MVP: Nikola Jokic
This year has given us one of the closest mvp reasons we’ve seen, a 3 man race between the 3 best bigs in the nba plus a late season push from Luka Doncic who was looking to make up ground from a slow start. By the all star break, it looked like Joel Embiid would be closing in on his first MVP award or even Giannis grabbing his 3rd, but in the end, it’s the 7 footer in Denver who will become the 13th player in NBA History to win back to back MVPs after a sensational season that saw him lead a injury riddled Nuggets team to a playoff berth, averaging 27 PPG, 14 RPG, and 8 APG.
Coach of the Year: Jason Kidd
Now this may be a biased pick from me, being a Mavs fan and all but the way Jason Kidd turned this team around is too impressive to go unrewarded. Jason Kidd was hired this off-season after longtime coach Rick Carlisle parted ways with the team and took a team that was in the lower half of the league defensively last year and led them to a top 10 defensive season despite lacking a true elite defender on the team. Everyone knows this Mavs team can score thanks to phenom Luka Doncic but the way Kidd has this team playing truly elite defense is more than deserving of this award. There were plenty of candidates this year, Monty Williams led Phoenix to a franchise record 64 wins, Ime Udoka led the Celtics to the 2 seed in the East in his first season, and Erik Spoelstra led Miami to the 1 seed in the East. But in the end, I’m giving the nod to Jason Kidd.
Defensive Player of the Year: Rudy Gobert
This is an award that was so close because there wasn’t really anyone who separated themselves from the pact. Draymond probably wins this award if he didn’t miss so many games in the middle of the season, Smart and Bridges had sensational defensive seasons but weren’t quite on par with the bigs. That leaves it down to Bam, Giannis, and Rudy Gobert. You could give the award to any of those 3 guys but my vote is given to Rudy Gobert who exemplified elite defense and elite rim protection once again for Utah.
Rookie of the Year: Scottie Barnes
If this award was called Rookie of the First Half of the Season, Evan Mobley would’ve ran away with it. But unfortunately an injury derailed him in the 2nd half of the year. Meanwhile, Toronto rookie Scottie Barnes only improved in the 2nd half of the year. Going from 14 PPG on 53 TS% pre all star break to 17 PPG on 58 TS% post all star break while helping Toronto secure a playoff berth in what was expected to be a rebuilding year for them earned him this year’s rookie of the year award.
6th Man of the Year: Tyler Herro
One of the rising stars in the NBA, this will probably be the last time he is in contention for this award. With a max extension on the horizon, he will soon join Jimmy Butler, Bam, and Kyle Lowry in the Heat starting lineup. But for now, he is the runaway candidate for 6th man of the year, averaging a whopping 20 points per game coming off the bench and being a key contributor in Miami securing their #1 seed of the eastern conference.
Most Improved Player: Darius Garland
There were a lot of worthy candidates for this award, but going from an average player to an all star and leading scorer on a playoff team is too much to overlook. That’s exactly what Darius Garland did this season. Seeing jumps in basically every statistical category including his efficiency, there’s no denying Garland is this year’s most improved player, fighting off solid cases form the likes of Jordan Poole and Ja Morant.