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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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Shoot or Pass Podcast: The Close Up Magic

HEAT Nation is away on VACATION so Chevy steps in to fill the show need this week. What better way than to take over the podcast with a magic touch? Stephen Cameron from The Close Up Magic joins Chevy to discuss a little about the Orlando Magic, his trade deadline reactions (10:30), and describe his NBA Mood (26:30). They discuss if Russell Westbrook deserves an apology (30:42), which now-former Magic player will have the most success with their new team (34:16), and are the NBA.com DPOY rankings fucked up? (38:23). The Magic-duo takes a trip down memory in a session of Dunk, Dribble, or Flop (44:03). They share their top choices for All-Time Magic Player and Coach, and top Magic roster. Finally, in a grueling decision, Stephen picks his All-Time Magic Starting 5 (52:40).


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NBA Trade Deadline – Winners & Losers

Break out the fire extinguishers, the NBA’s fire sale is officially over (at least with the trades, let’s see if the buyout market starts booming). I don’t know that I can say it was overwhelming, but it wasn’t underwhelming either, so let’s just say it was “whelming”. Moves were made though, the landscape of the league is changing just in time for the playoffs. Here are my winners and losers of the NBA trade deadline.

WINNERS OF THE NBA TRADE DEADLINE

CHICAGO BULLS

Be honest – did you think the Chicago Bulls of all teams would become the biggest buyers today? ME NEITHER. If I could describe their moves today in one word, it’s FIREPOWER. Because that is EXACTLY what they brought to their roster today.

The Bulls front office had an understanding that they would need to surround their star, Zach LaVine, with FIREPOWER to ensure he stays beyond 2022. So, they went to the biggest sellers in the market down in Disney World and put Nikola Vucevic on a magic carpet (with Al-Farouq Aminu), dumping Otto Porter Jr. and his $28.5 million contract in the process. That was enough to give them the crown. They took it a step further though, nabbing Daniel Theis, Troy Brown Jr., Jeff Green, and CASH MONEY (to the tune of approximately $1.5 million) later on.

This team is now SIGNIFICANTLY better than they were 24 hours ago. Are we talking playoffs or what, Chicago?!

DENVER NUGGETS

I’m going to keep this one simple mainly because HEALTH will play a huge factor in how the Denver Nuggets fare from their moves today. Aaron Gordon is a good get and I have to say, I am very much looking forward to seeing some Jokic-Gordon alley oops and some Murray-Gordon pick-and-rolls. However, Aaron Gordon has a history of injuries and the injury bug has not spared ANYONE in the league this season. Nonetheless, the acquisitions of Gordon and JaVale McGee (a serviceable backup who will help shoulder the load while Jokic rests) can help them compete with the likes of both L.A. teams and the Utah Jazz.

Essentially, the name of the game for the Denver Nuggets today is simple – turn potential into PRODUCTION. And get some DEFENSIVE HELP (because holy fuck do they need it). Worst comes to worst, Mike Malone hits the bench and starts praying. That should do it, right?

HONORABLE MENTION – MIAMI HEAT

I know what you’re thinking. “Wow, a HEAT fan thinking Pat Riley didn’t hit a home run today?”

Look, at 2:59pm ET, a meltdown was looming. At that point, all I knew was that Pat had brought the talents of another tall white guy in Nemanja Blejica to South Beach in exchange for Moe Harkless and Chris Silva. Kyle Lowry was in fact not going to come down the FL Turnpike to the American Airlines Arena. I was frustrated, confused, ENRAGED, and pretending to pay attention to a Zoom meeting for my day job.

I should have known that The Godfather runs on Miami time.

Indeed, a move was made. Victor Oladipo comes to the Miami HEAT in exchange for Kelly Olynyk, Avery Bradley, and a pick swap. My home team gets a two-way player who can take some of the load off of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo WITHOUT having to give up Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson in the process. That’s quite the robbery on the Houston Rockets (more on that below).

The reason why I am not running around my apartment complex banging pots and pats right now is because I do not feel like this is enough. The HEAT need another BIG piece. Out of San Antonio, preferably. Another key to this becoming a home run? Making a long term deal beyond this season work with Mr. Oladipo, who wants to get PAID. If those factors work out in their favor, then BRAVO. Regardless, I think Pat deserves a pat on the back.



LOSERS OF THE NBA TRADE DEADLINE

HOUSTON ROCKETS

Y-I-K-E-S.

The Houston Rockets couldn’t even bargain for a pack of airline peanuts today (or any day this season for that matter).

After turning down a contract extension a few weeks ago, it was obvious Victor Oladipo was out the door. In fact, Victor Oladipo was out the door before he even got to Houston as he had been negotiating his way to Miami for what seems like years now.

It’s crazy because the Rockets had all of the bargaining power just a couple of months ago when James Harden was demanding a trade. Ben Simmons was on the table. Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen? Also on the table. What do the Rockets have to show for it today? Nothing more than an assortment of draft picks and random players. You can’t even mention John Wall because he is getting bought out as I type this, probably.

I feel for Stephen Silas and Christian Wood. What a fucking mess.

BOSTON CELTICS

At least they are not the Houston Rockets. That’s a good way to kick this one off, right?

Not the worst day for the Celtics, but knowing their fans I would not be surprised if we get a Tea Party Part II in Boston. I am going to give credit where credit is due, Danny Ainge was getting demands to do SOMETHING today, and technically that is what he did. Evan Fournier? Not terrible. Finding out that Danny lost out on Aaron Gordon and was aiming at Terrence Ross soon after? Terrible. Daniel Theis was out the door if he stayed through the remainder of the season because another team was going to pay him money the Celtics could not match, so not much you can do there.

I am hopeful that the Time Lord can step it up, just not sure on how soon he can become what the Celtics need to really contend in the East. Honestly, I think today proves that perhaps Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics do not see themselves making a deep playoff run and are looking ahead to the offseason *sips tea*.

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Shoot or Pass Podcast – Episode 56: 2021 NBA Trade Deadline Review, Winners, and Losers

The NBA trade deadline has come and gone and (for lack of a better pun)…it was LIT! Chevy, Gabe, and Rhoby break it all down, naming their STUDS and DUDS of the big day. Are the Chicago Bulls suddenly a contender in the East (15:20)? Is Victor Oladipo enough to turn the Miami HEAT back into title contenders (23:23)? Did the Denver Nuggets do enough to compete with the likes of the LA teams and the Utah Jazz (19:02)? Did Danny Ainge just let us know the Boston Celtics are punting on this season (32:50)? Just how fucked are the Houston Rockets (27:10)? The crew also analyzes all of the problems with the New Orleans Pelicans (49:29), what’s next for the Toronto Raptors (55:15), why the Dallas Mavericks should have openly shopped KP around (63:15), and Gabe reveals a conspiracy theory regarding LeBron James and his ankle sprain that will leave you SHOOK (06:09). YOU WON’T WANT TO MISS THIS ONE!


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Shoot or Pass Podcast – Episode 55: 2021 NBA Trade Deadline Preview and Jimmy Butler MVP?

The NBA is hosting a fire sale and we are all invited! Chevy, Gabe, and Rhoby react to the trades that brought Trevor Ariza to the HEAT (54:15), PJ Tucker to the Bucks (57:10) and play a round of Dribble, Dunk, or Flop – naming the remaining trade targets/buyout candidates they are high and low on for the 3/25 trade deadline (32:10). The crew also gets into a contentious debate about Draymond Green’s case for DPOY (09:20), including Jimmy Butler in the MVP conversation (16:55), and the better first option out of standout rookies LaMelo Ball and Anthony Edwards (27:45)!


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Shoot or Pass Podcast – Episode 54: 2021 NBA All-Star Break

All-Star break may be coming up, but there ain’t no rest for these wicked NBA headlines! Chevy, Gabe, and Rhoby debate over Kyrie’s take on the NBA logo (43:40), look ahead to the second half of the season, sharing what teams they think will regress (50:40) and redeem themselves (55:50), analyze the Clippers’ late-game woes…again (61:05), and discuss two guys betting on themselves and where their fates may lie in Victor Oladipo (65:40) and DeMarcus Cousins (70:40). Special guests and the 1-2 punch behind Bet Bot Sports drop by to break down the ultimate secret weapon to winning some extra ca$h this NBA season – the NBA Bet Bot (18:15). The crew also shares their picks for the big events this Sunday with another round of Dribble, Dunk, or Flop: All-Star Edition (76:35)! Check out the best daily NBA bets from the NBA Bet Bot on Twitter – @nbabetbot Follow Bet Bot Sports on IG: @betbotsports


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Don’t miss out on the action as we track the standings for you all season long always up-to-date

Shoot or Pass Podcast – Episode 53: NBA’s Pain, Studs, and Duds

PAIN. That’s what our resident Magic and HEAT fans Chevy, Gabe, and Rhoby are feeling as their teams continue their descent to the bottom of the Eastern Conference. But the show must go on, or so says the league as they confirm the NBA All-Star schedule and East-West starters leaving the crew with A LOT of thoughts (01:00). They discuss AD’s extended absence and how concerned the Lakers should be about it (11:05), what Jerami Grant’s productivity in Detroit really means (15:00), whether or not Rockets fans should accept James Harden’s apology (18:35), Kyrie’s most brilliant idea ever (22:10), why Danny Ainge needs to STFU (25:30), the renaissance of Andrew Wiggins (31:13), defend the apparent new foul-baiting King in the ATL (36:30), and they name their STUDS and DUDS (45:27) of the past couple of weeks!


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Don’t miss out on the action as we track the standings for you all season long always up-to-date

Shoot or Pass Podcast – Episode 52: r/SOPBets & 2021 NBA All-Star Draft

Whether or not an actual NBA All-Star game will take place this season remains to be seen, but one thing’s for certain- Chevy, Gabe, and Rhoby are ready to make a case for their top picks in SOP’s 1st 2021 NBA All-Star Draft (50:15)! They also tell you what team can become the biggest SELLER at the trade deadline (09:24), name who will be the biggest All-Star SNUB (32:12), share the best landing spot for Bradley Beal in case he changes his mind about staying in D.C. (14:30), why ESPN is WRONG about their top pick for MVP (21:53), and delve into the race for the 2021 All-NBA first team big man spot (27:01). The crew also draw inspiration from r/WallStreetBets, declaring what players they are BULLISH (39:00) and BEARISH (44:24) on so far this season!


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Don’t miss out on the action as we track the standings for you all season long always up-to-date

The Shoot or Pass Podcast from Baseline Times is your go-to NBA podcast for all updated coverage, news, entertainment, and podcast beyond the usual weird hot takes from major media. Make sure you subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and more! Welcome to our overseas listeners from India streaming on the Gaana and Jiosaavn app as well!

Shoot or Pass Podcast – Episode 51: MAMBA FOREVER!

MAMBA FOREVER! Chevy, Gabe, and Rhoby kick off the pod sharing their favorite memories of the legend that will always live on, Kobe Bryant (8:55). The crew determines that Shaq probably needs to get laid and stop coming after young stars (14:35), discuss the Cavs-Nets match-ups that have everyone overreacting (20:46), name the NBA teams that are better (25:00) and worse (28:58) than their records indicate, the disaster that has become the Washington Wizards (33:16), the disaster that continues to be the NBA Refs (36:22), what cities they want the NBA to add teams to (39:16), and round out the show naming their STUDS (44:17) and DUDS (51:45) of the first quarter of the season.


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Don’t miss out on the action as we track the standings for you all season long always up-to-date

The Shoot or Pass Podcast from Baseline Times is your go-to NBA podcast for all updated coverage, news, entertainment, and podcast beyond the usual weird hot takes from major media. Make sure you subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and more! Welcome to our overseas listeners from India streaming on the Gaana and Jiosaavn app as well!

Shoot or Pass Podcast – Episode 50: Return of the Kyrie?

In an NBA season full of twists and turns (and COVID), a couple of things are certain: the Miami HEAT are not playing up to expectations (16:20) and neither are the OKC Thunder (25:00). Chevy, Gabe, and Rhoby celebrate the 50th episode of the podcast by breaking down the trade that could have been in Philly (20:15), who needs to get traded in New York and in the ATL (28:15), the team in the East best equipped to defeat the Brooklyn Nets in a playoff series (33:35), and a “close” personal encounter that was had with LeBron James (39:25). Dribble, Dunk, or Flop is back and the crew breaks down who they are loving, lusting, and hating as TRADE TARGETS (44:57), SUPER TEAMS (49:30), and TOP YOUNG DUOS (52:57)!


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Don’t miss out on the action as we track the standings for you all season long always up-to-date

The Shoot or Pass Podcast from Baseline Times is your go-to NBA podcast for all updated coverage, news, entertainment, and podcast beyond the usual weird hot takes from major media. Make sure you subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and more! Welcome to our overseas listeners from India streaming on the Gaana and Jiosaavn app as well!