The official break of the NBA has arrived. Well the 2021 NBA All-Star is set for one night on March 7th, and just about five days of rest for non-All-Star players not required to be in Atlanta that Sunday night. I bring forth the NBA 2020-2021 Midseason Awards!
Just in case you want to compare my preseason predictions to the midseason, you do so here.
Coach of the Year
Coach Snyder is the man right now. He’s coached his team up to strengths that not only have earned them the BEST record all season long but his team is also top-rated in defensive rating hanging around the top four this season. The Jazz enters the All-Star break with the NBA’s best record. It’s a no-brainer that Synder should be Coach of the Year so far besides Doc Rivers who is doing something similar with the 76ers leading the Eastern Conference in a similar fashion.
Rookie of the Year
It doesn’t surprise me that we’re talking about the youngest Ball brother as Rookie of the Year. He’s accomplished a lot as a young man early in his career. Already the youngest player to achieve a triple-double he’s also the youngest player to have a 30-point game in Charlotte’s franchise history. If that isn’t enough how about his month of February? Ball finished the month averaging 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 6.7 assists in 13 games. This earned him the stripes of the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for February. Are there any other Rookies we can consider? Tyrese Haliburton is the second closest to contest Ball for this award but the success of the Hornets recently is because of LaMelo. The nod to Ball for ROY is an easy one at this point.
Sixth Man of the Year
Another Jazz representative here for this award. Finally! Someone who is not on a Los Angeles team or name is Lou Williams. Clarkson is coming off the Jazz bench and playing some important minutes at 26 minutes a game. His 18 points per game is a career-high. Clarkson has not even started one game in the 2020-2021 and played all 36 games for the Jazz coming off the bench. That alone itself locks him in as the undisputed first-half of season 6th Man of the uh, half-season so far.
Most Improved Player
I’m a fan of some dramatic improvement on players winning teams but then again, we saw Brandon Ingram win this award and because perhaps Luka Doncic was “too good” they passed up on awarding this to him. SGA is currently averaging career-highs on an Oklahoma City team that at least competes nightly. 23 points a game, 6.2 assists per game, and shooting 51-percent from the field. Shai has played in 25 of the 30 games the Thunder have played leading up to the All-Star break. Christian Wood is injured, Jaylen Brown is a great candidate but his play was expected in my opinion, and Jerami Grant is just getting an increase of opportunity but the Pistons are one of the worse teams in the league.
Defensive Player of the Year
Likewise Utah, it seems Philadelphia is on the upward swing with their coaching change. Part of the change is turning Philly around to be a more consistent defensive team. Doc Rivers joins the party and currently, at the All-Star break, the 76ers are rated 5th in defensive rating. A large part of this is the team’s collective unit making defensive plays but per Fansided here is how Simmons pans out this season with the data: He’s swiping 1.6 steals and is tied for the league lead in both deflections per game (3.9) and loose balls recovered (1.4). Simmons to me leads with the edge that he can be versatile in his defending and defend multiple positions.
Most Valuable Player
Maybe now it’s all about “The Process” and it includes Embiid scoring 40 or more points five times this season including a 50-piece against the Chicago Bulls in January. His career-high in scoring is at 30.2 points per game t his season so far. Embiid is also shooting 52-percent from the field and 42-percent from the three-point line. Both are career highs at this point. The 76ers may not have the best record in the league but without Embiid’s presence this season they’re likely to not sit atop the Eastern Conference all season long. Now, one can make the case for Nikola Jokic or LeBron James. I will say, the race is close but let’s focus on the midseason break only!
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