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Around the Association: Awards

By Rob Fischer (Memphis Grizzlies Television Pre / Postgame Host and Sideline Reporter on FOX Sports Southeast)


As the NBA and the world take a break due to Coronavirus, it’s time to evaluate the NBA postseason awards. There could be a little season left to play, or we could be facing the postseason immediately following the break. So today, we’ll evaluate the player likely to be named the award winner, who’s in contention, and who should be getting more love than they are currently getting.


MVP
Likely winner- Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks) The best player on the best team makes the Greek Freak an easy choice for back to back MVP awards. Plus, his numbers are ridiculous. He’s averaging 29.6ppg along with 13.7rpg, and 5.8apg. His team is 53-12 and was on its way to a 70 win season until Giannis got hurt and the Bucks lost 3 straight.

In contention- LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers) Still the best player on the planet. His skill at his age is remarkable and he’s not slowing down. He leads the league in assists (10.6) and assists per game and could be the only player ever to lead the category in his 17th season or later.

Needs more love- Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers) Let’s remember…. The Lakers missed the playoffs last year with Lebron James. Anthony Davis joined the team and they’re the best team in the Western Conference. Coincidence? No.

Rookie of the Year
Likely winner- Ja Morant (Memphis Grizzlies) I don’t think this race is close. Sure Zion Williamson has been amazing, but Ja Morant has done it all year. He’s the flashiest rookie in the league and puts up good numbers on a nightly basis including one triple double and 11 double doubles. Plus, he’s got the Grizzlies in a playoff spot when no one expected them to be close.

In contention- Zion Williamson (New Orleans Pelicans) His jump into the season has been nothing short of remarkable. He’s averaging 23.6 points per game and almost 7 rebounds with 3 double doubles in just 19 games. But that’s the big number. Just 19 games.

Needs more love- Kendrick Nunn (Miami Heat) he has started 62 games this year and is averaging 15.6 points per game on 44.8% shooting. What’s more remarkable is that he was undrafted and is a key piece to an Eastern Conference contender.

Defensive Player of the Year
Likely Winner- Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers) The addition of Davis has made the Lakers a defensive powerhouse in the NBA. They were a poor defensive team last year, but the presence of Davis has changed it completely. The Lakers currently have the third best defensive rating in all of the NBA. Davis is 2nd in the league behind Hassan Whiteside with 2.4 blocks per game and gathers 1.5 steals per game.

In contention- Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz) Still one of the best interior shot blockers in the NBA, Gobert could be recognized as the best defensive player each and every year. Plus, he’s pulling down 10.3 defensive rebounds per game. But the team’s overall defense is down this year (11th overall) and there’s always a search for a new winner.

Needs more love- Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks) Metrically, he’s the best defensive player in the game. His team also has the best defensive rating in the league. That seems as though it should make him a shoe-in for defensive player of the year. He has a league leading 11.5 defensive rebounds per game.

6th Man of The Year
Likely winner- Lou Williams (Los Angeles Clippers) The perennial 6th man of the year contender is at the top of the list again. He’s a three time winner of the award and at the age of 33 could be in line for his 4th piece of hardware. He makes the Clippers a dynamic team. They have the best roster top to bottom in the NBA and when they go to their bench, Williams makes them as dangerous as a lot of starting units. He averages 18.7 points a game plus hands out close to 6 assists

In contention- Montrezl Harrell (Los Angeles Clippers) The other main cog in the Clippers bench unit probably deserves the award, and would get my vote, but Lou Williams has the advantage because of consistency through the years. Harrell averages 18.6 points per game and pulls down 7.1 rebounds. But he’s also a defensive pest for a Clippers team that’s 5th in the NBA in defensive efficiency. He’s a monster on a second unit that’s the best in the game.

Needs more love- Dennis Schröder (Oklahoma City Thunder) He averages 31 minutes a night coming off the bench for the Thunder and scores 19 points a night along with 4 assists. His 47% shooting makes him a matchup nightmare for 2nd string point guards. He’s a big reason why the Thunder are 5th in the West despite losing their franchise guard last offseason

Coach of the Year
Likely winner- Erik Spoelstra (Miami Heat) The Miami Heat were expected to go through a rebound year. They’re in the 4th spot in the East with a non-wowing starting Five, which includes an undrafted rookie and Jimmy Butler, who couldn’t get along in his last two spots. Spoelstra’s teams always play hard as hell defense and this team has become fun to watch as a pesky underdog in the East. Spoelstra didn’t get enough credit when he had great players, but he’s showing his mettle with this current roster.

In contention- Billy Donovan (Oklahoma City Thunder) No one expected the Thunder to be in a playoff hunt much less the 5th spot in the West. After losing their two superstar players, Billy Donovan has the Thunder playing hard, playing as a team, and excelling on the road. They shoot for a high percentage and have a top ten defense. Donovan’s showing his coaching ability after so many years with his hands tied.

Needs more love- Frank Vogel (Los Angeles Lakers) Let’s not forget that the Lakers missed the playoffs last year. Coaching two superstars and keeping them happy isn’t easy. There’s a skill to managing that type of team. Especially when the rest of the team is just filler. Throw in the fact that Vogel has a bunch of former head coaches on his staff, and he was given an unenviable position. And all the Lakers have done is dominate the West from day one this season with a top 4 offense and defense.

Executive of the Year
Likely winner- Sam Presti (Oklahoma City Thunder) As I mentioned with Billy Donovan, Presti was forced to deal his two superstars away last offseason. The Thunder was left with the possibility of not making the playoffs and needing to rebuild in a small market. It’s the first rebuild for the Thunder since they arrived in OKC. For now, he picked up Danilo Gallinari who’s been healthy, Chris Paul who’s accepting and thriving in his role, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who’s a star for the future. For the future, he picked up a ton of picks and Gilgeous-Alexander. The rebuild doesn’t seem far off with the Thunder just a game back for 4th in the West.

In contention- Rob Pelinka (Los Angeles Lakers) Let’s not forget that the Lakers missed the playoffs last year!! Adding Anthony Davis to LeBron James doesn’t make Pelinka a genius. But when the money is slim and you need to add pieces around two stars, Pelinka took gambles and they’ve paid off. Dwight Howard, Avery Bradley, Danny Green, and Markieff Morris have made the Lakers a defensive juggernaut and a physical team. The bench is good enough on most nights. With little resources, Pelinka put a squad together to win a championship.

Needs more love- Zach Kleiman (Memphis Grizzlies) The Grizzlies looked like they’d be one of the biggest rebuilding teams in the league. Acquiring asset after asset this summer not only helped put together a team that can compete now, but a team that should be a load for years to come surrounding three young stars and plenty of future draft picks. The return the Grizzlies have gotten for Mike Conley alone should put Kleiman in contention for this award. And the fact that the Grizzlies passed the Vegas win total after just 52 games is remarkable.

You can contact me on Twitter: @thefishnation
Or by email: robfischer22@att.net