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NBA Awards Predictions

With the regular season coming to a close tomorrow and the playoffs starting on Saturday, ISH NBA writers Hank Stichter and Daniel Zimmermann give their predictions for the NBA regular season awards as well as picks to win the NBA Finals.

 

 

 

Rookie of the Year

DZ: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Philadelphia 76ers

2013-2014 Stats:  16.7 PPG,  6.2 RPG, 6.3  APG, 1.9 SPG

Michael Carter-Williams has taken the league by storm this year. This young determined guard has proved his doubters wrong. Although leading your team to be the second worst team in the league is no accomplishment, MCW has been one of the only bright spots in this draft class. While players like Anthony Bennett and Ben McLemore have not lived up to (lofty) expectations, players like Carter-Williams, Victor Oladipo, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Mason Plumlee have all taken advantage of their opportunities and shined brightly. Michael Carter-Williams has really been a jackpot for the 76ers, who were questioned after trading their All-Star Point Guard in Jrue Holiday to New Orleans for Nerlens Noel, who has not played a minute this season, and a first round pick. MCW has paid off for Philly and so will that first round pick they will have this coming draft. That pick paired with their guaranteed top 5 pick and the duo of Noel and MCW have Philly thinking success as soon as next season.

 

HS: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Philadelphia 76ers

2013-2014 Stats:  16.7 PPG,  6.2 RPG, 6.3  APG, 1.9 SPG

Last year after the NBA Draft I felt like the 76ers had gotten the best prospect of the draft in Nerlens Noel… I had no idea it would be his teammate. Carter-Williams came in and immediately made an impact in the league by winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week award in the very first week of the season. His length at the point guard position gave many comparisons to the great Magic Johnson. He exerts his size well, grabbing more rebounds than the average point guard and racking up a number of steals. He exceeded expectations this season and deserves this award more than anyone other rookie, no doubt about it. He is the only bright thing to come from Philly this season.

 

Sixth Man of the Year

photo via nba.com
photo via nba.com

DZ: Jamal Crawford, SG, Los Angeles Clippers

2013-2014 Stats: 18.5 PPG, 3.2 APG, 2.3 RPG, 37% 3PFG

 

Jamal Crawford is one of the most reliable players in the NBA. Coming off the bench and averaging nearly 19 points is no small feat. To put it in perspective, his 18.5 PPG off the bench is a higher per game scoring average than the leading scorer on the entire Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers,  Detroit Pistons, Chicago Bulls, Memphis Grizzlies, Utah Jazz, San Antonio Spurs, and Denver Nuggets leading scorers. Just take a moment to let that soak in. Averaging more than the leading scorers of 10 NBA teams, 3 of which are playoff teams, off the bench is a testament to the Clippers bench mob and Jamal Crawford’s skill. Finding another player that spins their teams direction more than Crawford is tough, and I challenge you to make a case for them in the comments section.

 

HS: Taj Gibson, PF, Chicago Bulls

2013-2014 Stats: 13.1 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.8 BPG

All though Gibson may not have quite the shiny numbers that Crawford has, I choose him because I believe he has a bigger impact for the Bulls than Crawford has on the Clippers. Another season without Derrick Rose for the Bulls, yet somehow they still manage to make the playoffs where as the Clippers could make the playoffs easy without the presence of Jamal Crawford. Gibson plays his role extremely well in Chicago; he is very productive when he is in the game and allows the other bigs (Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer) to rest. He keeps the Bulls out of foul trouble also, with no players averaging more than 3.1 fouls per game. He isn’t elite in any category but he scores, rebounds, and blocks extremely well for the minutes he is given per game.

Most Improved Player

photo via nytimes.com
photo via nytimes.com

DZ: Lance Stephenson, SG, Indiana Pacers

2013-2014 Stats: 13.8 PPG, 4.6 APG, 7.2 RPG

2012 – 2013 Stats: 8.8 PPG, 2.9 APG, 3.9 RPG

 

While Hank’s pick of Eric Bledsoe is a great pick, I feel that Lance Stephenson has had a bigger effect on his team than Bledsoe this season. This is mostly because of the time missed by Bledsoe due to his knee injury. Stephenson has come from being a benchwarmer the first two seasons of his career to being a All Star snubbed starting guard, who is looking to capitalize on a huge contract from either the Pacers or some other team. Lance Stephenson is tied for the lead in the league with 4 triple doubles and has really shined in his starting role with the title contender Pacers. His most improved player award should pad his chances even more at the contract opportunities him and his agent will have so many of this offseason as an unrestricted free agent.

 

HS: Eric Bledsoe, PG, Phoenix Suns

2013-2014 Stats: 18.0 PPG,  5.5 APG,  4.8 RPG

2012 – 2013 Stats: 8.5 PPG, 3.1 APG, 3.0 RPG

Bledsoe may not have been the most publicized off season move but I definitely would say it was the most impactful, maybe besides Al Jefferson. Who would have thought that the Suns would have even had the slightest chance of making the playoffs this year. I know now they are out of contention but they still have a winning record which would put them in 5th place had they been in the East. We have seen an improvement in almost every single statistical category this season compared to last season for Bledsoe. He averages almost 10 more points as well as about 1.5 more assists and rebounds. Not only is he the most improved player but he allowed the Suns to be one of the most improved teams. Since the addition of Bledsoe the Suns have won 22 more games than last season. The Suns should look at this season as hope for the future and not as a failure due to the near make for the playoffs.

Defensive Player of the year

DZ: Anthony Davis, PF/C, New Orleans Pelicans

2013-2014 Stats: 10.0 RPG, 2.8 BPG, 1.3 SPG,

 

Anthony Davis is headed to the rafters in this league very quickly, and his non-ROY honors should begin with this one. The already famous brow man has some impressive numbers this year, and one number jumps out to me.  His 3.2 opponent FG made at rim per game is a key stat in measuring his defensive prowess. If you are confused as to what this number means, let me break it down. Every game, Anthony Davis only surrenders just over 3 field goals deep in the paint. This is pretty important when it comes down to defensive effectiveness. While defense is not the main factor in Anthony Davis’s game, it is the most crucial and also has had the heaviest effect of all in the league.

 

HS: DeAndre Jordan, C, Los Angeles Clippers

2013-2014 Stats: 13.7 RPG, 2.5 BPG, 1.0 SPG

It is pretty much expected of you to be good at basketball when you have the last name Jordan. DeAndre has been more than good this season for the Clippers. As well as his breathtaking dunks, he is a large defensive presence to the team and is also the best in the league. He leads the league in rebounds at 13.7 per game, as well as being 3rd in the league in blocked shots. I have been very opposed to the winner of this award the past 2 years (Marc Gasol and Tyson Chandler), neither of them were top 10 in any of the defensive categories, except Chandler, who was 8th in rebounding. Statistically speaking, I don’t see who else should be the defensive player of the year this year.

Most valuable Player

DZ: Kevin Durant, SF, Oklahoma City Thunder

2013-2014 Stats: 31.9 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 5.5 APG, 1.3 SPG, 3 triple doubles, League Leading Scorer

 

for a detailed look at why I think Kevin Durant is the MVP, take a look at my article here.

 

HS: Kevin Durant, SF, Oklahoma City Thunder

2013-2014 Stats: 31.9 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 5.5 APG, 1.3 SPG, 3 triple doubles, League Leading Scorer

Honestly I think this one is pretty much locked up. Durant is leading the league in scoring, and by a ton also. Carmelo Anthony is 2nd place on that list and he averages 4.5 points less than Durant. Obviously you have to be more than just a scorer to win MVP which is why I feel like Durant hasn’t won it yet. KD is averaging 3.8 points more than last season as well. He really stepped up his all-around game this past year; he has always been a pretty good rebounder but he is averaging a whole assist more than last year, giving him 3 major categories where he is averaging 5 or more. He has also lead the Thunder to one of the top spots in the West once again. All in all I feel like the MVP should go to the best player on the best team, and I feel like the Thunder is the best team, and Durant is the best player.

Finals Champion

photo via http://basketballwallpapershd.com/
photo via http://basketballwallpapershd.com/

DZ: Oklahoma City Thunder

Regular season record: 59-23

The Thunder have finally peaked. Despite some roster changes that one might think would weaken their team since last season, the Thunder are ready to advance back to the finals that they have tasted just 2 years ago. After a disappointing loss in the second round to the Memphis Grizzlies last season, Kevin Durant and company have been on a tear to get back to what once was. I truly believe that the Thunder and their stars can lead them back to the Finals and topple the opponent this year, unlike a few years back.

 

HS: Oklahoma City Thunder

Regular season record: 59-23

Until the Westbrook injury in the playoffs last year, I thought the Thunder were going to win it all last year. Well now they are back in a position to win again, injury free. I don’t think anyone in the West can stop them except maybe the Clippers, but other than the Clips I think that OKC will be able to clean up the Conference pretty well. As for the championship it will be a tough fought battle between them and either the Heat or the Pacers, but once again I just don’t think you can stop this house that Durant built. They now have enough experience, chemistry, and talent to topple any team they face.

Finals MVP

 

DZ: Kevin Durant, SF, Oklahoma City Thunder

Just as I think that the Thunder will take their skills back to the Finals, I think the NBA MVP to be will lead them there. Durant has shown an ability to show up in big games this season and why would that stop in the playoffs? Durant now does not have James Harden to soak up all the shots this Finals series, which could prove wonders for Durant’s numbers and his success. Durant is my pick for Finals MVP because I think he can carry his MVP play into the postseason and lead the Thunder to their first Finals victory in franchise history since 1979.

 

HS:  Kevin Durant, SF, Oklahoma City Thunder

As I said before in my argument for Durant for MVP, he is the best player on the best team. He is the heart and soul of this OKC powerhouse and is well deserving of the MVP if the Thunder do indeed win it all. The Durantula is having a monster season and I don’t think it will stop until he has a ring around his finger and a big shiny trophy to accommodate it. The Thunder is Durant’s team and I don’t think anyone can argue this otherwise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stats via espn,go.com and nba.com

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