(OPINION) NBA Award Prediction


The Maurice Podoloff Trophy, which is given to the winner of the Most Valuable Player Award at the end of the season. (Photo Credit: Jasper Wu)

(COVINGTON, LA.)— The first quarter of the NBA season has quickly come and we are looking at my top five prospects for the NBA awards. These four awards are always the most anticipated and debated about, although some races are closer than others. However, only one quarter has gone by this season and things are suspect to change.

MVP (Most Valuable Player):

  1. Stephen Curry– Curry is currently on the best team in the NBA while also leading the league in scoring with 29.5 points per game. Currently, Curry is out with groin strain. This season he is on track to break his own record for the most three-pointers in a season (previously 402).  It looks like he will shoot for 426 this year, a groundbreaking achievement. He is twelfth in the league in assists, averaging 6.1 assists per game. This is only one assist less than his average last year. Back in the 2015-16 season, Curry won the first ever unanimous MVP award, and this year his numbers are virtually the same, only averaging a half of a point less. If Curry continues to play the way he has been, he will be on track for his third MVP award.
  2. Joel Embiid– Embiid is playing extremely well right now, averaging 28 points per game, which is 6 more than his previous career high. Embiid has put up 30 points and 10 rebounds in 9 of his last 15 games. The last player to do that throughout the first 15 games was Wilt Chamberlain. He is averaging 13.5 rebounds as well, which is a career high for him. With the addition to Jimmy Butler, the 76ers have a chance to obtain one of the best records in the East and will give Embiid a high chance to win his first MVP award.
  3. Anthony Davis– Davis has not had his best year with his scoring only averaging 25 points per game, but he will soon pick up. This is his best year so far on defense, averaging career highs of 13 rebounds and 3 blocks. He also has obtained another career-high of five assists a game. He has pulled together to make himself a more complete player this year. His three-point shot is

    Anthony Davis in the zone (Photo Credit- Sports Illustrated).

    at the best it’s ever been, and he is attempting shots more than ever. If he can bring the Pelicans to a top 4 seed in the high-powered West, he has one of the top chances to win his first ever MVP for himself and the Pelicans organization.

  4. Giannis Antetokounmpo– Leading a mediocre Bucks teams to the second seed behind the Raptors is impressive as it is. Averaging three more rebounds than he ever has and more assists make up for him scoring a point and a half less than he did last year. He is shooting above 60% from two-point shots when taking more than 16 a game is unheard of. The Bucks have yet to lose a game to a team with a losing record and the games they have lost have only been by a total of 21 points. Their worst loss came to a 10-3 Blazers team by 15 points. If Antetokounmpo improves his scoring up to around 28 points per game he will be in the race at the end of the year for the award.
  5. Kawhi Leonard– Leonard is having his best season since he came second in MVP voting back in 2016-17 season. His team is first in the East, and have the best record in the NBA at 12-2. He is averaging 24 points, 8 rebounds, and a career-high of 3 assists per game. If Leonard’s team was not first in the NBA he would not be on this list, but leading his team to the best record earns him a spot.

 

DPOY (Defensive Player Of the Year):

  1. Anthony Davis– Davis has a chance to win MVP and DPOY, which would be only the fifth time someone has ever done that in the history of the NBA. He is 7th in rebounding, averaging 13 a game, and third in blocks by averaging 3 per contest. Anthony Davis was a first-team defender last year and was runner-up for the award as well. If he continues to do so well on defense he will capture this award for the first time in his young career. Per 100 possessions he averages 4 blocks and 16 rebounds a game, which is first in both categories. If Davis can keep people out of the paint and make opponents shoot tough shots while keeping his stats up, he will lock the award up.
  2. Draymond Green– Draymond’s hustle and intensity will always keep him in the running for the award, but playing as an undersized power forward and averaging a block and two steals a game is very impressive. The average power forward is 6’10” and Green is 6’7″. Per 100 possessions he is averaging 3.5 steals and two blocks. He would be the second NBA player since steals started being stats in the 1973-74 season.
  3. Kawhi Leonard– Leonard has always been one of the best defenders in the league. His hands are insanely big which helps him get steals. He is looking to win his third DPOY which will put

    Joel Embiid hits a three against the Milwaukee Bucks (photo by: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports).

    himself into the elite category. Only 3 other players have the won the award three or more times. He would be the first ever person who is not a center to accomplish winning it three times. he is averaging 2.5 steals and 1 block per 100 possessions. he might have the steal of the year, with a no-look steal.

  4. Joel Embiid– Embiid’s energy, like Green, will always put him up in the top of defensive players. Embiid’s ability to rebound, being fifth in the league, also helps his case for winning the award. He is sixth in the league in blocks, averaging a little over 2.1 blocks per game.
  5. Rudy Gobert– Gobert has a chance to win the award in back to back years. He is averaging 3.5 blocks and a steal and a half per 100 possessions. He is even nicknamed “The Stifle Tower” because of how tall he is. Even if Gobert does not block the shot, he will alter its trajectory. This does not get included in the stats, but it makes it much harder on the opponents to score. He is also fifth in rebounding, averaging 13.5 rebounds.

 

ROY (Rookie Of the Year):

  1. Luka Doncic– One of the most hyped players coming into the NBA since Lebron James, Luka Doncic has impressed all. He is the leading scorer for the Mavericks, averaging 19.6 points per game, which also the most for a rookie. He is averaging 6.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists as well. Doncic is shooting 55% from two-pointers and 39% from three-pointers. If he keeps up these stats, his only competition for the award will be Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks.
  2. Trae Young– Young is on the worst team in the NBA, but he is the lone spot of the team. He has almost double the assists than any other rookie averaging 7.7 assists per game. He is averaging the third most points per game in the 2018 class, 15.3 . Young has not shot well in his first twenty games. If he ups his shooting percentages he will be the clear leader in points for rookies. As of now he will not win the award, but if he can up his points to 20+ a game, he has a much higher chance.

    Trae Young going up for a lay up against the Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo: Tony Dejak (AP).

  3. Deandre Ayton– The 7’1″ 250-pound center is the only rookie averaging a double-double with 17 points and 10.5 rebounds a game. Behind Louisiana native Mitchell Robinson, Ayton has the highest field goal percentage among rookies while averaging the second most points. Ayton has a chance to win the award based off of stats only, as the suns are one of the worst teams in the league.
  4. Allonzo Trier– Trier is by far the most surprising rookie on this list, and he came onto the scene as an undrafted rookie. He is only averaging 11.5 points per game but might be the biggest story of the season. Going undrafted after 4 years at Arizona University, his career high was 25 points against our own New Orleans Pelicans.
  5. Jaren Jackson Jr.- Jackson is the only person on this list with a team with a winning record. Maybe one of the most surprising teams of the year, the Grizzlies have one of the most talented rookies of the year. His team is fourth in the West and one game out of first place, Jackson is the teams starting power forward and is making the second biggest impact on his team behind Mike Conley. Jackson is averaging an impressive 13 points five rebounds and 2 blocks per game. He is shooting 39 percent from three and 57 percent from two.

 

MIP (Most Improved Player):

  1. Zach Lavine– Lavine is averaging a career-high of 25.5 points per game on the year. His career average is only 14.9 points per game.  He is crushing all of his career highs in every category except three-point shooting, every other stat is higher than it has been the rest of his career. Ninth in scoring is the most impressive feet his has accomplished this season. The Bulls are ten games under .500, but if Lavine can get a little more help than he has right now, the Bulls still have a chance to make the playoffs.
  2. Jamal Murray–  Murray is the starting point guard of the third team in the West and averaging a career-high 17.5 points, 5 assists, and 4.5 rebounds per game. His shooting percentages are not where they should be at, but it is the intangibles that put him on this list. In a game this season against the Celtics, Murray scored a career-high of 48 points on one of the best point guards in the league, Kyrie Irving.

    Kemba Walker #15 of the Charlotte Hornets handles the ball against the Oklahoma City Thunder on January 13, 2018 at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)

  3. Pascal Siakam– Siakam has improved every single stat from his previous two years in the league, but he is the energy of the first seed in the East, the Raptors. He was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week for the first time in his career. He is averaging 15 points per game while Lowry and Leonard are the two stars of the team, but Siakam is the sole of this squad. During the week he averaged 20 points per game and won player of the week the Raptors went 3-0.
  4. Nikola Vucevic– Vucevic is averaging his first 20-10 (points and rebounds) of his career. The Magic have somewhat been a surprise this season being the sixth seed in the East with a 10-10 record. He is shooting a career-high in every shooting category this season compared to the rest of his career. The big man is shooting 85% from the free throw line which is fifth best among centers. He has had two games of 30 points and 15 rebounds this year.
  5. Kemba Walker– The biggest surprise of the season is definitely Kemba Walker. He has the only 60 point game of the season and followed it up by a 43 point performance. He is the first person to score 100+ points in a two-game span since Kobe Bryant. He is fourth in scoring averaging 28.2 points per game, 9 more than his career average. He is also having a career high in assist at 6.6 per game and bumped his rebounding numbers up to 4.2 a game, his most since 2015.

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