By: Nick Pooler
This year the NBA awards were up in the air. Several awards were debatable, and some were in the bag before the show even started. The show was a huge success and included a wide range of things. From Dikembe Mutombo winning the Craig Sager award and giving a great speech, to Bill Russell flipping off Charles Barkley on live TV.
Starting with the most important award to a lot of people the MVP. This one was in the air. Several people wanted to see LeBron James take it home for the way he carried his team. Others wanted to see James Harden finally win his first for the way his Rockets team dominated. The remaining fans wanted to see the darkhorse Anthony Davis take it home for the way he led the Pelicans to a sweep of the Trail Blazers and winning a game against the Warriors which is more than LeBron could do. At the end of the day, Harden came out on top with 965 total points in the voting. James came in second with 738, and Davis finished in 3rd with 445. Harden took home his first and now looks to build on this award and turn it into an NBA Finals Championship.
Rookie of the Year was another highly talked about debate. Was Ben Simmons a rookie? Even if he is, is he better than Donovan Mitchell? What about Jayson Tatum? All of these questions were answered Monday night. Simmons took it home with 481 total points in the voting. Mitchell was second with 323 points and Tatum was third with 101 points. This rookie class was unreal and I can not wait to see where they go as time goes on. Several fans are comparing them to the 2003 class with LeBron, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and D Wade. Boy would that be something!
NBA Sixth Man of the Year was really between two people all year. Eric Gordon and Lou Williams. Fred VanVleet was the other player thrown in with them for the award. Both Gordon and Williams helped their respective teams tremendously in the season. But it was Williams who came out on top to win his 2nd 6th man of the year award. Gordon finished in 2nd place and VanVleet of the Toronto Raptors finished in 3rd.
Defensive player of the year was one that really could go anywhere. All 3 that were nominated are such important players on the defensive side of the ball to the point where you could pick out of a hat and it would be fair. Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid and Rudy Gobert were nominated for the award. The voting turned out to be not so close. Gobert took it home by a longshot. Picking up 466 points, followed by Embiid with 163, and Davis with 139. Gobert is a blocking machine and I personally would not want to meet that man in the paint. Looking forward to watching him build with Donovan Mitchell growing as well by his side.
Most Improved Player was without discussion going in. Yes, there were several players who grew from last season but none more larger than Victor Oladipo. Acquired in a trade that sent Paul George to Oklahoma City, Oladipo shined in his first year in Indiana. He averaged 23.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.4 steals. Compared to a season ago when he averaged 15.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.2 steals.O Oladipo impacted the Pacers to a point of pushing LeBron and the Cavaliers to 7 games. This award was greatly deserved and he will continue to improve next season. He beat out Clint Capela (99 points) and Spencer Dinwiddie (50 points). Oladipo had 499 points.
The last award up for the taking is the most interesting so far. Coach of the Year. You have Dwane Casey, led his Raptors team to a franchise record in wins and clinched the one seed in the East. Won their first round matchup against the Washington Wizards and then got swept by the Cavaliers. Right after the season, Casey was fired and signed by the Detroit Pistons. Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics took his team without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward and upset the Bucks, 76ers, and nearly beat the Cavaliers. He made sure to bring out the best in players like Terry Rozier, Al Horford, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. He is one of the best in the league and is only going to get smarter and more talented as years go on which is scary. Lastly, Quin Snyder of the Utah Jazz took a team of what some may say no names, and led them to a second round playoff. Defeating a Thunder team full of all stars with Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George in the first round 4-2. But falling to the Rockets second round. Snyder brought out the talent of rookie phenom Donovan Mitchell and used the likes of Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors, Ricky Rubio and Joe Ingles to make his team shine. In the end, it was very close as each coach scored in the 200 point range. Dwane Casey came in first with 292, Snyder in second with 217 and Stevens in 3rd with 203. All 3 coaches will continue to grow and make this league a much more competitive place for these players.