By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
My NBA Season Awards & NBA Playoff Predictions
This has been a season filled with injury after injury in the NBA to superstar players. Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, and Paul George had season ending injuries and all three of their teams didn’t make the playoffs. This is my list of season awards and who will be winning them and also which team will be playing in June for the NBA Championship. I will break down the Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Most Valuable Players, Most Improved Player and more. People always ask my opinion on who is going to win what so here we go.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR – ANDREW WIGGINS
Andrew Wiggins came into the league with the whole world watching his every move. The youngster came from the Cavs in a trade that sent Kevin Love to Cleveland in exchange. The display that Wiggins put on this season was impressive and it looked as though every night he was trying to make Cleveland pay. Wiggins averaged 16.9 points per game and 4.6 rebounds per game as a rookie. The reason why he gets the Rookie of the Year in my book is because of the games that he had head to head with Lebron James. Andrew Wiggins posted 27 points on Lebron in the first game and then 33 in the second game which was very impressive. If Jabari Parker didn’t get hurt it would very very close in this race. Wiggins was very consistent at the end of the season leading the team down the stretch with Zach LaVine which will be a very good for years to come as they both are still in there teens. Andrew Wiggins also have a great amount of highlights and monster dunks this season which will propel him there on top of his numbers.
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER – JIMMY BUTLER
Jimmy Butler came into this season knowing that the Bulls would have Pau Gasol and Derrick Rose. What he didn’t know is that Derrick Rose would get hurt again and that he would have to be the catalyst for the team. Jimmy Butler was coming into this season looking for a huge pay day from the Bulls and I think he earned it. Jimmy and Pau put the Bulls on their back all season and Jimmy Butler logged the most minutes per game this season before he got hurt against the Clippers. Jimmy Butler was averaging 13 points a game last year and this season he leaped up to 20 per game. Jimmy Butler was named to the All Star Game in New York and had propelled his game and his team into the position that they are in now. Jimmy has been one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA and prides himself on defense and also improving his jump shot. Whatever the Bulls do in the postseason will go off how good Rose and Gasol do but Butler has cemented himself as a house hold name now for the teams looking for perimeter defenders in the free agency. Jimmy Butler has earned the money and his big improvement showed that if given the moment or a chance to shine that anything is possible as his teammate Mirotic found out the same thing.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR – DeANDRE JORDAN
DeAndre Jordan was coming off of a monster year in 2013-2014 and everyone thought that he was worthy of getting the defensive player of the year award but it didn’t happen. 2014-2015 he wanted to make his presence known and the NBA should have noticed as he stepped up his game overall. Jordan averaged a league best 15 rebounds a game and also was able to average 11 points per game with a stacked Clippers team. DeAndre Jordan had to grow up real quick as his running mate Blake Griffin got hurt and in this stretch DJ turned into a beast and was averaging over 3 blocks a game. You can see the progression in his game as the season had went and he wasn’t turning back. People would get dunked on all night and boxed out in the paint by DJ and just couldn’t stop him. He is a very consistent big man on the defensive and offensive end of the floor as he lives the Lob City Motto. DeAndre has become a true rebounding machine and also lead the NBA in field goal percentage this season with .710. He is crafty around the rim and defends the paint like his life depends on it every night. Doc Rivers challenged him to get better on the defensive side and he did that and even was able to handle some of the Hack A DJ that he endured. He has made improvements all across the board and should be rewarded for this and his efforts.
6TH MAN OF THE YEAR – ISAIAH THOMAS
Isaiah Thomas ended up in a place where he should of been all along as the Boston Celtics offered him a multi year deal in the offseason that he declined to go to the Suns. With that being said the Celtics were very persistent and showed him that they wanted him on the team and never let up. The Celtics got a steal at the deadline and are now being gifted with the greatness that Thomas brings to a team that compliments his game style. Thomas is averaging 19 points and almost 6 assists off the bench and has been a terror for any team that he has faced while healthy. Thomas is the type of player that can come in and automatically change the pace and outcome of a game. Thomas has put the Celtics on his back alongside the great play of Avery Bradley who has been very good on both ends. Thomas has been able to flourish in Brad Stevens system because there are no egos in the way and also he can flow into the offense and be that spark. The Celtics have had games where they have struggled and I have personally seen Thomas come in and score 30+ off the bench and act like it was no big deal. The Celtics will need him in a big way against the Cavs and it will be a huge task ahead of them. The Celtics have a great 6th man and it seems like all the good ones come out of Seattle just like Jamal Crawford.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER – JAMES HARDEN
The Houston Rockets came back in 2014-2015 with a bad taste in their mouth from Damian Lillard and the Blazers in the postseason. So what did they do they let James Harden loose on the NBA and he has answered the bell. James Harden willed the Rockets to the 2nd seed in the Western Conference. Harden lost the scoring title to Russell Westbrook but averaged 27.4 points per game without Dwight Howard nearly all season. Harden took the Rockets from the bottom to the top and was able to do it on a number of clutch jumpers and also he has improved defensively. James Harden scored over 30 points in a game over 35 times this season which was a organization record. The reason why James Harden deserves this is because of the lack of help he has had all season. You lose a all star in Dwight Howard and also you lose the starting point guard Patrick Beverly as well. Harden had to be the scorer, passer, and leader all in one and was able to make the best of the moments. He has stepped up and done the MVP like things that he had to do and locking up that 2nd seed was huge. Steph would of had my vote but that team is already built together and also they are a product of Mark Jackson. Steph had Klay Thompson the whole season who was also an All Star and Harden had no one. Its that simple honestly and thats the damn truth and the bottom line.
I have the Bulls vs Spurs in the NBA Finals if everyone is healthy meaning Derrick Rose. If D-Rose and the Bulls can advance past the Cavs in the second round then I think they deserve to make it to the Finals. The Bulls have made improvements and have got Gasol in the paint now to add to Noah and Gibson so they would be very tough to beat. If Rose can play some very good minutes for Coach Thibs I think the Bulls have the chance to make it. The Spurs are clicking at the right time and Kawhi Leonard is growing into a superstar before our very own eyes. The Spurs have been playing off of his intensity on defense and also they have been letting him go to work on the interior. The Spurs will always be in the mix of things as they are the only team in the NBA that plays players less than 25 minutes per game. They are rested and are waiting for the postseason as they make that push to try to get the back to back win. Tim Duncan is still making some big man moves in the paint and him and Parker are eager to show that they still have what it takes.