The fall of a dynasty and the rise of a new powerhouse in the West, this first half of the NBA Season has been action-packed. Predicting who will win the championship this season is up in the air as are many of the awards given away at the end of the season.
The Projected Award Winners:
Rookie of the Year: Ja Morant
Almost having the dunk of the century, Ja Morant has been exciting to say the least in his first year campaign. The electrifying point guard out of Murray State was drafted 2nd overall by the Memphis Grizzlies and has far exceeded expectations for his rookie season. Ja Morant has been a great playmaker and turning into an offensive weapon for the Grizzlies franchise in need of an extensive rebuilding project after falling to 33-49 during the 2018-2019 NBA Season. The Grizzlies are on pace to finish worse than that record this season with their new young core taking over in the Post-Conley/Gasol era. Ja Morant is emerging as a leader within this franchise looking for an identity. Morant is leading the team in points, assists, and steals with 18.2, 6.5, and 1.2 per game respectively. Morant is emerging as a star in this packed rookie class.
Comeback Player of the Year: Carmelo Anthony
He is back! Carmelo Anthony, the same person who was out of the league a few months ago has stepped out of the shadows and is leading the Portland Trail Blazers alongside Damian Lillard. Carmelo is looking like his old self with the way he has been playing since signing with Portland in November. The 17 year vet is averaging 16.2 points per game and 6.2 rebounds per game in his reunion campaign. Carmelo Anthony is also a potential all-star candidate for the way he has been playing this season as a nice compliment in the frontcourt alongside Hassan Whiteside for the Trail Blazers. Carmelo Anthony is the clear comeback player for the year for the way he has not only been able to turn his career around but turn a team looking for an answer fighting for a playoff berth.
Defensive Player of the Year: Anthony Davis
The new Los Angeles Laker is one half of the two-headed monster with Lebron James leading this young team to being atop the NBA. The Lakers went from narrowly missing the playoffs to being the team to beat this season with the addition of Anthony Davis. Davis has been a dominant force for this Lakers defense with locking down anyone who comes inside the paint. The Big Man has 2.4 blocks per game, 9.5 total rebounds per game, and 1.5 steals per game. With a player efficiency rating of 28.8 on the season, Anthony Davis has been a force to be reckoned with for the Lakers. Davis has been a big contributor to several of the Lakers win to the way he can absolutely manhandle anyone who dares to enter his territory.
MVP: Giannis Antetokounmpo
The most coveted award in the NBA is a toss-up between two young superstars in Giannis Antetokounmpo and reigning rookie of the year champion Luka Doncic. Giannis barely edges out Doncic for this award as the leader of the Milwaukee Bucks seeking the first NBA championship of his career. Doncic has significantly elevated his already tremendous playmaking abilities into being a franchise player for the young Mavericks squad. Doncic lights up the scoreboard and his stats are crazy, but the value that Giannis brings to the Milwaukee Bucks is so significant that the team would not be remotely close to where they are without the Greek Freak in the center. Giannis has a player efficiency rating this season of 33.6, well above his career average of 22.7. He has been a big contributor to several of the Bucks wins this season and has a stat line of 30.2 points, 12.8 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.1 blocks per game. Giannis has been a dominant force for the Bucks Offense and a lockdown defender. One thing Giannis worked on during the offseason to improve his game was his 3-point shooting as he has historically struggled from behind the arc. Giannis has completely turned that around and is pulling up over 5 times a game from behind the 3 point line making almost 2 of those shots per game which is by far the best of his career. This could be the year that Giannis leads Milwaukee to the NBA Finals with the last time the Bucks Franchise being in the finals was the 1973-1974 NBA Season where they lost to the Celtics in 7.
Sixth Man Award: Lou Williams
Winner of this award in 3 of the last 5 seasons, Lou Williams is determined to break the record for most sixth man awards in NBA history. Williams is currently tied with Jamal Crawford for the most coveted sixth man title. Williams is putting up some of the best numbers in his career and is thriving in his role off the bench for the Los Angeles Clippers. The Los Angeles Clippers are a stacked team with plenty of star power featuring Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. With those two leading the charge, it’d be pretty difficult for anyone else to get noticed. However, that is not the case by any means in Los Angeles, Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams have been a key role for the Clippers in why they are currently in the middle of the playoff mix in the deep Western Conference. Despite coming off the bench, Williams still manages over 30 minutes per game and nearly 20 points per game. The 33 year old vet has completely transformed his game over the last few seasons after entering the Los Angeles market. With the way Williams has been playing, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if he is once again the sixth man player of the year.
Coach of the Year: Eric Spoelstra
What was once a team projected to narrowly make the playoffs, the Miami Heat sit near the top of the NBA standings after a fast start to the season. Spoelstra has led this team of overlooked and passed on players into a powerhouse that is exciting to watch with a near perfect record in the American Airlines Arena. With newly acquired dual threat Jimmy Butler, he has emerged as a strong veteran presence in the Heat locker room needing an identify. Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson have both come into the spotlight after being practically unknown before the start of the season. Both guards went undrafted in 2018 and went on to join the starting rotation at different times for the Miami Heat. Duncan Robinson has quickly transformed into one of the league’s elite shooters behind the arc. Eric Spoelstra has helped turn this ragtag squad into a team looking to make a deep run in the playoffs.