This NBA season has been filled with a lot of drama and excitement, from coaches getting fired, crazy trades, and the tightly contested MVP race. As we get to the end of the year, it’s great to revisit some of these topics and also see how the end of year award races are going right now.
To start, it looks like the coaching changes for most teams went well. With new head coach Mike Brown, the Sacramento Kings secured their first playoff berth in 16 years. Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla became the Celtics full-time head coach while also getting signed to a contract extension. The Lakers fired Frank Vogel and hired Darvin Ham, and currently sit at .500 and the 8th seed in the Western Conference, which isn’t as great as these other coaches, but notable nonetheless.
When it comes to the MVP race, Nikola Jokic is still the frontrunner according to the KIA NBA MVP ladder, as he almost averages a triple-double, with 24.9 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 9.9 assists per game. However, Joel Embiid leads by only two points in a recent NBA MVP Straw Poll by ESPN, and is the NBA’s top scorer at 33.2 points per game. Giannis Antetokounmpo is in third behind those two, but it will likely come down to the wire between Jokic and Embiid.
Milwaukee’s Brook Lopez leads the Defensive Player of the Year race averaging 2.5 blocks per contest and anchoring the league’s best defensive team. Jaren Jackson Jr. is right behind him, as he leads the NBA with 3.1 blocks per game for Memphis.
The Rookie of the Year has been locked up for Paolo Banchero since the season started. He’s run away with the award since he’s stepped on an NBA court for the first time, dominating and looking more league-ready than any other player in his draft class, with 20 points and 7 rebounds per game, winning the award is basically a formality at this point.
In the final weeks, the Most Improved Player award has come down to Lauri Markkanen, who has experienced a career resurgence with the Jazz, averaging nearly 26 points and 9 rebounds this season. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a great candidate as well, scoring 31 points a game this season.
As with most of these awards, the Sixth Man of the Year award comes down to two players: Immanuel Quickley and Malcolm Brogdon, both of whom have played key roles in making their teams playoff contenders.
If I had to pick a winner for each award it would look like this:
MVP: Joel Embiid
DPOY: Brook Lopez
ROTY: Paolo Banchero
MIP: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
6MOTY: Malcolm Brogdon
Tagline: “Hit The Post” covers the latest topics in professional sports, with a focus on professional basketball. Each week, Arkese Claiborne covers the latest news and topics from both on and off the court.