NBA

NBA First Quarter Awards

ESPN

With most teams over twenty-games as of now in the season, we are officially a quarter of the way done with the eighty-two-game season. Twenty games is enough to finally get rid of the small sample size narrative, and you can begin to see who is the real deal, and who was an opening night stud. The analysis will be on the Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the year, Defensive Player of the year, Most Improved Player, Sixth Man of the year, and Coach of the year.

Coach of the Year: Monty Williams, Phoenix Suns

Mark J. Rebilas-USA Today Sports

Monty Williams started off the season streaky, going 1-3 in Phoenix’s first four games. Since that day, Monty and the Suns have gone on a seventeen game win streak, now having a record of 18-3, defeating the Warriors last night with MVP level Stephen Curry having the worst shooting night of his career, and showing the entire league they are not finished from what they started last season. Monty Williams goes on some incredible streaks, going 8-0 in the NBA’s bubble in Orlando, not making the playoffs though. Monty Williams has also made the Suns offensive efficiency go through the roof. The Suns are currently forth in scoring with 112.2 points per game and are third in assists per game with 26.4 assists per game. The Suns are also leading the league in field goal percentage at 48.1%, showing their consistency and raw shooting ability. If the Suns can keep up the win totals and go on crazy streaks like this, Monty Williams is a clear winner for Coach of the year over coaches like Steve Kerr and Steve Nash.

Most Improved Player: Dejounte Murray

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

So Ja Morant wins the award for me, but someone drafted second overall does not deserve the nod for most improved because, well, he should already be pretty good. After starting off his career in his first two seasons averaging under ten points per game, Dejounte missed the whole 2018-19 season with a torn right anterior cruciate ligament. In his last two seasons he’s averaged 10.9 points per game and just over fifteen last season, and currently Murray is just under twenty points per game scoring. While Dejounte is having the best scoring season of his career, he is easily having the best defensive season of his career, he’s nearly doubled his assists numbers, and in nineteen games is head and shoulders above any other season of his career. While ‘Baby Boy’ has progressed every season of his career, no one expected him to progress this fast into this season, hands down my Most Improved player (unless Ja Morant wins it, which he shouldn’t).

Sixth-Man of the Year: Tyler Herro, Miami Heat

Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

Tyler Herro exploded out of the bubble in 2020, making an NBA Finals in his rookie year as well as breaking the rookie playoff three record. This season off the bench, Tyler is averaging 21.8 points per game, a six point per game increase from last year. Every single category Tyler Herro has statistically has improved, making him a vital part of this current third seed Miami Heat. Tyler Herros hot start is not at all what it seems, because I don’t see it as just a start. Tyler Herro could very well make an All-Star team if his stats improve, and coming off the bench for Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry and the Miami Heat is the perfect spot for him.

Defensive Player of the Year: Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors

Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports

Draymond Green has shown his expert defensive ability, leading the charge for a Warriors team that is doing incredible, yet still having big injuries. Green has had a league-leading defensive rating at 99.4, as well as averaging 1.1 steals per game and 6.7 rebounds per game. The biggest reason Draymond deserves over the usuals like Rudy Gobert is his leadership. He brings his whole team up a notch on defense, something not many can do. Draymond has won the award in the past, and while I think Caruso has a chance of winning leading the league in steals, it’s not the steals award, it’s the defensive player of the year award.

Rookie of the Year: Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers

David Richard/USA TODAY Sports

To be compared to Tim Duncan or Kevin Garnett in any time in your career is huge, but as a rookie, it’s astounding. Scottie Barnes and Evan Mobley are in a tight race for Rookie of the Year currently, but I have to give it to Mobley just off of the eye test alone. The Cavaliers are currently 11-10, and Evan Mobley has had a huge impact on that. Evan Mobley is averagine 14.4 points per game this season while playing 33.8 minutes per game. Mobley also leads all rookies with four double doubles on the season, averaging eight rebounds per game as well. The biggest surprise is his 1.8 blocks per game, which for a rookie in his first twenty games is a crazy statistic. I will give Scottie Barnes his fair praise, he’s leading rookie in PPG and MPG, but I feel like Evan Mobley is the best rookie this year from the sample size we’ve seen thus far.

Most Valuable Player: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

Getty Images

It was a very tight contest against the old teammates, being Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry. Kevin Durant is leading the league in points per game, but I give the edge to Stephen Curry because he is having a historic season, already at 108 three’s while only being in game 20. I know the like of Nikola Jokic and Giannis won’t make it back in the running due to their team record, so it’s really just a race between Kevin Durant and Steph, but I love this pick and it was the easiest I made.

Come back after game forty-one for every team to see the half season awards, hope you enjoyed, Shaney out.

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