NBA Season Awards Predictions 2013-2014
We’ve hit the last weeks of the NBA season and boy has it been filled with surprises. From Phoenix emerging as a legitimate playoff threat, to the Eastern Conference posting a historically bad record, it goes to show that any season has the potential to be far from ordinary.
Before we delve into the postseason conversation, it’s about time we announce our predictions for the major season awards. This list includes Rookie of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, Coach of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Most Improved Player and of course the Most Valuable Player.
Rookie of the Year: Michael Carter-Williams, Sixers
Honorable Mention: Victor Oladipo, Magic
Up until these last few months it seemed Michael Carter-Williams had this award in the bag leading all rookies in scoring, rebounds, assists and steals.
However strong play by Victor Oladipo has kept this race from being a complete landslide, raising his shooting efficiency and posting two double-doubles since the All-Star break.
If Carter-Williams can keep his numbers up until the end of the season he should have no problem walking away with this award. But if he falls into a bad slump and Oladipo catches fire, lookout for a possible upset.
Sixth Man of the Year: Manu Ginobli, Spurs
Honorable Mention: Markieff Morris, Suns
Why aren’t Reggie Jackson or Jamal Crawford on this list? Simply because they’ve started too many games. In my book anyone that’s started over 20 should be ruled out completely.
With those two out of the equation we’re left with Phoenix big man Markieff Morris and Spurs veteran Manu Ginobli.
Both players are highly deserving of the award but for now I’m giving Ginobli the edge thanks to his experience and impressive impact on the offensive end of the floor.
According to Basketball-Reference, the Spurs offensive rating jumps from 106.9 to 117.5 with Ginobli in the lineup. Add in the 12.1 points and 4.6 assists he averages on a nightly basis and you truly begin to see why he’s so vital to this San Antonio team.
Coach of the Year: Jeff Hornacek, Suns
Honorable Mention: Gregg Popovich, Spurs
Admit it, Suns fan or not, when you gazed upon this roster at the beginning of the season you couldn’t help but cringe a little.
Names like Channing Frye, Miles Plumlee and Goran Dragic don’t scream playoff contender but somehow, someway, Jeff Hornacek has his squad playing like their contracts are in jeopardy every night.
Their defense may be shaky at best, but their fast paced offense has kept them afloat all season long ranking 6th in points and 5th in three pointers per game according to Basketball-Reference.
Popovich is definitely another name that deserves to be in the Coach of the Year conversation, but I’m afraid voter fatigue may keep the Spurs mastermind from earning his third yet.
Defensive Player of the Year: Roy Hibbert, Pacers
Honorable Mention: Joakim Noah, Bulls
Hibbert has been a beast in the middle all season long ranking fourth in blocks per game and defensive win shares according to Basketball-Reference.
Better yet, he’s also holding opposing centers to a suffocating 12.2 player efficiency rating according to Synergy Sports, ranking almost 3 points under the league average.
Throw in the fact that his team’s defense statistically ranks best in the league, and it’s hard not to peg Hibbert as a favorite to run away this award.
Most Improved Player: Goran Dragic, Suns
Honorable Mention: Lance Stephenson, Pacers
While it’s tempting to choose big names like Lance Stephenson or Anthony Davis, I opted to go with a player that’s often overlooked: Goran Dragic.
With ex-canidate Eric Bledsoe out of the lineup indefinitely, Dragic has stepped up his game big time averaging a career-high in points per game (20.5) and field goal percentage (50.7).
Barring any injuries, the Suns floor general should get this award thanks to his phenomenal play on offense which has been huge for a team that was originally thought of as nothing more than lottery contenders.
Most Valuable Player: Kevin Durant, Thunder
Honorable Mention: LeBron James, Heat
Right when you thought Kevin Durant clinched this award, LeBron responded with some monster numbers following the All-Star Break averaging 32.6 points on 61.4 percent shooting and putting up a career-high 61 points against the Bobcats.
In return, Durant scored 42 points on 70 percent shooting against the Sixers the following night, notching his tenth 40 point game this season.
Talk about a close race.
While the award may still be in favor of Durant, LeBron has made it known he’s not giving up without a fight. Your guess is as good as mine for who wins this at the end of the season, but for now I’m sticking with KD.
Follow Evan Caulfield on Twitter @fieldhoops