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Shoot or Pass Podcast – 2020-2021 NBA Awards, STUDS & DUDS, and Conference Tiers Review

Is it too late now to say sorry, Brodie? The crew is back together to talk the 2nd half of the season starting with Russell Westbrook making history (09:55)! They break down what team disappointed the most (13:40), the underrated trade of the season (18:00), name their STUDS & DUDS of the 2nd half (21:35), play another round of Dribble, Dunk, and Flop to name this year’s NBA Awards winners (32:21), and do a little revision of the Eastern & Western Conference Tiers they set in the season previews (66:10).

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2020-21 NBA Awards Predictions

It’s that time of year again! And while this season brought about some unprecedented challenges, the players (and coaches below) are defying the odds and shining bright. Here are my 2020-21 NBA Awards Predictions for the COY, ROY, DPOY, MIP, 6th Man, and of course, MVP.

Check out Chevy’s MVP Rankings

COACH OF THE YEAR

Top candidates – Quin Snyder, Monty Williams, Tom Thibodeau

Surprisingly, this is what I believe to be the closest call in all of my 2020-21 NBA Awards Predictions. No one is running away with this one like they may be in the other categories. We have a coach who propelled an incredible 8-0 bubble run to a 2-seed in the Western Conference. Monty Williams seamlessly fit new veteran acquisitions Chris Paul and Jae Crowder into a young starting line up. He successfully developed a bench unit capable of outperforming the starters on any given night. The Phoenix Suns took the BIGGEST leap this season, and while everyone in that locker room will hinge their success on playoff performances, this team exceeded expectations thanks in large part to their head coach.

Speaking of big leaps, it is not possible to have this conversation without Quin Snyder. While one can argue that the Suns made the bigger leap, Snyder turned a 5-seed, early playoff exit Utah Jazz into the top team in the league. Not to mention, he achieved this feat without any significant changes to the team’s roster. I find that to be equally impressive, particularly in a conference where coming into the season all teams were considered a tier below the NBA champs.

Let’s not forget about the Eastern Conference, where teams are also making impressive strides. This is where Tom Thibodeau comes into the mix, but it would not be fair to mention him without Doc Rivers. Thibs took a Knicks team with no prospects and turned them into a playoff team. Doc turned a Sixers team who continually failed to meet expectations into one that could represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. However, both coaches do not have the greatest track records in the playoffs. While this award really only counts for the regular season, I need to see more from these two coaches and their teams.

WINNER – Monty Williams


MOST IMPROVED PLAYER

Top candidates – Julius Randle, Christian Wood, Jerami Grant

On to easier 2020-21 NBA Awards Predictions to make.

Christian Wood was blowing my mind to start the season. Unfortunately, he got hurt and missed games (and happens to play for the worst team in the league). Tough break for him.

On paper, Jerami Grant is the most improved player in the league. He is averaging 10 more PPG as a starter in every game for the Detroit Pistons this season. He is proof that betting on yourself pays dividends, even if it comes with sacrificing wins, something he is not doing much of with his new team. You just know the Denver Nuggets would love to have his production right now going into the playoffs in a very tough Western Conference.

Fear not, Denver. I am throwing another name into the ring for this award from your roster – Michael Porter Jr.

The sophomore standout has really burst onto the scene after the All-Star break and his timing could not be better with Jamal Murray out for the season. I don’t know that he beats out Julius Randle this season, but Porter Jr. still has levels to unlock in his game. As he develops his facilitating and defensive abilities, he will be a viable candidate for this and other awards for years to come.

WINNER – Julius Randle

6TH MAN OF THE YEAR

Top candidates – Jordan Clarkson, Joe Ingles, Jalen Brunson

Recency bias will have you leaning toward Joe Ingles for this award, and with good reason. Jingles is more efficient, a better playmaker, and a smarter defender than his Jazz teammate. But here’s the deal, for better or for worse, this award is all about POINTS PER GAME (off the bench). With that said, this has to be Jordan Clarkson’s award to lose, right? A huge part of Utah’s success this season comes at the hands of Clarkson’s volume scoring in the second unit. Just the other night (albeit in a losing effort), he came out and scored 24 POINTS IN THE FOURTH QUARTER. This will be instrumental for Utah to finish out the regular season and in the playoffs with Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley coming back from injury.

Another guy who deserves some recognition in this category? Dallas’ Jalen Brunson, who is proving to be a worthy piece to the rotation on a team that has been decimated by injuries this season. He is earning more minutes, particularly in the clutch and will have an opportunity to really prove himself in the playoffs.

WINNER – JORDAN CLARKSON

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Top candidates – Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball, Tyrese Haliburton

First off, shout out to all of the rookies this season. Most wrote off this rookie class, but they are defying the odds, with some even becoming household names.

One of the rooks who has stepped up to the plate? Sacramento’s Tyrese Haliburton. The 12th pick in the NBA draft is proving his doubters wrong with a level of consistency and composure that makes you forget he just got out of the college game. He is effective off the bench and as a starter, playing a key role in a nice little 7-1 winning streak the Kings went on in March. There is some hope to hang your hats on, Kings fans!

I feel like those who are leaning heavily one way or another between Anthony Edwards or LaMelo are doing so because of personal preference. That’s okay. However, let’s bring a new scenario into the picture – Co-Rookies of the Year.

What? Why? HEAR ME OUT.

Anthony Edwards is surpassing LaMelo Ball now (averaging 19/2.8/4.7 on 41% shooting from the field and 33% from three), but Melo is still the more efficient player (44% from the field and 35% from three). It is not fair to just hand the award to Edwards when Melo missed time due to injury. On the other hand, it is equally unfair to give it to Melo for having the better start and playing for the better team. CROWN THEM BOTH!

WINNERS – Anthony Edwards and LaMelo Ball

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Top Candidates – Rudy Gobert, Ben Simmons, Bam Adebayo

Here are three candidates who have been openly campaigning for this award all season.

See – Bam Adebayo stating his case just last night:

And Ben Simmons not-so subtly declaring himself DPOY back in April over Rudy Gobert:

You’re probably thinking I am going all homer on this one. I LOVE BAM and think he belongs in the conversation, but Ben and Rudy have been absolutely DOMINATING.

You just cannot compare these two players to one another because their roles are different defensively. Here is what it comes down to for me – 107.7 points allowed per 100 possessions with him on the court, 119.6 points allowed per 100 possessions without him on the court. Leader of most defensive stats, including blocks and defensive rebounds per game. The heart and soul of the league’s #1 defense. King of RIM PROTECTION. The embodiment of defense. It’s got to go to Rudy Gobert. Sorry Philly.

WINNER – Rudy Gobert

Feb 15, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) hangs on the rim after a dunk against Philadelphia 76ers guard Seth Curry (31) in the fourth quarter at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

Top Candidates – Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo

This race was close. Had this article been drafted up midseason, I would be writing a dissertation for the grandest award of them all. Joel Embiid was DOMINATING with DPOY candidate Ben Simmons, and succeeding on both ends of the floor, a huge part of the Sixers turn-around this season. But, the injury bug has spared NO ONE and thanks to it, this section will be short and sweet.

There is really no argument to be made at this point, anyone trying to say otherwise is just bored. Doesn’t even matter who is third, fourth, fifth, etc. on the ballot.

Props to the Joker. Plain and simple.

WINNER – Nikola Jokic

For more 2020-21 NBA Awards Predictions, catch the Shoot or Pass podcast’s latest episode out 5/14!



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NBA 2020-2021 Midseason Awards

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.

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Coach of the Year

Quin Snyder
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

LaMelo Ball
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

Jordon Clarkson
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

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
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

Ben Simmons
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

Joel Embiid
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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Early NBA 2020-2021 Season Awards Predictions

The calmest time of the NBA has arrived but the countdown to a season restart is almost aligned with the countdown to Christmas 2020! Never too early to start some NBA 2020-2021 season Awards predictions right?

Update: Our full staff predictions of the NBA 2020-2021 season awards predictions are now live. Click here to view them!

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Executive of the Year

Rob Pelinka
Let’s see here, shall we? Assembling a Championship team in 2019-2020 and then in the short off-season, you sign the reigning Sixth Man of the Year in Montrezl Harrell. Shameless plug, I’ve ranted and raved about the Lakers already winning the 2020 off-season so far. This is a no brainer pick as the Lakers roster is better on paper after winning a championship. Regardless of the Lakers repeating this season or not, Pelkina did what all defending Championship ballclubs should do.

Runner-Up:
Pat Riley
While Bam Adebayo was offered a max deal he would still need to complete a few tasks to get the max money. I mean, like winning MVP to tap into the full amount. Also, Pat didn’t overspend or make crazy moves to stay in contention. He patiently signed Avery Bradley and Mo Harkless to supplement the loss of Jae Crowder. Bradley’s contract is valued at around $12 with a team option the second year. Harkless signed a one-year, $3.5 M deal. Important to keep this in mind, we might give him this award next season should he sign an All-Star next off-season.

Coach of the Year

Rick Carlisle
Hear me out. This is one of those years we see the Mavericks take a leap into the high rankings of the West. Most of it would fall on Luka Doncic leading the way but also can garner for Carlise to win the Coach of the Year award.

Carlise won the award in 2002 while coaching the Detroit Pistons but in that short stint, he couldn’t get that team over the hump to a championship. Also that year Ben Wallace won the Defensive Player of the Year and Corliss Williamson won the Sixth Man of the Year. Can Carlise repeat a Coach of the Year with one of his own players winning an award too?

Runner-Up:
Steve Kerr
Most recently winning the award in 2016, Kerr can capture another Coach of the Year if the Warriors overachieve. Well, what is overachieving to the Warriors? Finishing with a top 3 record in the NBA with a roster featuring a rookie in James Wiseman and without Klay Thompson helps. Obviously, winning is needed to win this award and certainly, it can be done with Kerr and Curry.

Rookie of the Year

James Wiseman
With Klay Thompson most likely not returning for the 2020-2021 season Wiseman’s opportunity to provide meaningful minutes looks promising. Sure, playing next to Stephen Curry and Draymond Green helps. Can Wiseman be a significant enough of a role to see Rookie of the Year consideration?

While Wiseman only played in three games prior to his suspension from the NCAA, we know what he brings to the table. The Warriors currently have no other skilled Centers on their roster. While he’s a rookie, the benefits of playing with a current championship contender helps.

Runner-Up:
LaMelo Ball
The room to freely fly like a butterfly is in Charlotte where the chance to shine is all for this Ball. Sure Big Baller Brand exists but welcome to the world of Michael Jordan and his Jordan Brand affiliates. Ball has shown signs of being more than just a shooter but also a playmaker.

Sixth Man of the Year

Montrezl Harrell
This award seems to rarely be passed around lately as Harrell’s former teammate Lou Williams won this award repeatedly. Do they change teams often when doing so? The last time someone besides Lou Williams or Harrell won this award was in 2017 when Eric Gordon was awarded the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year. Gordon was employed by the Houston Rockets in 2017 and still his current team. The same is to be said about Williams who has won the back-to-back award while with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Harrell joins the defending champions, Los Angeles Lakers and his prime role will be to support a second unit while LeBron James gets some rest. I mean how can we not say that Harrell is primed to win this award yet again for a different team this year?

Runner-Up:
Dennis Schroder
Can Los Angeles stop taking over this category? Last season Harrell and Williams were two of the favorites to win this award with the Clippers. This season Harrell is the clear favorite to repeat meanwhile last year’s potential runner-up is yet again Harrell’s teammate.

No Rajon Rondo and the Lakers lacking a true point guard on their roster means Schroder can come off the bench with Harrell and be in competition with his own teammate. Fancy that huh?

Most Improved Player

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
I’ve seen Jamal Murray recommended as an ideal candidate for this award in 2021. However, The expectations for Murray should already be ready to come into the 2020-2021 season playing at a high level. Especially, if he’s showcased himself with a great playoff run.

SGA has the next up in Oklahoma City as Chris Paul is gone. Sam Presti traded for Ricky Rubio and Kelly Oubre Jr. only to turn around and trade both of them away. Danilo Gallinari signed with the Hawks. The Thunder are now stuck with finding a new identity.

Last season, Brandon Ingram won this award despite the Pelicans struggling to make the playoffs in the NBA Bubble. Although, I thought Luka Doncic should have won last season it appears the voters will side with the players who weren’t expected to have a season as Ingram did. This is why I’m going with SGA this year.

Runner-Up:
Michael Porter Jr.
I almost wanted to put Porter Jr. up as the winner but the opportunity for him maybe a little uncertain as his health is a concern. He definitely had a promising bubble appearance and also with Denver’s loss of Jerami Grant, this is a good thing for MPJ. If he has to “load manage” throughout the season this can cost him a shot at the Most Improved Player award.

Defensive Player of the Year

Anthony Davis
A huge part of the Lakers success last season was how impactful Davis was on the defensive end. It almost seemed at times Davis is primed to take over for the Lakers instead of LeBron James. However, James would run away with his fourth Finals MVP despite the run Davis had.

Because the Bucks and Giannis Antetekounmpo had such a successful season defensively Davis was slightly overshadowed. The Bucks also had the best defensive rating at 102.5, in the NBA. However, Davis trailed Giannis in defensive win shares by a mere .6 last season.

Runner-Up:
Giannis Antetokounmpo
This is another award that may not be fair to the field unless AD or Giannis has an injury or disappointing season. Barring injuries the duo here are the best defensive players the league has. Sure Bam Adebayo and Rudy Gobert are still around but the overall impact these two play for their teams is much more important.

The interchangeable one and two between AD and Giannis is undisputed until teams like Miami or Utah also fare at the top of the league in defensive ratings. Last season, the Lakers finished third and Bucks finished first in the NBA Defensive Team ratings. The impact is much greater when these two are on the floor for their respective teams.

Most Valuable Player

Luka Doncic
The future “GOAT” has been primed for the MVP this year. The Mavericks enter a slightly reshaped Western Conference. Luka can lead the Mavericks to a successful season and put the Mavericks at the fourth seed at best in a stacked Western Conference.

We saw without Kristaps Porzingas he led Dallas into the playoffs. Enter the NBA Bubble and Doncic was still the prime reason for Dallas’ success. Porzingas couldn’t finish the first-round matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers due to a knee injury. Luka’s Game 4 game-winner helped push the series to six games. Look for the Mavericks to take the next step towards contenders this season under Luka’s leadership and play.

Runner-Up:
Stephen Curry
Finding a guy who will matter more to his team more than anything start to drift away beyond Luka Doncic and Stephen Curry. With the return of a partially healthy Warriors roster and James Wiseman the newest addition the Warriors will be in battles night in and night out.

Curry, arguably the best shooter of all-time, has his work cut out this season to push the Warriors back to contenders. Can he average around 28-30 points per game? Can he knock down 3-5 three-point field goals a game? Why am I questioning this? I’m not he’s going to do this! A revenge season for Curry and attempting to return the Warriors back atop of the West will ride on his play.


Staff Picks

Chevall Kanhai

Cody Guinn

Gabe Lloyd

Rhoby Sala

Most Valuable Player

Luka Doncic

LeBron James

Luka Doncic

Luka Doncic

Rookie of the Year

James Wiseman

Obi Toppin

LaMelo Ball

James Wiseman

Defensive Player of the Year

Anthony Davis

G. Antetokounmpo

G. Antetokounmpo

Anthony Davis

Most Improved Player of the Year

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Michael Porter Jr.

Michael Porter Jr.

Michael Porter Jr.

Sixth Man of the Year

Montrezl Harrell

Tyler Herro

Spencer Dinwiddie

Montrezl Harrell

Coach of the Year

Rick Carlisle

Taylor Jenkins

Erik Spoelstra

Erik Spoelstra




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NBA Bubble Awards – Vote in our Poll


Six categories. Five nominees in each. Vote for your favorite NBA players and coaches for their performances throughout seeding games.


Categories in our NBA Bubble Awards Poll:
  • Rookie of the Bubble
  • Most Improved Player of the Bubble
  • Sixth man of the Bubble
  • Defensive Player of the Bubble
  • Coach of the Bubble
  • Most Valuable Player of the Bubble

We will be featuring poll results for the NBA Bubble Awards in the next few episodes of the Shoot or Pass Podcast. New episodes drop every Monday – so get your vote on and tune in!

Who is your top Rookie of the Bubble?

Who is your Most Improved Player of the Bubble?

Who is your Sixth Man of the Bubble?

Who is your Defensive Player of the Bubble?

Who is your Coach of the Bubble?

Who is your Most Valuable Player in the Bubble?


The NBA will be awarding several honors to reward players and coaches with top performances in Orlando. Awards include:
  • NBA Player of the Seeding Games
  • Coach of the Seeding Games
  • NBA All-Bubble First team
  • NBA All-Bubble Second team
These awards are separate from the 2020 NBA Awards. Select media members have been voting for their favorite players in six categories for performances throughout the regular before the lock down in March. These are the finalists:
MVP
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
  • James Harden, Houston Rockets
  • LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
  • Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies
  • Kendrick Nunn, Miami Heat
  • Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
  • Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers
  • Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR
  • Montrezl Harrell, Los Angeles Clippers 
  • Dennis Schröder, Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Lou Williams, Los Angeles Clippers
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER
  • Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat
  • Luka Dončić, Dallas Mavericks 
  • Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans
COACH OF THE YEAR
  • Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee Bucks
  • Billy Donovan, Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Nick Nurse, Toronto Raptors
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2020 NBA Awards picks

With the NBA announcing the finalists to the 2020 NBA Awards, the Baseline Times NBA crew shares their favorite picks for Coach of the Year, Rookie of the Year, 6th Man of the Year, Most Improved Player, Defensive Player of the Year, and MVP.

The NBA decided to award these for regular season contributions before the unexpected shutdown, so check back here as we make our picks for our 2020 NBA Bubble Awards!

Coach of the Year

Chevall Kanhai votes Nick Nurse

The Toronto Raptors are the defending champs losing arguably one of the top three players in the league last summer. Before the season was suspended, Nurse was limited with some of his core players out. Pascal Siakam missed 11 games, Fred VanVleet missed 16 games, Kyle Lowry missed 12 games, Serge Ibaka missed 14 games, and Marc Gasol missed 28 games. Somehow, the Raptors are third in the NBA in defensive rating and overall standings in the league.

John Glowatz votes Nick Nurse

He is aiming for his second Coach the Year award with the job he’s done getting the Mavericks to play championship level ball which is evident in the way Luka has seemingly taken over the league from one year to the next. Beating the Bucks on their home floor which at the time had only one home loss (vs Miami) shows poise, experience and damn good coaching. Don’t be surprised to see this team make a serious run to the title in this second season

Gabe Lloyd votes Rick Carlisle

He is aiming for his second Coach the Year award with the job he’s done getting the Mavericks to play championship level ball which is evident in the way Luka has seemingly taken over the league from one year to the next. Beating the Bucks on their home floor which at the time had only one home loss (vs Miami) shows poise, experience and damn good coaching. Don’t be surprised to see this team make a serious run to the title in this second season

Rhoby Sala votes Nick Nurse

Winning an NBA Championship as a rookie Head Coach with a superstar named Kawhi Leonard is commendable, but keeping your team competitive enough to remain a top contender in the East after said superstar takes off AND almost every player in your rotation misses time due to injury is UNPRECEDENTED.

Rookie of the Year

Chevall Kanhai votes Ja Morant

Morant’s numbers after 59 games before the season suspension: 17.6 points per game, 6.9 assists per game, and shooting 49-percent from the field. His scoring and assists per game currently lead all Rookies. There shouldn’t be any second-guessing Morant as his Grizzlies are lined up at the 8th seed in the Western Conference and will try to avoid being bounced by a potential play-in tournament.

Gabe Lloyd votes Ja Morant

As much as I want to be a homer and pick Kendrick Nunn for the award, Ja Morant has him beat in every statistical category across the board. Rookie of the Year isn’t a team award the way some media members pick MVP based on the record. Ja Morant came into the league with much hype and rightfully so averaging 17 points per game and a shade under 7 assists per game. He has the talent and vision to lead this team for years to come. The Grizzlies are a young squad finding their place in the league so with more experience and consistency they should be a normal playoff contender.

John Glowatz votes Ja Morant

In addition to averaging 17.6 points and 6.9 assists per game for the Grizzlies, Ja has them in the playoff picture in what was supposed to be a rebuilding season.  Ja also makes Memphis a ton of fun to watch as he is seemingly always in the highlight reel with high-flying, acrobatic play.  [Zion ineligible IMO with not enough games played]. 

Rhoby Sala votes Ja Morant

Talk about putting an entire team on your back! The Grizzlies were expected to tank this year, but the #2 pick out of Murray State in the 2019 NBA draft had other plans. An average of 17.6 ppg, 6.8 apg, and some big (and I mean BIG) 4th Quarter shots later – and Ja Morant has the Memphis Grizzlies in playoff contention instead.

Sixth Man of the Year

Chevall Kanhai votes Montrezl Harrell

Harrell comes in as a defensive anchor for the Clippers which traditionally you could assume this award would go to a scoring bench player. However, Harrell does it all. Currently, he is averaging a career-high 18.6 points per game to go along with 7.1 rebounds, 1.1 blocks per game while shooting 58-percent from the field. Only starting two of the 62 games he played in with those numbers makes him the favorite over teammate Lou Williams who regressed from last season.

Gabe Lloyd votes Dennis Schroder

Oklahoma City has been a pleasant surprise in the western conference after most thought they would shrink after losing both Russell Westbrook and Paul George. Operating as a modern-day Reggie Jackson, Schroder has steadily anchored the second unit being a former on and off starter with the Hawks in previous seasons. With guys like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari and Chris Pual leading the starting five, there is no reason for dropoff for this young talent who I believe has yet to scratch the surface of his full potential should CP3 depart.

John Glowatz votes Dennis Schroder

Schroder averaged nearly 19 points per game coming off the bench and carried the water for the Thunder while Chris Paul was resting or out.  I give him the edge over the Clippers duo of Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams as he has less support on the second unit for the Thunder. 

Rhoby Sala votes Montrezl Harrell

Before we go and rename this the “Lou Williams” award, let’s consider the fact that Lou Williams himself endorsed Montrezl Harrell (if he didn’t win it for third straight time). Harrell’s stats have improved across the board this year, but his energy and his hustle coming off the bench for the Clippers is something you just cannot measure or compete against.

Most Improved Player of the Year

Chevall Kanhai votes Luka Doncic

Why even shy away on giving Luka this award even with star potential?
Doncic currently averages 28.7 points per game, 8.7 assists per game, 9.3 rebounds per game, and shooting 46-percent from the field. He is currently in the top five in assists and points per game in the league. His 9.3 rebounds per game place him at 18th in the league this season but he is the only guard on the list in the top 18

Gabe Lloyd votes Luka Doncic

Luka Doncic has taken his game to another level with a league-leading 14 triple-doubles. He has become appointment viewing. The thing about Doncic is that his game isn’t flashy and he actually plays at a slower pace than most but his LeBron James like frame and court vision puts him in elite status this early in his career.

John Glowatz votes Bam Adebayo 

Honestly, I haven’t watched a ton of Heat games this year.  So, when I first heard that Bam made the All-Star team this year I was pretty surprised.  (Not even going to touch his Skills Challenge win).  That is what a true MIP should be, a player that would surprise an NBA fan if you woke them up from a year-long coma and told them that said player made an All-Star team. 

Rhoby Sala votes Bam Adebayo

This one’s tough. Brandon Ingram deserves it just as much, but the homer in me says that Bam’s improvements in every major statistical stat and ascendance into an All-Star caliber NBA center is enough to defend myself. Go HEAT!

Defensive Player of the Year

Chevall Kanhai votes Giannis Antetokounmpo

He leads the league in defensive win shares (0.206) and currently holds the NBA lead for Player Efficiency Rating (31.71) and net rating (16.1), which are all career-highs. His 11.5 defensive rebounds per game is also a league-high. The Bucks are rated the NBA’s best defensive team while sitting pretty with the NBA’s best record. What else is there to say? Congratulations to Giannis twice in one season.

Gabe Lloyd votes Bam Adebayo

This may be a stretch for some but Bam Adebayo has shown he can be a Defensive Player of the Year. Getting rid of Whiteside unlocked Bam’s full potential. He can shoot the jump shot and pick and pop with the best of them. When a player can guard your team’s guards with his versatility he has to be considered a candidate. He is the prototypical big man in today’s NBA with speed and court awareness.

John Glowatz votes Giannis Antetokounmpo

The Greek Freak is a monster on D, he can guard all 5 positions at an elite level. That sort of versatility gives him a slight edge over guys like Anthony Davis and Rudy Gobert in my opinion.  [Gobert ineligible for attempting to infect others with COVID-19, only half kidding]. 

Rhoby Sala votes Giannis Antetokounmpo

I know, Rudy Gobert’s defense is so good he shut down the entire league for four months (knee slaps), but Giannis is leading most of the advanced defensive stats this year and is the centerpiece to a Bucks defense that will surely go down in history as one of the all-time greats.

MVP

Chevall Kanhai votes Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis is showcasing a season that we’re really not going to see in a while but also going up against a LeBron James making a strong case as well. The fact that Giannis is efficient by averaging his 29.6 points per game, 13.7 rebounds per game, 5.8 assists per game, and shooting 55-percent while playing about 30 minutes per game is the nod. Statistically, he’s better than LeBron and on top of that leading the Bucks to the best record in the league.

Gabe Lloyd votes Giannis Antetokounmpo

This pick doesn’t bear much of an explanation but I’ll share a few words anyway. He could very well be Defensive Player of the Year but that wouldn’t be fun to lump in two awards. He has been the best player all season leading the bucks to the best record in the NBA. I believe this postseason he will show the world why he is worthy of the award. COVID-19 has given players time to work on their game and come back better than ever. He is hungry and I will say this now, he will have a jump shot and it’s going to be scary.

John Glowatz votes Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis is having a historic statistical season, averaging nearly 30 points per game, 14 rebounds per game and 6 assists per game despite playing less than 31 minutes per game. He’s also the clear favorite for Defensive Player of the Year in the same season. Dominating on both ends of the floor should grant you MVP honors.  That being said, I think Lebron and the Lakers end up winning the ship this year. 

Rhoby Sala votes Giannis Antetokounmpo

Can you guess who this is? Averages 29.6 points per game, 13.7 rebounds per game, 5.8 assists per game and shoots 54.7% from the field in 30.9 minutes per game. He leads the top defensive team in the league and a top 10 offense with no co-superstar in tow. Is it Lebron? Not this year! #RevengeSeasonContinues #NotTheKidfromAkron

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