Defensive Player of the Year
Pre-Season Prediction: DeAndre Jordan, Centre of the Los Angeles Clippers
Prior to the 2016-2017 season, I was under the belief that a big was due to be earning the Defensive Player of the Year award. So, in narrowing down the potential options, I found myself thinking that DeAndre being the defensive anchor for the Clippers, was ready to ramp things up further and take the award. He still is averaging a very high rebounding number, however, a slight reduction in blocks and steals per game, along with the low defensive efficiency rating of the team, gives me reason for pause in naming him the potential winner.
Current Prediction: Draymond Green, Power Forward of the Golden State Warriors
The defensive anchor for the number two team in defensive efficiency is Draymond Green. He made it clear that he wanted to be the Defensive Player of the Year, especially after being named the runner up for the award last year. He has definitely proven his point this year by leading the way defensively for the Warriors through his ability to defend both bigs and smalls and by being able to rack up great averages. He averaged 7.9 rebounds per game, 1.4 blocks per game and 2.0 steals per game with the latter two being career highs. He has been clutch defensively on multiple occasions throughout the year as well with key steals or blocks or just complete effort to stop the opposition. The biggest competition would have to be in the form of Kawhi Leonard who is the winner of the award the past two seasons. Since it was so close last year between the two and the fact that both respective teams rely upon their anchors to be high defensive efficiency teams, it would have to come down to individual statistics. Based on that, I would have to give the nod to Draymond Green to win the award for the first time.
Rookie of the Year
Pre-Season Prediction: Brandon Ingram, Small Forward of the Los Angeles Lakers
The number 2 overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft was Brandon Ingram. He was a really good college player in his one and done year at Duke, and showed flashes of potential to be a future star. Also, with the retirement of Kobe Bryant and no major standout at the Small Forward spot, it seemed like things were aligning for Ingram to make an immediate impact if given enough opportunity. However, it seems that he has struggled to adjust, especially earlier on in the year, particularly with his slender frame. He has improved as the year has gone on due to an increase in minutes, but overall, hasn’t been exceptional enough to win the award, even with a weaker than expected (at least to me) rookie class. Because he is still so young, there is plenty of potential to still grow, especially in the way of putting on size and improving his overall skills to be a star in the future, he just wasn’t the standout rookie this year.
Current Prediction: Dario Saric, Power Forward of the Philadelphia 76ers
Although he was drafted in 2014, injuries in his first two years forced Joel Embiid to miss complete seasons and didn’t get the chance to play until this current season where he was exceptional averaging 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.9 steals and 2.5 blocks. However, because of further injuries, his season was short lived and lasted only 31 games, so, it is hard to give him the award based on the fact alone that he was unable to play even half the season. If he had, I would definitely think he is more than deserving of being named Rookie of the Year, but I just feel not enough games were played to warrant a year long award to be given.
Therefore, who I believe has shown to be the Rookie of the Year, especially as of late, would have to be Embiid’s teammate, Dario Saric. He was drafted in 2014 as well, but as an international player, was stashed away overseas to develop and only made the jump to the NBA this season. Similar to Ingram and many other rookies, he started out slow especially while being in and out of the starting lineup. However, in the past few months where he has become a staple in the starting lineup, he has come on really strong with his scoring and all-around game. All his statistical categories have steadily increased, along with his comfort level, to average 17.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game since the All-Star break where I believe that he has become the frontrunner for the Rookie of the Year award.
Coach of the Year
Pre-Season Prediction: Terry Stotts, Coach of the Portland Trail Blazers
Falling in line with my Most Valuable Player of the Year Pre-Season prediction, Damian Lillard, I thought the team would overall be contending for a top 3 spot in the west to bolster the case for Stotts to win Coach of the Year. However, the struggles of the team and the tight race they endured to simply make the playoffs as the 8 seed means that it is highly unlikely for Stotts to win the award. Especially because of the drop off the team has had in comparison to last year from being the 5 seed at 44-38 to finishing at 41-41 for the year. To me, it is quite the surprise considering the fact that the roster of the team remained the same for the most part this season, up until the trade of Plumlee for Nurkic. Defensive struggles have been a big part of the slight dropoff this season, although having Nurkic improved it a bit, but, is what will need to be addressed in the offseason in order for the team to improve going forward.
Current Prediction: Quin Snyder, Coach of the Utah Jazz
Since being hired before the 2014-2015 NBA season, the Utah Jazz have shown great promise, especially defensively through being among the league leaders in points allowed per game. That trend has continued, but what’s been a key to greater success this season is through the offensive improvement of the team. This has led to a steady improvement in overall record to now where they improved by 11 games from last year, clinched the division and the 5 seed in the West. A lot of the credit has to go to Quin Snyder and his staff to work on and develop the team for the system he wants to implement and it is clearly starting to click more and more. Since they were able to stay in the top 5 in the West with clear improvements of the team, I believe that Quin Snyder is more than deserving to win the award for Coach of the Year.
– Deejay (The Middle Fro)