So last night was the day NBA fans have been waiting for since the Regular Season came to an end, which just so happens to be my first problem with the show. The Regular Season ended in April, and the show was just last night, late June. We had to wait all that time to find out who won the Regular Season awards? That is horrible and the league needs to fix it. With that out of the way, I’d like to recap the winners from last night.
Most Valuable Player: James Harden
Figured we’d get to the big one first. So James Harden has been fighting for an MVP for a while now, losing to Steph Curry and Russell Westbrook, so it is nice to finally see him get the award. However, I am on the LeBron train when it comes to this one. LeBron was very close in PPG, and better in RPG, APG, and FG%. Harden lead his team to the best record in the league yes, but LeBron was more VALUABLE to his team. Without Harden the Rockets could be a low seeded playoff team. Without LeBron the Cavs would be a lottery team. I don’t want to take away from Harden though, he had an amazing year, posting 30 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 8.8 APG, 45% FG%, 37% FG3% and a 29.8 PER. The Rockets also could have made the Finals had CP3 not been out the last two games of the WCF. The voters just have to start making the MVP criteria clearer and then there would be no complaints from me. Also, now all three former members of the OKC Big 3 (KD, Russ and Harden) have won MVP, yikes.
Rookie Of The Year: Ben Simmons
As a Philly fan, this is the award I was waiting for the most. After a year of Donovan Mitchell trolling and a majority of NBA fans apparently forgetting the rules, it was so satisfying to hear Ben’s name be called for this award. Ben was nothing short of amazing last year, posting 15.8 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 8.2 APG and 54.5% FG%. Ben racked up 12 triple doubles, which is the second most by a rookie all time. He was extremely efficient and has to potential to be one of the best players in this league. His basketball IQ and passing skills are extremely impressive and earned him comparisons to LeBron James, Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson. Mitchell is a good player, but he is much less efficient than Ben. The only arguments for Mitchell over Ben were that “he’s not a rookie” and “he can’t shoot threes” which are two pretty weak arguments because, according to the NBA rules he is a rookie and how you score shouldn’t matter when you are as efficient as Ben. Needless to say I was very happy with this.
Defensive Player Of The Year: Rudy Gobert
Not much to say about this one, Rudy deserved it. Joel was also nominated so obviously I was rooting for him, but I knew Rudy was gonna get it. The Jazz got really hot and made their playoff push when Rudy made his return during the season. His defensive impact was huge for the team. He averaged 2.3 blocks per game and 0.8 steals per game. His defensive impact is much more than stats however. Rudy most definitely deserved this award.
6th Man Of The Year: Lou Williams
Once again, this one was easy to predict. If we are being honest, Lou Will had no business even being the 6th man on the Clippers last year considering he was the best player on the team. He came off the bench and played 33 minutes per game and posted 22.6 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 5.3 APG, 43.5% FG%. Happy for the former Sixer, he definitely deserved it.
Most Improved Player: Victor Oladipo
As with the last two, this one was a no-brainer. Dipo played his first season with the Pacers last year, after being included in the PG to OKC trade, and he played with a huge chip on his shoulder. Dipo played at superstar level and was awarded with a spot in the All-Star game and a nomination to the third team All-NBA. He posted 23.1 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 4.3 APG, 47.7% FG%, 2.4 steals and a 23.1 PER. His previous highs in those categories are, 17.9 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 4.1 APG, 44% FG% and 1.7 steals. So it’s easy to see that his game took a huge jump. I am excited to watch him continue to grow and become a certified star in this league.
Coach Of The Year: Dwane Casey
Isn’t it crazy that the Coach of the Year was fired just a few weeks ago? After leading the Raptors to their first 1 seed and the team’s highest win total ever, the Raptors decided to fire him because their star players choked against LeBron once again. He is now Head Coach of the Detroit Pistons and I am sure he’ll do great things with that team. For this award I would have given it to Brad Stevens, but Casey is still a good choice.
Something I wanted to bring up was the announcement during the show that Joel Embiid would be the cover athlete of NBA Live 19. NBA 2K has been a shitty money-grab the last few years, so this might be the thing that finally gets me to switch over to Live.
Overall the show was successful and basically all of the winners deserved it. The only changes I would make are LeBron James as MVP and Brad Stevens as COTY. Other than those, the voters made the right choices. Like I said in the first paragraph, they need to make the award show closer to the end of the Regular Season. With the Draft and now the award show out of the way, all NBA fans are ready for the start of this year’s Free Agency.
(Photos via: @NBA on Instagram)