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Wednesday, April 17, 2024
Anthony Davis

Pelicans F/C Anthony Davis was nearly the only unanimous pick by the alligatorSports NBA Awards Selection Panel. He's predicted to be the NBA Defensive Player of the Year by three-fourths of the panel.

The end of the 2017-18 NBA season is quickly approaching. With three games of the Finals already in the books, we can begin to shift our focus to the NBA Awards on June 25. Sports writers Chris O’Brien, Skyler Lebron, Alanis Thames and Mark Stine provide their takes on who should win the major categories.  

Most Valuable Player

Chris: This is a tough one because I think James Harden will win it, but I think LeBron James should win it. I mean, seriously, LBJ is from another planet. Need evidence? Just watch this year’s playoffs. But Harden will be the one that walks away with the award.

Skyler: Every year we think another player might take the throne as best all-around, and every year, LeBron James proves us wrong. He carried a team that blew itself up at the trade deadline to his eighth-consecutive Finals. ‘Nuff said.

Alanis: LeBron James should win MVP. He’s averaging 34.6 points in the playoffs and is playing at an insane level. He has carried a subpar team to the Finals when it shouldn’t have even made it out of the first round. Not to mention he’s doing this at age 33.

Mark: Congratulations to James Harden for claiming the scoring title, but LeBron James is this year’s MVP. He’s played in every game this season and at every position for the Cavaliers. He’s also averaged 27.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 9.1 assists despite swapping out half his team mid-season.

Rookie of the Year

Chris: Give Jayson Tatum some credit for closing the gap between him and the two frontrunners in the playoffs, but you just can’t ignore Ben Simmons here. Donovan Mitchell made a hell of a run, but Simmons almost averaged a triple-double with 15.8 points, 8.1 boards and 8.2 assists per game. C’mon now.

Skyler: I look at who was most important to their squad in their rookie year. Without Ben Simmons, I still believe Philly could make it to the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference. Donovan Mitchell took the reins of an average-at-best Utah squad to the second round in the tougher Western Conference.  

Alanis: This should go to Donovan Mitchell. There’s no denying that Ben Simmons balled this season. But Mitchell did too, and he balled harder than Simmons in the playoffs. And with less help, Mitchell managed 24.4 points and only 2.9 turnovers against tougher competition. Give the true rookie the award.

Mark: In his first season, Ben Simmons put together 12 triple-double performances and nearly averaged a triple-double. He also had four 15-assist games, and he averaged 8.1 rebounds.

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Most Improved Player

Chris: In a race that isn’t even close, Victor Oladipo. Any other year, this would be a really tough call because this field is DEEP beyond Oladipo with names like Domantas Sabonis, Clint Capela and Spencer Dinwiddie. But Oladipo will win this one and rightfully so.

Skyler: Clint Capela is gonna get paaaaaid. While Chris Paul was on the sidelines, Capela provided a good running mate for Harden and became a defensive anchor and great lob-catcher. For Most Improved, I look at who can sustain it past this season, and it’s Capela.

Alanis: Without a doubt, this goes to Victor Oladipo. He has improved almost every aspect of his game. And let’s not forget he was one game away from knocking LeBron out of the playoffs. Oladipo still has so much room for growth, and it’s about time people start putting some respect on his name.

Mark: Victor Oladipo has this award locked up, but look at Nikola Jokic. He averaged 1.8 more points than a year ago (18.5), 0.9 more rebounds (10.7) and 1.2 more assists (6.1), all of which are career-high marks. He also improved his three-point percentage from .324 to .396. There’s virtually no offensive weakness in this 6-foot-10 center.

Defensive Player of the Year

Chris: If not for injuries, this would be Rudy Gobert’s award to lose. But only 56 games? It feels wrong going against him because of that, but I am. Can I go with the entire Celtics team here? Horford, Morris, Smart and the gang? No? Dang, give me Anthony Davis.

Skyler: Anthony Davis has to win something after the year he had. Without his partner in crime, DeMarcus Cousins, Davis carried the Pels to the second round. Oh, and he also led the league in blocks at 2.6 per game. That’s pretty good.

Alanis: Anthony Davis had an MVP-caliber season and is deserving of this award. But defensively, how would he have looked if Demarcus Cousins didn’t go down? I like Joel Embiid here just because he consistently gave us monster blocks and came back from injury to give us more huge rejections in the playoffs.

Mark: On March 11 against the Utah Jazz, Anthony Davis registered a triple-double with 10 blocks. He led the NBA with 2.6 blocks per contest and also averaged 1.5 steals. Beast.

Sixth Man of the Year

Chris: This is by far the toughest pick for me. With all due respect to Eric Gordon, you just have to hand it to Lou Williams – 22.6 points and 5.3 assists per game. Gordon might have more of a hand in his team’s success, but this is Lou Will’s.

Skyler: I’m under the notion that your team has to make the playoffs to win an award of this caliber. For that reason, Eric Gordon takes the cake. Another player that consistently stepped up while Chris Paul was gone for a chunk of the season. He works beautifully off the ball as well.

Alanis: Lou Williams’ value off the bench this season cannot be stressed enough. Minus Blake Griffin, he led the Clippers in scoring and assists with career-highs in both. This could easily go to Eric Gordon or Fred VanVleet. But Williams played more regular-season games, played more minutes, scored more and assisted more than both of them. No-brainer.

Mark: How is Lou Williams coming off the bench? He averaged 22.6 points per game last season along with 5.3 assists. He’ll give you quality defensive minutes as well, even though he’s not an elite defender like teammates Patrick Beverley and Avery Bradley.

Coach of the Year

Chris: Call me biased because I’m a Celtics fan, but Brad Stevens should win this award and it shouldn’t be an argument. Lose your best two players and still come four minutes and a few missed shots away from beating the greatest basketball player ever? That’s the Brad Stevens effect.

Skyler: I want to go with Dwayne Casey just because he got fired despite being a finalist, something I haven’t seen since George Karl with the Nuggets. Jokes aside, who even expected Utah to make the playoffs this season? No you didn’t, stop lying. Quin Snyder takes this one home for me.

Alanis: Dwayne Casey coached his team to the best record in the East and its best in franchise history. And the man gets fired because DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry couldn’t get it done against arguably the best player in the history of the game? C’mon. Casey for Coach of the Year.

Mark: Mike D’Antoni’s additions of Chris Paul, PJ Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute helped make the Houston Rockets arguably the NBA’s best team when healthy. They improved from 55 wins last year to 65 wins in 2017-18. They also went from the league’s 18th-best defensive rating to the sixth-highest rating and improved from 21st in defensive rebounding percentage to 3rd, all while finishing second in points per game.

@THEChrisOB

@SkylerLebron

@alanisthames

@mstinejr

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