2015-16 NBA Awards

As the NBA season winds down we head into awards season. It was a fun and historic year and led to great some awards races. With that said, let’s just get right to it.

MVP

Nominees

Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Lebron James, Kawhi Leonard, Russell Westbrook

This might be one of the best MVP races of at least the past twenty years and at the same time it is a runaway winner, and it should be unanimous. You have Lebron James, THE Lebron James leading his team to a one seed while averaging 25, 7, and 6.8 and he is probably in fourth or 5th in the race. You have Russell Westbrook tying the record for triple doubles in one season and is two rebounds per game away from being the second player ever to average a triple double for a season. At the same time, this is a guy that is playing with another top 5 MVP candidate and their team in third place in their conference and is 12 games back. Kawhi Leonard will be the only one that is a Defensive Player of the Year finalist, he averages over 20 points per games, and is shooting 51/45/88 this season and is the leader of the Spurs team that set the franchise record for wins in a season. None of these guys will get a first place vote. Steph Curry is dominating the MVP race and the league and the runaway MVP. Curry will make the 50/40/90 club by shooting 50/45/90 and is attempting 11 threes per game. Curry makes 5 threes a game, he shoot 5 free throws per game, averages 5 rebounds, and averages just shy of 7 assists per game. You might have heard but he is also the captain of a team now breaking Michael Jordan and his 72-10 record breaking Bulls of the 1995-96 season.

The Winner Is: Steph Curry

Defensive Player of the Year

Candidates

Andre Drummond, Draymond Green, Deandre Jordan, Kawhi Leonard Hassan Whiteside

Jordan, Green and Leonard might soon become the usual suspects as top five candidates for the next five years or more. Drummond would probably finish fifth here as he is mainly just a strong defensive rebounder whereas Whiteside, and Jordan are guys who rebound, and block shots at a higher rate. Whiteside is leading the league in blocks, but Jordan is probably the better defensive player as sometimes Whiteside will sell out for stats and it ends up costing his team. Either way this is a two man race. There is the versatile Green who can guard most people Leonard can, but also guards centers. Then there is the human pterodactyl Leonard snatching balls from mid air and using his freakish length and athleticism to trap players and turn it over. Only Green is a more versatile defender, and Leonard has a higher defensive rating, and more defensive win shares than Green. For a a guy without having the benefit of being 7-foot like many of the rest of the candidates and to be just as qualified for the award point to Leonard grabbing this award.

The winner is: Kawhi Leonard

Rookie of the year

Nominees

Karl Anthony-Towns, Kristaps Porzingis, Nikola Jukic, Devin Booker, Emmanuel Mudiay

This was a strong rookie class and guys like Myles Turner, Justise Winslow, and Jahlil Okafor could all argue to be on the final five. However, the five nominees listed were all more than worthy and it should be fun for the league to watch of all these guys grow. That said, Towns wins this in just as big of a runaway as Curry wins MVP. Towns is averaging a double-double, 18 and 10 and currently has the best three point shooting percentage of the five nominees! Towns can handle the ball, can defend guards when he has to and can post up the best of the big men. He also took over a team with a former number one pick Andrew Wiggins, one of the more hyped rookies in some time, and at this point Towns is the clear leader moving forward. He isn’t just the best rookie, he is climbing the list of the best centers in the league and is probably one of the top five at age 19. Quickly I will mention the Nuggets having two rookie of the year candidates, one a point guard and one a big man can show where this team is going. Also Devin Booker has the chance to be a star and is only going to improve in shooting as he grows. Lastly is the great Porzingis who got all the hype to start but started to fade down the stretch. If he can put on some weight he has similar traits to a guy like Towns and can be able to compete with the likes of him as we move to the future.

The winner is: Karl-Anthony Towns

Sixth Man of the Year

Nominees

Will Barton, Jamal Crawford, Andre Iguodala, Enes Kanter, Tristan Thompson

Manu Ginobili had a firm grasp on the award until a bizarre injury had him missing about 20 games. Iguodala is going to end up missing just shy of 20 games this year, and while at the midway point it was a two man race between the two it is tough to give either the recognition now. With that said as those two went down to injury it was Thompson who went to the bench and thrived in the role. Where guys like Kanter, Crawford, and Barton are strictly in the game to put up points, and only come off of the bench because they do not defend well, Thompson is a guy who defends, blocks, and rebounds. He comes off the bench to make the team flow better, and that is what a true sixth man does.

The winner is: Tristan Thompson

Most Improved

Nominees:

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Steph Curry, Gary Harris, CJ McCallum,  Kemba Walker

It is tough to understand exactly how you qualify for most improved. However, I think all five listed have a good case for why they belong. Antetokounmpo probably will not get much press for this as is his team has declined in record, but his game is becoming one of the more complete games in the league. He improved in essentially every stat across the board, most importantly shooting percentages, and has been given the reigns to be a point guard at times and is the leader in the clubhouse to start at the point next year. Harris is a guy who deserves nomination because he earned his minutes increase, but he can be questioned as a guy who just didn’t have a role in 2015 as an 18 year old rookie, and now he does this year rather a massive improvement of skill. McCollum seems to be the pick to win, but kind of seems like the same situation as Harris. Last year he was one of the more talented bench guards behind Wesley Matthews, now that Matthews is gone, he took on Matthew’s role and is thriving. Walker is in the same role and put up career high numbers. He dealt with losing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Al Jefferson for a big part of the season and led a team many left for dead into the playoffs. In a normal year he is my pick, but how do you take an MVP season, make it so much better and not get all the recognition. Curry takes more shots per game and has an improved shooting percentage across the board. He broke his own record for 3-pointers made in a season in February and improved his scoring average by 6 points per game. He improved in offensive rebounding, rebounding, and steals. He is now recognized as one of the better defensive guards, and to improve that vastly from an MVP season it just seems crazy not to recognize it.

The winner is: Steph Curry

Coach of the Year

Terry Stotts, Gregg Popovich, Brad Stevens, Steve Clifford, Luke Walton

It is tough to not put Steve Kerr on the list, but really how Walton started this season being thrown in to coach a championship deserves the nomination. I am sure Steve would tell you himself to nominate Walton this year. That said, due to the fact that he isn’t a head coach currently he is out. Also, shout out to Clifford, Stotts, and Stevens. Those are three guys who took teams that nobody saw being where they are today and got them there. Clifford had two of his potential best players, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Al Jefferson miss significant time on a roster that wasn’t very impressive and he got them into the playoffs. Many saw the Blazers tanking after losing Lamarcus Aldridge, and Stotts has that crew in the playoffs, and for the second straight year Stevens has the Celtics playing above their heads and in the playoffs. That all said, Popovich is the best coach in the league and when he sets a franchise record for wins he takes the crown. Pop is the master of picking times to rest players, distributing minutes and finding big contributions from guys like Boban Marjanovic, and Jonathan Simmons.

All-NBA First Team

Steph Curry, G

Russell Westbrook, G

Kawhi Leonard, F

Lebron James, F

Kevin Durant, F

All-NBA Second Team

Chris Paul, G

Kyle Lowry, G

Paul George, F

Draymond Green, F


DeMarcus Cousins, F

All-NBA Third Team

John Wall, G

James Harden, G

Klay Thompson, G

Anthony Davis, F
Andre Drummond, F

 

All-Rookie First Team

Emmanuel Mudiay, G

Devin Booker, G

Kristaps Porzingas, F

Nikola Jukic, F

Karl-Anthony Towns, F

 

All-Rookie Second Team

Josh Richardson, G

Justise Winslow, G

Trey Lyles, F

Myles Turner, F

Jahlil Okafor, F

 

All-Defense First Team

Steph Curry, G

Klay Thompson, G

Kawhi Leonard, F
Draymond Green, F

Hassan Whiteside, F

All-Defense Second team

Chris Paul, G

Danny Green, G

Paul Millsap, F

Andre Drummond, F

Deandre Jordan, F

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