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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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NBA Studs and Duds from the first weekend of the season restart

One weekend down and many to go. Our Shoot or Pass Podcast Co-Hosts will be sharing their Studs and Duds right here. Who impressed and who disappointed? Find out below!

STUDS

Chevy – Damian Lillard

While we’ve witnessed a win and a loss from the Blazers, Dame is making NBA headlines. Dame means business in the bubble. He’s not here to play just 2 weeks and 8 games of basketball, he plans on sticking around for a deep run. He’s playing playoff minutes (45 vs. the Grizzlies, 44 vs. the Celtics) and is averaging about 30 points each game (29 vs. the Grizzlies, 30 vs. the Celtics). Unfortunately, the Blazers lost yesterday after a big on Friday, but the goal here is to get within 4 games of the 8th seed to force a play-in. I think Dame can keep them hanging around for it.

Rhoby – Kyle Lowry

KYLEFORNIA knows how to party! Lebronto is no more, as Lebron and the Lakers were bullied around by Kyle Lowry Friday night. NBA players are supposed to be breaking down by their mid-30s and undersized guards aren’t supposed to be hitting threes with a 7-footer in their face or making an impact as a rim protector, however, Kyle Lowry isn’t getting the memo. He scored a game-high 33 points, nabbed a career-high 14 rebounds, and has 6 assists. I am sold. The Raptors are a force to be reckoned with in this NBA Restart.

DUDS

Chevy – Zion Williamson

I know I have to tread carefully here because this is the NBA’s new poster boy, but if I’m Adam Silver you want him to be seen and on the floor. What is his deal? A month or two ago, a picture of Zion surfaced on social media and he looked like he was in great shape and ready to lead the Pelicans to the playoffs. Needless to say, I don’t understand the way Alvin Gentry is restricting his minutes. In the loss to the Jazz, Zion was on the bench for a crucial 4th quarter. Wouldn’t you want the best player on your team to be playing in those scenarios? Definitely a concern for a rising star on a team fighting for playoff spot.

Rhoby – Shake Milton

To begin with, this stat line says it all – 0 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists. NOT a good look for the new starting PG of a Sixers. This team appears to be failing expectations. What’s new? He appeared to have no command of the ball, only took one shot in the game in the 4th quarter, made some bad turnovers, and found himself in foul trouble. He focused on racial injustice in post-game comments, which is great, but I hope he’s also focusing on his game going forward because the Sixers need him to show up if they want to make noise in the playoffs!

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We The North: Done for the season

Wow, what a difference one year can make. All the momentum and pride of last season’s playoff run wiped away or will be Sunday. I’m not even going to go into this with dynamic sounding words to make it sound more than what this was. The Toronto Raptors in the playoffs are about as reliable as one ply toilet paper on taco night.

Game four was the first game of the Eastern Conference Semifinals series in Toronto. A chance for the Raptors to dig in and get a win at home was hopeless in the fourth quarter. After an ankle injury in the previous game the Raptors were hoping to have Kyle Lowry back to help the team in some capacity despite his frequent disappearances come the post season It looked as though he would return but later revealed by Casey postgame of continued discomfort.

The first half of play was as completive as any playoff basketball game, timely shots by the likes of Jonas Valencuinas and crowd igniting dunks by Serge Ibaka and Norman Powell. As for the 139 million dollar man

DeMar Derozan, he was an inspiration to the team proving that the mid-range game was not extinct in the NBA catching fire and going for 21 in the first half giving his best Russell Westbrook impression going to work as the team’s lone all star on the court tonight. Even with DeRozan’s brilliant play, it was evident that this game was an uphill battle for the Raptors despite closing the half capped off by an emphatic block on Iman Shumpert by Ibaka.

The second half of the game concluded in similar a fashion of the two on the road Toronto tried it hardest but the gap between the two teams was on full display. Lebron James and the Cavaliers shot from all over the court, coming into this game there was an 84 point disparity from three in favor of the Cavs adding another 39 points from deep on just under 57-percent. DeRozan continued to put points on the board finishing with a playoff career-high of 37 and gasping for air in the fourth primarily due to his team’s inability to be effective without out him the Raptors bench for the game scored nine points due to either the Cleveland dominate or possible ineptitude powerhouse. Many myself included thought last year was a sign of brighter roads to come, but in the age of the super-team, the Raptors are now a dinosaur (no pun intended). The series is more than likely done and game four is the last shot for the Toronto team to show some pride. With the abysmal performance, this season it’s hard to say what lies in store for the Toronto franchise this coming offseason but one thing is for sure moves will be made but only time will tell who will go if any.