Yes, the NBA season has just started, and at most a team has played only 2 games, some just 1. But these are the awards players would get if for some reason the season ended right now. Note: These are not my predictions for who’s going to win the awards after watching the first few games, this is just who would win the awards right now. To be honest, none of these players will most likely end up winning the award by the end of the season. So why am I writing this? Because that’s what sports writing is: taking something that no one cares about and making it interesting. Enjoy.
MVP: Russell Westbrook, Thunder Point Guard Yes, I know that everyone right now is in love with Anthony Davis. And trust me AD has been great, I mean 47.5 ppg, 16.0 rpg, and 4.0 apg, along with defensive stats of 3.5 spg and 3.0 bpg, is absolutely and utterly ridiculous. But his team is 0-2 while Russ’s team is 2-0. Another player I considered for the MVP was Kawhi Leonard, who is off to a great scoring start with 32.5 ppg, and is playing his usual superhuman defense, as shown by an incredible 5.0 spg. In fact, I would argue that Kawhi and Davis have played better than Russ, but MVP and the best player are two different things. This is due to two reasons: a) the better player’s team might have a worse record, which affects the MVP because if a team isn’t winning, the great player isn’t really valuable to the team’s success, and b) voters will pick the MVP based on his tone and his story for the award. And based on reason b, Russ is who everyone wants to win MVP. But enough about these other players, let’s talk about the opening week MVP himself, Russell Westbrook. Russ has already given us a preview about what he’s gonna do for the entire season. He’ll take a lot of shots, play like a man on a mission, and put up some crazy stats( 41.5 ppg, 9.5 apg, 12.5 rpg). Last night, he had a crazy triple double of 51 pts, 13 reb, and 10 ast. He also had a crazy bad stat of 17 for 44 from the floor on shots. That’s 39%. But regardless, Westbrook has impressed me so far by how clutch he’s been in these first two games, something that I had always doubted about him. During the 4th quarter of both of those games, Russ just willed the Thunder to victory by way of his imposing athleticism. As for the rest of this season, I’m still not a fan of Russ, but he’s found a way to win so far. If he can drag the Thunder to a top seed out West while keeping up his great numbers, he’ll win that MVP that so many predicted for him.
Defensive Player of the Year: Kawhi Leonard, Spurs Forward It was hard for me to pick between Kawhi and Davis here. Both have great stats and are known as supreme defenders. I picked Kawhi because when both of the two played GSW, Davis was disruptive, but Kawhi was just torture for the Splash 4 to deal with. The play that stuck in my head was when Curry was dribbling up the court near the end of the 3rd, displaying his fancy moves in order to blow off steam while being blown out by the Spurs. But then, Leonard just absolutely ripped him and took off for an explosive dunk. I stopped and realized that “The Claw” (as Kawhi should be called) is so good to the point that the one of the NBA’s premier ball handlers is terrified of dribbling against him. The Claw is going to help the Spurs win a lot of games this year, and he might win his 3rd straight DPOY.
Rookie of the Year: Joel Embiid, 76ers Center Fine, call me a homer. But my team’s new center has been the best rookie so far. With injuries to his teammate Ben Simmons and other top draft pick Brandon Ingram, the 2017 ROY race seems wide open. And no rookie has done as much as Embiid. Sure, it was just one game, but that’s true for a lot of teams right now. Embiid had 20 pts, 7 reb, and 2 blks are pretty great stats for an NBA debut. He would have done even better if his teammates had passed him the ball more down the stretch, but they decided to chuck up 3s while letting Westbrook lead the Thunder back. But for the few chances Jo-Jo did get in crunch time, he was stellar by converting multiple mid range jumpers, in the face of Steven Adams no less. Overall, if Embiid keeps this up, the Sixers will have another reason to keep trusting the process.
Sixth Man of the Year: Jonathan Simmons, Spurs Forward This is, by far, the hardest one week award to pick. Heck, this award isn’t easy by the end of the season. This is because all of attention goes to the stars and starters. And with so many of the NBA’s top players having prolific opening performances, none of the role players have been talked about. So I went with probably the only one who has gotten some discussion, Jonathon Simmons. This is obviously because of his great performance against the super Warriors, which included multiple tough 3s and an awesome chase down block on the 2-time reigning MVP. He finished that night with 20 points on 57% shooting. It seems like Poppovich has found yet another great piece.
Most Improved Player: Harrison Barnes, Mavericks Forward This is the one award that is the same as the one I predicted in my Season Preview. Barnes has not disappointed, and is already showing proof to the great flashes he showed with the Warriors last year. He is averaging 25 ppg, and had a great 31 point performance last night. There’s not much else to say about Barnes because he’s a pretty quiet guy and he’s doing what many always thought he could do. If he keeps it up, he’ll break the barrier an earn an all-star appearance.
Sources: All opinions only from me. Data about stats and facts from ESPN.com. Link to page below