The first NBA Awards are set to premiere on June 26 at 9 p.m. The post-draft show will announce all of the major end of the year awards and here are a few names you should look out for in each category.
MVP: Russell Westbrook
Regardless of what your opinion is on his playing style, Westbrook fits into the narrative of a lot of past MVPs. First off, he set NBAhistory while playing the game in a style never seen before. Reigning two-time MVP Stephen Curry set the then-single regular season record for most 3-pointers made in a year. Curry’s methods on the court still haven’t been accepted by all former players and fans of past eras in basketball. In cases where layups seemed like the obvious decision to take, he pulled up from 25 feet. Westbrook was a player who went at 100 percent speed and passion every single play, which resulted in him averaging nearly 5 1/2 turnovers per game last season. However, his aggressive style of play also gave him the first season-long triple double average since Oscar Robertson in 1962. The Oklahoma City Thunder had no chance of making the playoffs without Westbrook and although his team lost in five games of the first round, Westbrook is the real MVP this year.
Rookie of the Year: Joel Embiid
Despite the fact that he only played in 31 games, Embiid was clearly the best rookie in a year where there weren’t any other first-year players in the conversation to make the All-Star Game. “The Process” averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.5 blocks, and 2.1 assists per game last season.
Sixth Man of the Year: Eric Gordon
Last season was the first year Gordon played more than 70 games since he was a rookie in 2009. Gordon was a major piece on the Rockets team that kept Houston afloat when its star James Harden was struggling. Gordon averaged 16.2 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game last season.
Coach of the Year: Mike D’Antoni
After a couple of bad stops with the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers, Coach D’Antoni made the most out of the talent he had on his Rockets team last season. Last offseason, Houston lost star center Dwight Howard to the Atlanta Hawks. D’Antoni decided to move star guard James Harden to primarily play point guard, which resulted in Harden’s best season easily of 29.1 points, 11.2 assists, and 8.1 rebounds per game. D’Antoni turned the team’s star player who wasn’t known as a defensive player and didn’t pass often into the opposite.
Most Improved Player: Rudy Gobert
Giannis Antetokuonmpo is probably the leading candidate for this award, but he was already known around the league as a budding All-Star before last season. In 2016, Gobert only played 60 games and averaged under 10 points per contest.This season, he improved his average in points, rebounds, and blocks while only missing one regular season game and being an essential part of the Utah Jazz team that returned to the playoffs.
Defensive Player of the Year: Draymond Green
Green held his opponents to the lowest field-goal percentage of the other two nominees of Kawhi Leonard and Rudy Gobert. Last season, Green averaged 6.6 defensive rebounds, two steals, and 1.4 blocks per game for the world champion Golden State Warriors.
The show will be broadcast on TNT with Drake hosting the event.