The NBA’s upcoming season will be very intriguing to say the least. Durant will be a Warrior, Wade will be a Bull, and Kobe and Duncan will not be playing. With the NBA so shaken up at the moment, it’s very hard to predict which players will come away with individual awards this season, but I have a good idea.
NBA Most Valuable Player: Russell Westbrook
Honorable Mentions: LeBron James, Paul George
Remember two years ago when Kevin Durant missed a majority of the season for Oklahoma City due to injury and Russell Westbrook averaged more than 28 points, 8.5 assists and 7 rebounds per game? Imagine that….but even better. With the departure of Kevin Durant, Westbrook is set to put on a season for the ages. Not only do I see Westbrook leading the league in both scoring and triple doubles, but I also see him finishing top 5 in both assists and steals.
Westbrook’s amazing season, combined with the support of players like Steven Adams, Victor Oladipo, and Enes Kanter, should keep the Thunder as a top 4 team in the Western Conference. The Thunder may not be able to get their revenge against the Warriors, but OKC fans should be pumped to witness the onslaught that Westbrook will put on the league this season.
NBA Rookie of the Year: Brandon Ingram
Honorable Mentions: Ben Simmons, Jamal Murray, Kris Dunn
A majority of people probably believe Ben Simmons will win this award, but I think different. While Simmons is perhaps the most versatile player in this rookie class, he still lacks one skill which is very important in today’s game: the ability to shoot the ball. Simmons’ inability to consistently hit jump shots limits his ability to score, which could be a problem considering the last seven rookies to win the award led all rookies in scoring.
With this in mind, I’m picking Brandon Ingram to be this year’s top rookie. While Ingram is still adding muscle, he’s already a very good shooter and good isolation scorer. While Ingram’s defense was inconsistent at times in college, his quick feet and incredibly long wingspan gives him great potential as a defensive player. The Lakers will not sniff any type of a championship this year, but fans in LA will be delighted to watch their up and coming star develop and flourish throughout the season.
NBA Defensive Player of the Year: Draymond Green
Honorable Mentions: Kawhi Leonard, Deandre Jordan, Hassan Whiteside
Kawhi Leonard could very well come away with this award for a third year in a row, but for all intents and purposes, I’m picking Draymond Green to finally come out on top this year. Now that the Warriors have added Durant to their already impressive roster, Green will not get as many touches on offense as he did in previous years. However, this also means he’ll be able to focus even more on his defense. With the loss of defensive center Andrew Bogut, Green will have to carry more responsibility on the defensive side of the ball, and I think he’ll accept the challenge.
NBA Sixth Man of the Year: Jamal Crawford
Honorable Mentions: Andre Igoudala, Cory Joseph, Enes Kanter (if he comes off the bench)
A rather safe pick, but can you blame me? Having won this award three times already, Crawford has firmly established himself as the most dangerous Sixth Man in the league. The Clippers have had bad luck with injuries the past few years, but Crawford has stayed relatively healthy, despite his age. I expect Crawford to play like his normal self, making a big impact for a Clippers team that desperately needs his scoring off the bench.
NBA Most Improved Player: Steven Adams
Honorable Mentions: Emmanuel Mudiay, Jabari Parker, Zach LaVine, Mario Hezonja
This is probably the hardest award to predict because there are countless players who could win it. However, Adams gets the edge thanks to his largely increased role and his production over the course of last year’s playoffs. Adams’ stellar play in the post-season was a big reason why the Thunder were one win away from making it to the NBA Finals. With Durant gone, Adams will have to shoulder more of the load for the Thunder. Adams has all the potential to be an All-Star center, and this year that potential will flourish.
NBA Coach of the Year: Tom Thibodeau
Honorable Mentions: Steve Kerr, Brad Stevens, Billy Donovan
With all of the success the Warriors are likely to have this year, Steve Kerr could easily win this award back to back years. However, since the Warriors are expected to be a team unlike the league has ever seen, it’ll be extremely difficult for Kerr to exceed expectations. Meanwhile, the Timberwolves are loaded with young talent, though they finished with the third worst record in the West last season. But if there’s one guy who can turn this team into contender, it’s Tom Thibodeau. Thibodeau’s known for his great defensive mind and his expertise will significantly help a team who was the 8th worst in opponent points per game last season. Combining Thibodeau’s smarts with future superstars in Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, I believe Minnesota will make the playoffs for the first time since 2004.