With the NBA recently announcing 3 finalists for each award: Rookie of the Year, Most Improved Player, 6th Man of the year, Coach of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and the Most Valuable Player, I'm going to share my opinions for who should win each award, and I'll rank the finalists from 3-1.
Finalists: Ja Morant, Kendrick Nunn, and Zion Williamson
Nunn's Rookie Stats: 15.2 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 3.3 APG, 29.7 Minutes, Heat record 44-27
Nunn has been the most surprising rookie this year, being undrafted, yet has been the starting point guard on the Miami Heat, which has been one of the most surprising teams this season and can be a real threat in the postseason. Nunn has got the starting spot over Goran Dragic this season, averaging 15 points a game. He has been outstanding for Miami, but hasn't performed better than Zion and Ja this season.
Zion's Rookie Stats: 22.5 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 2.1 APG, 27 minutes, 19 Games Played
Even though Zion definitely has the best numbers by any rookie this year, the small sample size just isn't enough to put him over the top. He only played 19 games before the season went on hiatus and those 19 games put him in the race as the Pelicans were fighting for the playoffs, but since he hasn't played all year, he has almost no shot at getting the award.
Ja's rookie stats: 17.8 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 7.0 APG, 30.9 Minutes, 48 FG%
This should be unanimous. Ja Morant has been the best player on the Grizzlies, leads all rookies in total points and total assists, and before the hiatus, the Grizzlies sat in the 8th spot in the West. No doubt Zion put up better numbers and has been great for New Orleans, but Ja's leadership as a rookie and the numbers that he has put up all year has to stand for something.
Players that could've been a finalist: Tyler Herro and Brandon Clarke
Finalists: Brandon Ingram, Luka Doncic, Bam Adebayo
Luka's 2019-20 stats: 28.4 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 8.9 APG, 33.9 MPG, 31.5 3-pt%
Luka's 2018-19 stats: 21.3 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 6.0 APG, 32.1 MPG, 32.7 3-pt%
Luka is definitely the best player out of these 3, but Luka was already a Rookie of the Year and an All-Star caliber even before the season. Luka has broken out a lot earlier than expected, but this was kind of expected that he would be a superstar. Dallas is a playoff team and we'll see what Luka can do in the playoffs, but not as distinguished as Bam and Ingram.
Bam's 2019-20 stats: 16.0 PPG. 10.3 RPG, 5.1 APG, 1.3 BPG, 33.9 MPG
Bam's 2018-19 stats: 8.9 PPG, 7.3 RPG 2.2 APG, 0.8 BPG, 23.3 MPG
This was a close call, but Bam is my number 2. Bam has broken out into a Eastern Conference All-Star and has been a great 2nd option to Jimmy Butler in Miami. Bam is a mobile big that can guard big men and guards, and his defensive impact is another huge reason why he is even considered for this. He was a backup to Hassan Whiteside last year, and this year in Miami, he has been better than Whiteside has ever been.
Ingram's 2019-20 stats: 24.3 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 4.2 APG, 46.3 FG%, 39.1 3-pt%
Ingram's 2018-19 stats: 18.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 3.0 APG, 49.0 FG%, 33.0 3-pt%
Ingram's improvement has been delightful to see as he just needed the new environment in New Orleans to thrive. Ingram was compared to Kevin Durant out of the draft and he was constantly criticized for not showing any promise. However, getting away from LA was the best thing for him as this season, he was a Western Conference All-Star and is now praised by fans.
Players that could've been a finalist: Jayson Tatum, DeVonte Graham, and Fred Van Vleet
Finalists: Montrezl Harrell, Lou Williams, and Dennis Schroder
Lou's 2019-20 stats: 18.2 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 5.6 APG, 28.7 Minutes, 35.2 3-pt%
This might be surprising as Lou has won this award for the past 2 seasons and 3 times in his career, but Lou just hasn't had as good of a season than Dennis and Montrezl. Even though Lou's main role is to score off the bench and he is one of the best at doing so, Lou still averages the least PPG out of these 3. Schroder and Harrell have been surprising this season and Lou has played even worse than expectations, so that's why he is number 3 despite winning this for the past 2 years.
Montrezl's 2019-20 stats: 18.6 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 1.7 APG, 27.8 Minutes, 58 FG%
Even though there are two Clippers in the race for this award, I think none of them should win. Montrezl gets the close number 2 because he has played better than Lou on offense and defense. He leads all bench players in double doubles and for being an undersized center at 6'8, his defense is incredible. He also plays less minutes than Lou and has averaged more PPG. Montrezl is the best big man on the Clippers, but he just works better of the bench.
Schroder's 2019-20 stats: 18.9 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 4.0 APG, 30.9 Minutes, 37.9 3-pt%
Schroder has always been a score-first point guard, but in his 2nd season off the bench for OKC, he has been a 6th Man of the Year on the best efficiency of his career. He leads the league in bench points and he has been one of the best players on a OKC team that has shocked the world in making the playoffs. Schroder has capabilities to start on any great team, but he has played tremendous basketball off the bench in OKC.
Players that could've been a finalist: Derrick Rose and Marcus Smart
Finalists: Mike Budenholzer, Billy Donovan, Nick Nurse
Budenholzer is the reigning COY, but in my opinion, he shouldn't have been a finalist over Erik Spoelstra and comes in last out of these 3 finalists. Budenholzer has done a great job of holding the fort down in Milwaukee despite losing Malcolm Brogdon, but unlike Donovan and Nurse, their team success hasn't been surprising. The Bucks do have the best record in the NBA and Budenholzer does get some credit for that. However, they also have the MVP on their team.
Donovan was partially considered for number 1 and has been the shock of the season leading OKC to the playoffs. The Thunder made interesting moves in the 2019 off-season trading Russell Westbrook and Paul George for players like Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous Alexander, and Danilo Gallinari, probably now the 3 best players on OKC leading the team to the 5-seed. They changed the core completely and it's been shocking how they managed to make the playoffs this season and a lot of credit goes to Sam Presti and Billy Donovan.
Talk about shocking the world, the Toronto Raptors have done that this season being the 2nd best team in the East without their Finals MVP. In just his 2nd season as a head coach for the Raptors, Nick Nurse might already be the best coach in the NBA. The Raptors have been unbelievable this season, and this might be the most jaw-dropping stat in basketball, is that the Raptors have a better win percentage this season than last season without Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. Nick Nurse's ability to train the young guys and keep the core so that the Raptors could succeed makes him my Coach of the Year.
Coaches that could've been a finalist: Erik Spoelstra, Frank Vogel, Brad Stevens
Finalists: Anthony Davis, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Rudy Gobert
Gobert's 2019-20 stats: 15.1 PPG, 13.5 RPG, 69.3 FG%, 2.1 BPG, 0.9 SPG,
Similar to Lou Williams, this might seem surprising for a player that has won the DPOY for the past 2 seasons. However, Utah's defense hasn't been as good as they are sitting as the 13th best defensive team in the league, which isn't nearly as good as the Lakers or the Bucks. Rudy also hasn't had his best shot blocking season either. Rudy controls the Jazz defense, but AD and Giannis have been historically good on defense and their teams are better on defense as well.
Davis's 2019-20 stats: 26.7 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 2.6 BPG, 1.5 SPG, 3.2 APG
This DPOY race was extremely hard and I could hardly decide who I think should win the award. AD gets 2.6 blocks per game, which is 2nd in the league, and he can also play on the perimeter with his 1.5 steals per game. Last year, the Lakers had one of the worst defenses in the league and this season, they have the 3rd best, which is why, along with his offensive play, he could've been an MVP finalist. His performance on defense has been stellar, but in my opinion, he barely gets edged out for the award. I won't be surprised though if Davis ends up winning the award.
Giannis's 2019-20 stats: 29.6 PPG, 13.5 RPG, 5.8 APG, 1.0 steal, 1.0 block, 97.7 DRTG,
The key stat to look at when you are considering Giannis for this award is the fact that the Milwaukee Bucks have the best defense and the best record in the NBA. Giannis can guard centers with his height, but is also quick enough to pick pocket guard with his quickness, which means he can guard anyone on the court. He also leads the NBA in defensive rebounds and defensive rating, which is why, in my opinion, Giannis should edge out AD for the DPOY.
A player that could've been a finalist is Ben Simmons
Finalists: James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Lebron James
Also, whoever wins this award will have won it again in their career
Harden's 2019-20 stats: 34.4 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 7.4 APG, 1.9 Steals, 35.4 3-pt%
Harden has continued to be historically good on offense and has led the league in scoring for his 3rd straight year, last done by Kevin Durant and Michael Jordan. However, in MVP considerations, you have to consider team success and the Lakers and the Bucks have the best records in the NBA, while the Rockets have the 4-seed in the West. Harden isn't as good as Lebron and Giannis on defense even though he's been getting better on that end. Harden is one of the greatest offensive talents we've ever seen, but factors like defense, team success, and the fact that he didn't even win it last year with his best season, makes it a slim chance he wins MVP.
Lebron's 2019-20 stats: 25.3 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 10.2 APG, 49.3 FG%, 33.8 3-pt%
Lebron has had an incredible season and has led the Lakers to the best record in their conference. He has led the league in assists for the first time in his career and him and Anthony Davis have been the biggest part of the Lakers this season. However, Lebron has had his lowest scoring season since his rookie season and his only argument for Lebron is that he is doing this at age 35 compared to Harden's 30 and Giannis's 25. Lebron is having one of the best seasons of his career, but he simply just cannot get the award over Giannis.
Giannis's 2019-20 stats: 29.6 PPG, 13.5 RPG, 5.8 APG, 1.0 steal, 1.0 block, 97.7 DRTG
What Giannis has done for the past two seasons have been remarkable. The Greek Freak has had his best year of his career (so far) being one of the best offensive players in the league averaging almost 30 PPG while being 2nd in the league in rebounds, and leading the league in defensive rating and the Bucks to the best defense in the league. The Bucks also have the best record in the NBA and one of the best offenses in the NBA. His ability to play on both ends is a big reason why he is my MVP. If Giannis wins the MVP and DPOY this season, which I think he should, he'll be the 14th back to back MVP in NBA history and the 3rd player in NBA history to win MVP and DPOY in the same season at only 25 years old!
A player that could've been a finalist: Anthony Davis
The awards for the regular season will be announced sometime during the playoffs and these are the players I think deserve to win each of the major 6 awards.
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