The NBA post-All Star weekend run for glory has begun as teams fight for playoff spots and players continue to put in their bid for NBA Awards.
The NBA regular season is coming close to an end and in due time players will be bringing home some shiny hardware. The NBA awards being presented to players and coaches are Rookie of the Year, Most Improved Player, Sixth Man of the Year, Coach of the Year and NBA Most Valuable Player.
For some categories the potential winner is pretty obvious with little debate. As for the others, the choices could spark a debate or simply make you question your decision.
Rookie of the Year
Ben Simmons, 76ers: Although I’ve never been fond of the rookie ruling, redshirt rookie Simmons should be the winner this year. Coming close to averaging a triple-double every other game, he’s by far one of the best on the Philadelphia team. Simmons leads his team in assists and steals, and has the ability to discombobulate his opponent on the floor. He stands at 6-foot-10 as a point guard, averaging 16.7 points, 7.4 assists, 7.8 rebounds, as well as adding 1.9 steals a game in the mix. He’s truly bringing the definition of “Trust the Process” to light. Simmons’ stats should remind you of someone back in 1981. If you guessed Magic Johnson, you’re on a roll.
Most Improved Player
Victor Oladipo, Pacers: Hands down it belongs to this DMV native. Being drafted by the Orlando Magic in 2013, it seemed Oladipo was the much needed answer in the rebuilding phase. After three years of one system, he was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, which was a totally different system. The light didn’t fully shine on him with Russell Westbrook taking lead and being the dominant scorer on the team. After just one season, Oladipo was traded again, this time to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for veteran Paul George. Playing for the Pacers has increased his leadership role on the team and given Indiana a decent road leading to the playoffs. Oladipo’s numbers are 24.1 points, 4.2 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game. He’s that dependable anchor the Pacers need moving forward. To top it off, he’s been posting career highs in shot attempts, field–goal percentage, three-point shooting, rebounding, steals and points.
Sixth Man of the Year
Lou Williams, Clippers: No stranger to the award having won it during the 2014-15 season, Lou Williams can most certainly take it again. Since his last win and transitioning from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Houston Rockets and now the Los Angeles Clippers, Williams has been the man off the bench keeping the momentum going. He’s one of the reasons why the Clippers are still holding onto a playoff spot despite the loss of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. An even better reason Williams deserves the Sixth Man of the Year award is because he not only helped Los Angeles get a win over the defending champs, but he dropped 50 points in the process. Coming off the bench, Williams is averaging 23 points per game and keeping the Clippers afloat. He’s a guaranteed winner for this.
Coach of the Year
Dwane Casey, Raptors: It’s a big toss up for Coach of the Year. You have Dwane Casey and the Toronto Raptors sitting atop the East with the current best record at home. Then, you have the Houston Rockets in the West and the reigning COTY Mike D’Antoni, who favorites to possibly win it all. The easy decision could be that Casey deserves it more because D’Antoni won it last year, but we all know that’s not how this works. My vote is Casey because credit is deserved on his part for the consistency this season in the East. Toronto has been looming in the shadows behind the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics this season. They’ve remained steadfast and working toward getting the respect they’ve earned. Head coach Dwane Casey is the reason for it.
NBA Most Valuable Player
James Harden, Rockets: THE BEARD!!! Harden was definitely a runner-up for Most Valuable Player last year, but Russell Westbrook broke records and averaged a triple-double during the regular season. Harden is playing some of his greatest basketball alongside Chris Paul, having the best record in the league. Averaging 31 points per game and close to nine assists, he’s raising the bar continuously. Harden is long overdo for this award after always coming in second for a few years. He’s even the first player to score 60 points as part of a triple-double (11 assists and 10 rebounds). The Beard and the crown will soon merge as one. For a full list of our post-All-Star NBA MVP rankings, click here.