2017 NBA End of Year Award Predictions

Matt Sandell

Sports Management and Marketing Major Saint Mary's University of Minnesota Class of '17. Early adapter of daily fantasy, favorites to play are MLB & NBA. For DFS advice, opinions, and help follow him @RetrnOfTheMatt on Twitter

MVP

Prediction: Russell Westbrook

My Vote: James Harden

Although they just lost in the 1st round 4-1, Westbrook’s season will go down as one of the best ever,nba awards

without question. When I saw the news that Durant had

decided to choose Golden State this offseason, I half

heartedly thought….well now Westbrook can average a

triple-double…and lo and behold he actually went out and

did it in the modern NBA, a feat that most had deemed

impossible.

Game 80 against Denver sealed the deal for Russ as

MVP, down by one he takes a 30 foot three and ends the

Nuggets season in half a second. The look on the

Denver fans faces was priceless… the fans in attendance had the look of ½ “damn, our season is over”…

and the other half “holy shit, I can’t believe what I just saw”

Virtually no MVP in history has won the award without their team being top 3 in their conference,

but this year will be an outlier without a doubt. When the Big O, Oscar Robertson averaged a trip-dub in

1962, he came in just 3rd in the voting, so you never know.

Because of the incredible feat that Russ achieved and the added fact that his partner in crime left him

for the NBA’s villains in the offseason, it really doesn’t matter that OKC finished 6th in the West. After a

season like Westbrook’s he deserves an MVP trophy on his mantle.

My case for Harden was that when the season started, Houston’s starting five was

PG- James Harden

SG- Eric Gordon

SF- Trevor Ariza

PF- Ryan Anderson

C- Clint Capela

That looks like an 10th seed in my eyes in the tough Western conference, and Harden led them to a

better record than the Cavaliers and Celtics. Harden nearly averaged a triple-double himself, but was just a

couple rebounds shy. Harden also set an NBA record for being responsible for the most points for his team

in a single season(adding up PPG and APG) The voters will most definitely give it to Westbrook, but I’d say

probably 1/3 of the media will vote for the Beard.

Rookie of the Year

Prediction: Malcolm Brogdon

My Vote: Joel Embiid

If he had eclipsed the half-way point in the season, the award would be all Embiid’s, but 31 games just

isn’t enough to justify giving him the award. Embiid’s numbers through 31 games were borderline Hall of

Fame caliber, as he put up 20 PPG, 8.0 RPG, and 2.5 BPG in just 25 minutes a game. Many voters will still

vote for him, so you never know, he might sneak in there. This rookie of the year award race is probably the

most boring in recent memory, as the top favorites are Brogdon(a 2nd rounder) and Dario

Saric(international player drafted two years ago) both of which averaged less than 13 PPG. Brogdon was a

much more efficient shooter than Saric, and was a big part of the Buck’s success this season as they

surprisingly locked up the 6th seed in the East. Not too much more too add here, not a sexy year for ROY

candidates.

 

Coach of the Year

Prediction: Mike D’Antoni

My Vote: Mike D’Antoni

This one is going to be too close to call, but the more and more I think about it, there should be no

way Mike D’Antoni loses this award race. D’Antoni took over a team that had just lost Dwight Howard, had

their star player switch positions, and they still finished with a better record than the Cavs and Celtics.

D’Antoni taking this team on paper to a 3rd seed in the West might be one of the most impressive feats

a coach has ever accomplished…seriously. They dealt with several key injuries and had to adjust their

strategy several times throughout the season, heck Sam Dekker and Montrez Harrell were starting games

for them early on in the year.

Through all the challenges and injuries this team faced, they still managed to secure a three seed in

the difficult Western conference. The votes for all the awards are already in, but knocking off OKC in five

games just adds to the fuel to the fire, it should be D’Antonis award to lose.

He will most definitely win the award at some point in his career, but maybe not this year: Brad

Stevens. The fact that the reigning champs did not secure the 1 seed in the East still baffles me. Stevens was

able to take a team that finished 5th last year and brought them to the best record in the conference in just

one year…and all with their best player being 5 foot 9. Many voters may give him the nod just because they

were able to finish better than the Cavs and lock up the one seed, but D’Antoni’s situation & schedule were

tougher than Stevens’ and the Rockets still finished with a better record(and it was just his 1st year with the

team)

 

DPOY

Prediction: Rudy Gobert

My Vote: Rudy Gobert

This award could most certainly go to Kawhi Leonard again, who is still the best on ball defender in

the game, but the voters will want to switch things up and go contrarian this year. The Jazz’s meteoric rise

from 9th last year to 4th in the West this year can really be attributed to the paint protection of Rudy

Gobert.

Although the game is rapidly changing to more small ball and every game is basically just a three

point contest, protecting the paint and being able to contest shots without fouling is still a very marketable

skill and no one is better at that than Gobert. In 2017 there’s a statistic for everything, and the one that

jumps out at me for this award was opponent’s field goal % against any player in the paint was the lowest

when being guarded by one man: Rudy Gobert. Gobert also led the league in blocked shots and the fact that

Utah was able to secure the 4th seed will most likely sway the voters. Gobert’s impact on the defensive end

was really the reason the Jazz made the jump this year.

I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if the voters finally reward Draymond’s hard work and versatility with

a DPOY award this year. Green is the anchor of that Golden State team and most definitely deserves some

hardware for what he has done for that franchise. He did lead the league in steals and can guard positions

1-5 on the court, so don’t be surprised if the voters finally give Green a trophy to put on his mantle.

nba awards

6th Man of the Year

Prediction: Eric Gordon

My Vote: Eric Gordon

Whoever wins this award, it will most certainly be someone in a Houston uniform, as it is a two horse

race between Eric Gordon and Lou Williams. Gordon had an excellent rebound season this year as he just

never really fit in with New Orleans throughout his tenure there. Gordon took home the 3 point shootout

trophy home at all star weekend and should bring home some more hardware with a 6th Man of the

Year award trophy this season. 

Lou Williams had an excellent season, but a lot of his minutes came as a starter for the Lakers. Lou

put up close to 19 points/game and had an excellent season shooting from deep. He’s definitely one of my

favorite heat check guys in the league, either way a Rocket should be taking home this award come June.

 

Most Improved Player

Prediction: Giannis Antetokounmpo

My Vote: Nikola Jokic

This is another award that will be all over the place for the voters, but it shouldn’t be too hard for the

Greek Freak to get more than 50% of the vote this year. Giannis had an incredible season for the Bucks,

historic even, as he became the only player in NBA history to be in the top 20 in the league in points,

rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. Giannis went from having never been named to an All-star team to

being named an All-star starter at just 22 years old, that fact just screams most improved. Giannis

most certainly has a chance to be crowned best player in the NBA, when LeBron hangs them. He made

incredible strides this year under coach Kidd, as he switched to the point guard position, but he showed

super stardom last year towards the end of the season, as he had recorded triple-doubles in four

consecutive games. People knew Greek Freak was going to be a star coming into the year, which is why my

vote would have gone to Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets.

The Nuggets starter in game one of the season was Jusuf Nurkic, Jokic was basically an afterthought

at the center spot when the season started. Jokic showed early on in the season that he could pass the ball

like a guard and dominate the post with a 58% FG percent on the season. I think Jokic improved way more

in this 82 game stretch than Giannis did, which is why he has my vote this year. Jokic had an incredible

season in his own right, as he averaged 16.7 PPG, 9.8 RPG, and 5.0 APG in less than 28 minutes/game. It

will be interesting to see what kind of numbers he puts up next season playing 36 minutes/game. Posting

5 assists/game in 28 minutes for a 6’11’ center might be the weirdest/coolest stat I’ve ever seen as an NBA

fan…seriously.

nba awards

Matt Sandell’s

All-NBA 1st Team

G- James Harden

G- Russell Westbrook

F- LeBron James

F- Kawhi Leonard

C- Anthony Davis

 

All-NBA 2nd Team

G- Isaiah Thomas

G- Steph Curry

F- Kevin Durant

F- Giannis Antetokounmpo

C- Rudy Gobert

 

All-NBA 3rd Team

G- DeMar DeRozan

G- John Wall

F- Jimmy Butler

F- Draymond Green

C- Karl-Anthony Towns

 

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Matt Sandell

Sports Management and Marketing Major Saint Mary's University of Minnesota Class of '17. Early adapter of daily fantasy, favorites to play are MLB & NBA. For DFS advice, opinions, and help follow him @RetrnOfTheMatt on Twitter

Matt Sandell

Sports Management and Marketing Major Saint Mary's University of Minnesota Class of '17. Early adapter of daily fantasy, favorites to play are MLB & NBA. For DFS advice, opinions, and help follow him @RetrnOfTheMatt on Twitter

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