As we approach the end of the regular season in two weeks there are important games still to play for playoff positioning. Who will take MVP, Rookie of the Year and Coach of the Year? All of these and more as my second to last article of the regular season is here.
MVP: Heading into the season I predicted that Giannis Antetokounmpo would take this award. Despite having a great season, it wasn’t enough as the Bucks look out of sorts on offense without a healthy Jabari Parker for most of the season. Russell Westbrook is close to averaging a triple-double for a second straight season, even with Paul George it looks like the Thunder made the wrong move trading for Carmelo Anthony and will cost them not getting out of the second round of playoffs. LeBron James is having his best statistical season on offense as a pro despite being his 15th year. His defense and the Cavs record won’t put him close in this race. Damian Lillard has come out of nowhere to be in the discussion putting up monster numbers since the all-star break to will Portland to what looks like the third seed out West come playoff time. Coming in third in this race is a welcoming site for a superstar player that not many talk about hats off to Lillard for making it interesting.
The two-horse race comes down to Anthony Davis and James Harden. In a closely voted contest Davis will come in second. Davis has been on an absolute tear since De Marcus Cousins was lost for the year (Pour one out) and has New Orleans a surprise contender to upset whoever they play in round one. Davis has put up even better numbers than Lillard on a worse team and close to the same record that deserves all the credit and first-place votes that come with it. Your 2017-2018 MVP is James Harden; Houston has the best record in the league cause of smashing teams all year long and with his new running mate Chris Paul. Houston is clicking on all cylinders all thanks to Harden shooting with high efficiency from the field, high free throw attempts and passing like the genius he has shown the last few seasons.
Rookie of the Year: This award is a little more straight forward with clearly two players ahead of the rest That is Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz and Ben Simmons of the 76ers. You can go either way on who deserves it more there are a couple of factors involved here, Utah would be dead in the water and not even sniffing the playoff hunt with Rudy Gobert missing time twice this season with knee problems. Mitchell has carried the offense night in and night out for a Utah team that needs it. On the other side the 76ers have talented players on offense but sputter out when the offense stagnates in crunch time. Teams are praying Simmons takes jumpers, while the defense focuses on players like Joel Embiid, JJ Redick and Robert Covington. This race will come down to stats vs how important a rookie is to their respective team. In a small margin of victory Ben Simmons will take home the trophy while Philly battles for playoff positioning to even put them as a favorite in the first round.
Coach of the Year: This award has four real candidates. In Utah Quinn Snyder has taken a roster who lost their best player and still should make the playoffs, Terry Stotts is coaching the hottest in the league since the all-star break, Dwayne Casey has finally turned around a young bench that used to be unreliable into a Buzzsaw demolishing second units each night add the development of De Marr Derozan going to another level with his game this season and were getting closer. Mike D’Antoni is your coach of the year, with a better roster than last year and Chris Paul dominating with Harden out on the floor the Rockets are a favorite to win the title. PJ Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute have been great additions to a roster that needed depth. D’Antoni looks like he is at the peak of his powers and deservingly so. For his luck if he doesn’t face the Spurs in round one Houston will face Golden State in the Western Conference Finals.
Your worst coach in the league award goes to Dave Joerger of Sacramento who couldn’t ever keep a consistent rotation, stunting player development in a season where that was the focus going in. Seasons like this remind Kings fans that nothing will change even with decent young talent that should develop into good players. Least valuable player award goes to (Drum Roll please) Bobby Portis. Anytime you break the jaw of the best player on your team and a ball hog that plays terrible defense you deserve the award of least valuable and a one-way ticket close to being out of the league in two seasons.