This year’s MVP race has been the closest one in recent memory. Throughout the 82 game season there have been 5 players that have really been in consideration; Anthony Davis, Russel Westbrook, Lebron James, James Harden, and Steph Curry, however most of the year its gone back and forth between Curry and Harden. You can make a great case for either, but of course there can only be one. That one is James Harden.
Harden has carried his team this year to 2nd place in the West and the best record Houston has had since 1997. Dwight Howard has only played 40 games this season and the Rockets have posted a winning record without him. Howard is the only player on the Rockets other than Harden to score more than 30 points in a game this season, which he did one time back in November. Harden has scored or assisted on 57% of the Rockets points this season and has stepped up on defense as well. It was a close race but you have to give the credit to Harden for doing so much with a lot less talent around him that Steph Curry has.
Rookie of the Year
Once Jabari Parker went down the rookie of the year was assumed to belong to Andrew Wiggins and it does. It’s been a quiet year for rookies, but Wiggins has been a stand out this season and has improved each month as the season went on.
Defensive Player of the Year
Defensive Player of the year was also another tight race. Big guys typically have the edge here and Deandre Jordan showed us why this season. He averages 10.1 defensive rebounds along with 2.2 blocks and has been a consummate rim protector for the Clippers. Their success this year defensively is all about Jordan’s rebounding ability and his willingness to control the paint defensively.
Sixth Man of the Year
Sixth man of the year was pretty much a runaway this year for Isiah Thomas. Even splitting time in Phoenix and Boston his role off the bench has been key for both teams, especially the Celtics down the stretch. He averaged 15 points a game coming off the bench for the Suns and turned that up even more in his 21 games in Boston to 19 points a game along with 5 assists and 4 rebounds. Thomas came in and provided a spark to the Celtics who clinched a spot in this year’s playoffs
Most Improved Player
Jimmy Butler as the most improved player is another runaway award. Butler made his first all-star team this season and has helped the Bulls continue to stay afloat a midst all of Derrick Rose’s injuries. Butler has always been a superb defender but this year the Bulls have been able to rely on him offensively. Jimmy Butler increased his scoring, rebounds, assists, field goal percentage, three point percentage, and free throw percentage this year all while still averaging the same amount of minutes as he did last year. This guy will be getting paid soon.
Coach of the Year
Coach of the year has to be Mike Budenholzer of the Atlanta Hawks. A disciple of Greg Popovich, Budenholzer has implemented team basketball to the Hawks and has them as the #1 team in the East. He has gotten guys to buy in to his system and style of play and shown the league you can be successful without a true superstar.
Executive of the Year
And the award everyone cares about aka the Executive of the year award would have to go to David Griffin. He brought Lebron back in, made the trade of Wiggins for Kevin Love, and then went after complimentary pieces JR. Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Timothy Mosgov. All gutsy moves which will provide the Cavs the opportunity to win this season.
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