We are about a quarter of the way through the NBA season and man, it’s been one for the ages.
While it is way too early to give out awards, if the season ended now how would everything breakdown?
The MVP race this year is very one-sided. We already know how talented this man is and if he continues producing at this rate we may be witnessing one of the greatest shooting performances ever. We should also take note that his team has only one loss this season. The only regular season games the Warriors are not favored in are, an away game against Oklahoma City Thunder and two away games against the Spurs. That is pretty remarkable.
Rookie of the Year
As much as we want it to be Kristaps, you have to give it to Karl-Anthony Towns. He has been extremely efficient, ranking 14th in both player efficiency, and rebounds. Among rookies he ranks first in rebonds and second in points per game. One grudge I have always had against this award is that with the exception of a few players, the majority of rookie of the year award winners have played on pretty shabby teams. While it is hard for a single first year player to turn around an organization, it would be a nice trend to start seeing rookies on good teams start winning this award.
Defensive Player of the Year
Kawhi Leonard is listed at 6’7” but has a wingspan of 7’3”. That is amazing. He ranks 7th in steals this year and it is not only his individual stats that we should be focused on with giving him this award. Lets look at his teams stats so far. His team as a whole ranks first in opponents points per game, keeping their average opponent to 89 points a game, which is 5 points ahead of the next best team. They also rank 1st when it comes to limiting their opponents field goal percentage. They rank 1st in opponents points per shot and 2nd in both defensive rebounds and opponents' three point percentage. Kawhi is their anchor on defense and always has to guard the best player on the opposing team. If San Antonino looks to maintain this defensive intensity throughout the season, look for Kawhi to be named Defensive Player of the Year.
Most Improved Player
In going from averaging around 7 points per game last year to ranking 20th this season in scoring, C.J. McCollum, from an offensive point of view, has helped take some pressure off Damien Lillard. He also ranks 8th this year in three pointers made and is shooting a very efficient 40% from beyond the arch. While he is slightly undersized for his position, I can see C.J. becoming a player like Bradley Beal who can score in the 20’s on a nightly basis and take pressure off his more explosive partner in the backcourt.
Sixth man of the year
While the Pelicans have been a disappointment so far this year, Ryan Anderson has put up very impressive numbers off the bench. The main reason why Anderson comes off the bench is due to the fact that Anthony Davis wants to play at the 4 spot rather then the center position. Anderson averages 17.3 points a game which is higher then any other player currently coming of the bench. He also grabs around 6 rebounds a game, which is decent for a stretch four. For a big man, he is one of of the best free-throw shooters in the league, shooting 88% from the free-throw line, currently ranking him 11th in the league in this category. In a league where fouling the center is the key to winning ball games, it is nice to see another big man who is a threat from the free-throw line
Coach of the Year
While we would love to give this award to Luke Walton for the Warriors hot start, he technically hasn’t won or lost a game the entire season. While Scott Skiles is not getting as much press, his team of starless players has really been impressive and quietly ranks 5th in the Eastern Conference. He has done a great job in developing quality players like Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris and in not making any major moves over the off season. He keeps a solid core of players who understand his system. I predict that the Magic will continue to surprise teams and make the playoffs this year.
By Ian Riaf