The majority of NBA teams are either at the halfway mark of the season or are close to that point. So far, many players have made their cases to earn respective awards. With the season about to be at the halfway point for all teams, let’s take a look at who has earned each award so far.
NBA Award Predictions Through the Halfway Mark
MVP: James Harden
I mean, is there really anyone else to put here? Before the season started, some looked at the Rockets as a team that would barely make the playoffs. Instead, they turned things around from last season and are currently 31-9, which is tied for the 2nd seed in the Western Conference. On the season, Harden is currently averaging 28.5 PPG, 11.8 RPG, and 8.4 RPG. His numbers have skyrocketed since head coach Mike D’Antoni decided to move Harden to point guard. While Russell Westbrook has had all of the triple doubles this season, the Rockets have a better record, and the MVP usually goes to the teams that have better records. Harden has taken the Rockets to new heights this season, and there’s no reason that they can’t make it to the Conference Finals.
Defensive Player of the Year: Kawhi Leonard
This award is a toss-up between many players. But at the end of the day, Leonard has the slight advantage over everyone else. His ability to guard the opposing team’s best player for an entire game is really remarkable to see. His length really makes it harder for players to get around him and take their normal shots. Leonard’s ability to make the opposing player uncomfortable stands out. If he ends up winning the award this year, it will be the third time in Leonard’s career that he has received this award.
Coach of the Year: Mike D’Antoni
This one should also be a no-brainer for most people. Coach D’Antoni’ s decision to move Harden to the point guard is what has put the Rockets over the top in the Western Conference. Him and Harden have become a perfect match, just as he was with Steve Nash during his tenure with the Phoenix Suns. While D’Antoni’s past two stops in New York and Los Angeles have been underwhelming, it was simply because the players he had were not the proper fit for his system. But now, in Houston, D’Antoni has all of the pieces he needs, and it goes far beyond just Harden. Right now, he has to be the frontrunner for the Coach of the Year.
Most Improved Player: Giannis Antetokounmpo
This season, the Greek Freak was almost moved to the point guard position. With the move, all of his numbers have taken a boost. He averages 23.3 PPG this season after averaging 16.9 last season, which is the biggest boost in his stats. He has also upped his RPG and APG. At 6’11, he has been a nightmare for the rest of the league with his length and ability to finish. There has also been a solid improvement in Antetokounmpo’s jump shot this season, which was one of the more noticeable flaws in his game. When his jump shot is falling, it is nearly impossible to stop him. He has taken the league by storm, and it is a scary thought to think that he is only 21 years old.
Sixth Man of the Year: Eric Gordon
The Rockets are basically taking over the NBA awards this season. Gordon coming off the bench for the Rockets has done wonders for them this season. When the starting five is off to a slow start, they can throw in Gordon and he gets things going for the team. Not only has his shooting been a big factor, but his playmaking ability has taken some of the workload off of Harden. Every single night, Gordon comes off the bench and produces for the team. There are even some nights where he is the leading scorer for the team. He is finally healthy, which could be the biggest reason why he is playing at a level that many expect him to.
Rookie of the Year: Joel Embiid
I really want to just say “Trust the Process” and end it at that, but that’s not how this writing stuff works. Finally, Embiid is healthy. It took two years for him to get on the court, but it was worth the wait. Since he didn’t play in any games his first two seasons, Embiid is eligible to win Rookie of the Year this season. So far, he is running away with the award. He has done it all for the Sixers on the court while being on a minutes restriction. His ability to stretch the floor has done wonders for the 76ers. In less than 30 MPG, Embiid is averaging 19.4 PPG, 7.3 RPG, and 2.4 BPG. It’s scary to imagine the type of numbers he can put up without a minutes restriction. So yes, it is smart to Trust the Process.
James Harden Houston Rockets (Photo by Mark Downey Lucid Images/Corbis via Getty Images)