. The Hornets would go 14-17, but they were more formidable in their LaMelo led rendition. Because of that, there will be expectations placed upon both him and the franchise moving forward.
Julius Randle – Most Improved Player of the Year
A first team All-NBA calibur season, becoming the sixth player to average 24 PPG, 10 RPG, and 6 APG. This is an exclusive collection of company, only kept by Robertson, Chamberlain, Bird, Westbrook, and Jokic (reported by AP News).
He has the Knicks in the middle tier of the Eastern Conference ranks and has helped revive Knicks basketball, which in itself is one helluva feat.
He’s averaging career-highs in rebounds (10.2), assists (6.0), 3pt % (41.1), and free-throw % (81.1) as well.
Jordan Clarkson – Sixth Man of the Year
Averaging 18.4 PPG and the team enjoying a 49-18 record when he comes off the bench, Clarkson is this season’s best player off the bench.
He’s been pyrotechnic-like off the bench this season, following up on a strong showing in their first round bubble matchup with the Nuggets from last season.
He has compiled 24 20+ point games, including 5 30+ and 2 40+ point outings.
Monty Williams – Coach of the Year
Quite frankly, if Chris Paul isn’t receiving the Most Valuable Player trophy and James Jones isn’t receiving Executive of the Year, there has to be one Suns representative that receives league-wide recognition.
Williams, having galvanized the Suns in the bubble, then Manning the sidelines in their 51-21 (2nd best record in the league) campaign, he’s gotten them into the realm of solidifying their first playoff appearance in a decade.
Sean Marks – Executive of the Year
For his efforts in turning the Nets roster into a superteam, while also adding ancillary pieces that help make this team more complete, while also seeing them garner the 4th best record in the league, we have Sean Marks.
This season, he’s added James Harden, Bobby Brown, and Blake Griffin.
From the business side of the NBA, he’s helped the Nets ascend from near irrelevance to prominence.