Jonas Nader

NBA Roundtable

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Roundtable: NBA Awards

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Hello and welcome back to the NBA Roundtable! Another regular season is officially in the books, so now it’s time to hand out some of our annual awards. I’ll start things off...


Jonas Nader (@JonasNader)


MVP- I’d have no problem with James Harden or Anthony Davis taking the MVP, but my vote is for LeBron James and that’s saying something as a die-hard Kobe Bryant fanatic. LeBron played all 82 games for the first time in his career, had arguably his best season yet with 27.5 points, career-highs in assists (9.1), rebounds (8.6) and triples (1.8), 1.4 steals and 0.9 blocks on 54.2% shooting.  He led the league in total points and minutes at the age of 33, and he became the sixth player ever to finish in the top two for total points and assists. Sure there were times when things were looking pretty bleak in Cleveland, but LeBron helped them finish strong with an 11-3 record over the final 14 games. The No. 4 seed means nothing and the smart money is on LeBron going to the Finals for the eighth straight time. 


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Most Improved- The Pacers were blasted for trading Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, but it’s fair to say they came out on top. Oladipo not only had a better year than George, but he led the Pacers to the No. 5 seed in the East and improved their win total by six games. Not a bad haul for a player who was going to leave anyways. As for fantasy, the NBA’s leader in steals has solidified himself as a top-12 player for next season. 


Sixth Man of the Year- He made 19 starts compared to 60 appearances off the bench, so Williams still qualifies and is the obvious choice here. The late bloomer waited until his age-31 season to post an All-Star caliber season, averaging 22.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.1 steals and 2.4 triples. The Clippers locking him up for $24 million over the next three years is one of the best bargains in the NBA. 


Rookie of the Year- “Fake” rookie or not, Ben Simmons is my choice after leading the 76ers to 16 straight wins down the stretch. Simmons put up 15+ points, 8+ rebounds and 8+ assists with a true shooting percentage over 55%, joining an impressive group of Oscar Robertson (5x), Magic Johnson (3x), LeBron James (2x), Wilt Chamberlain,  Michael Jordan, James Harden and Russell Westbrook (h/t Kyle Neubeck). With that said, I could make a really strong case for Donovan Mitchell as well and he’s making it easy for Jazz fans to forget about Gordon Hayward


Defensive Player of the Year- The entire Rotoworld Hoops crew unanimously agreed to give Rudy Gobert the honors. He had a 97.7 defensive rating (sixth in NBA for players who played more than 40 games) and blocked 2.3 shots per game (third in the NBA). 


Fantasy Asset of the Year- If you had Anthony Davis on your roster, chances are you won your fantasy title. Despite countless trips to the locker room, Davis made it to 75 games for the second year in a row. When he’s in a groove, he’s the best fantasy asset by a mile and I don’t see how you don’t take him No. 1 next season. 


Coach of the Year- Mike D’Antoni is the clear winner for me. The Rockets had the best overall record and the best net rating (+8.5), and the days of just assuming the Warriors will advance to the Finals are gone. The Rockets are no joke and are my choice to win it all. 



Steve Alexander (@Docktora)


MVP: James Harden

Yes, Russell Westbrook will probably go off on Wednesday and finish the season averaging a triple-double again, and LeBron James' 82-game feat was pretty amazing. But the Rockets are the best team in the league, James Harden is their best player, his stats are off the charts, and he should win in a landslide.


As far as Fantasy MVP goes, I'm going off the beaten path and taking my man Karl-Anthony Towns. In a year when so many guys missed so many games, the fact that KAT and LeBron James played in all 82 gives both of them a boost. And yes, I am aware that Anthony Davis was the man in fantasy this year. His owners are lucky the Pelicans were in a playoff battle all year. If that hadn't been the case, Davis would have made far fewer trips to the locker room, only because he would have probably been shut down weeks ago. 


Most Improved: Victor Oladipo - He probably deserves some MVP votes and it was great to see him breakout after returning "home" after a nice career at Indiana University. 


Sixth Man: Lou Williams - Dude is/was instant offense. An argument can also be made that the entire Raptors bench should win the award. 


Rookie of the Year: Ben Simmons - Yes, Donovan Mitchell had a great year and flew under the radar early, and I love him. But Ben Simmons has been carrying the Sixers with Joel Embiid in and out of the lineup all season, the Sixers have won 16 in a row when it really matters, and Simmons has 12 triple-doubles. To me it's not that close. 


Coach of the Year: Mike D'Antoni's pairing with Harden is a match made in heaven and there was almost no drama in Houston this season and I think they're going to win it all. And since Brad Stevens is going to get my Coach of the Year vote every other year for the next 20 years, I'll give this one to Mike D.



Michael Gallagher (@MikeSGallagher)


MVP - James Harden. LeBron's season was incredible, but the Cavs had so many struggles as a team while the Rockets were hands down the best team in the NBA.


Most Improved Player - This has to be Victor Oladipo.


Sixth Man of the Year - Lou Williams also has to get this award for his output in the fourth quarter while leading his team in scoring and dimes.


Rookie of the Year - Ben Simmons did play in summer league in 2016, but he still has to get it. It looked like Donovan Mitchell was going to pass him after the Jazz ended the first half on a tear, but Ballin' Ben has been too good since the break. He's also up on Donny for basically every non-scoring stat we keep track of.


Fantasy Asset of the Year - Anthony Davis. Period. You could make a case for Victor Oladipo, but AD has carried his fantasy teams like I've never seen before.


Coach of the Year - Quin Snyder. Much love to Dwane Casey, Brett Brown, Mike D'Antoni and Brad Stevens, but the Jazz passed expectations more than any other team.



Ethan Norof (@Ethan_Norof)


MVP - James Harden. I'm with Mike on the LeBron James front. 


Most Improved Player - Victor Oladipo locked this up several months ago. 


Sixth Man of the Year - I know Will Barton has split his time between starter and sub, but I really want to give him the nod here. 


Rookie of the Year - I've been vocal in my support for Ben Simmons, and it's not a knock against Donovan Mitchell


Fantasy Asset of the Year - Anthony Davis


Coach of the Year - I thought Brad Stevens had locked up this award before Christmas came and went, but I've recently moved into the Quin Snyder camp with all of the overwhelming evidence in his favor. 



Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer)


MVP - LeBron James. No disrespect to James Harden, but LeBron has been incredible this season, carrying a lackluster supporting cast on his back. He led the league in minutes played (at age 33) and averaged career-highs in rebounds and assists, while shooting over 54 percent from the floor. We may look back on 2017-18 as the most impressive regular season in the career of the greatest player of all-time. (As an aside, I'm shocked at how little MVP-love Russell Westbrook has received. He's not in the top-2 but he's definitely in the convo for third place. Imagine telling someone a couple of years ago that a player would average a triple-double for an entire season and likely won't finish in the top-5 in MVP voting.)


Most Improved Player - Victor Oladipo. On the day of the 'Dipo / Paul George trade, we all assumed the Pacers and Thunder would finish with the same exact record this season, right? Riiiiiight.


Sixth Man of the Year - Lou Williams. It was shocking that the Clippers remained in the playoff chase right until the end of the season, and Lou Will was a major reason why. 


Rookie of the Year - Ben Simmons. Look, Donovan Mitchell has been awesome. In the vast majority of seasons, he'd take home ROY honors. But Simmons is the clear choice here. He averaged 16/8/8, and he locked up the award in the final month. The Sixers finished the season winning 16-straight, without Joel Embiid out for half that time, with Big Ben nearly averaging a triple-double. 


Fantasy Asset of the Year - Anthony Davis. When you drafted AD, you thought to yourself: "If he gives me 70 games, I have a great shot at winning my league." Davis played in 75 games and averaged a career-high 36.4 minutes per game. 


Coach of the Year - Gregg Popovich. The Spurs won 47 games in the loaded West, despite having Kawhi Leonard for just nine games. That roster had no business making the playoffs this season. They had only two players average over 3.0 assists per game: Pau Gasol (their 37-year old center) and the corpse of Tony Parker.



Ryan Knaus (@Knaus_RW)


MVP - LeBron James. The gaudy stats and 82-game season have already been cited, but it's LeBron's uncanny ability to carry his team every night that gets my vote. This is a team that lost Kyrie Irving before the season, got 15 lousy games from Isaiah Thomas, lost Kevin Love for more than six weeks, lost iron-man Tristan Thompson for 29 games, blew up their team mid-season...and still finished 50-32 for the No. 4 seed. Contrarian pick: Anthony Davis.


Most Improved Player - Victor Oladipo. Given the opportunity to lead a team in Indiana, Oladipo stepped up admirably with career-high numbers in scoring (23.1 points per game), 3-pointers (2.1), rebounds (5.2) and assists (4.3), all while easily leading the league in steals. Oh, and despite the increased volume his percentages actually increased to career-highs from the field (47.7%) and downtown (37.1%). Contrarian pick: Clint Capela.


Sixth Man of the Year - Lou Williams. Sure, Sweet Lou's defense is awful but his ability to manufacture points was crucial to L.A.'s ability to stay in the playoff hunt until the final weeks. He not only kept defenses honest from the perimeter (2.4), but once again drew voluminous fouls. At 5.5 made free throws per game, he ranked 9th in the league, and the nearest bench player was Eric Gordon (2.8 per game). Few players approached the impact Williams had off the bench, and none did it as consistently. Contrarian pick: Eric Gordon.


Rookie of the Year - Ben Simmons. I'll be punting FT% to get Simmons on my teams in at least a few leagues next season. 15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, 8.1 assists, 1.7 steals and 0.8 blocks are simply phenomenal, with only Oscar Robertson hitting those points/boards/assists averages as a rookie. He missed one game and has been instrumental to Philly reeling off 16 straight wins despite Joel Embiid's recent absence. Contrarian Pick: Donovan Mitchell is the only other choice, but that's not exactly 'contrarian' I'll say Jayson Tatum.


Fantasy Asset of the Year - Anthony Davis. Center-eligibility is a key here, as well as the fact that he turned the ball over just 2.2 times per game -- half as often as James Harden. Elite, high-volume percentages from the field and the line, category-clinching blocks and rebounds, plus 0.7 triples and solid 1.5 steals per game, AD was ahead of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, Kemba Walker and most other players. Add in the fact that he played in 75 games, and it's hard to make a case for anyone else. Contrarian Pick: LeBron James.


Coach of the Year - Dwane Casey. The Raptors overhauled their offense, asked their two All-Star guards to accept a dip in minutes, and bucked the trend by running a true 10-man rotation most nights. The result was a 59-win season and the best record in the Eastern Conference. He gets my vote. Contrarian Pick: Jay Triano...I'm kidding, but the Suns wanted to tank, right? Triano took Earl Watson's 0-3 start and ran with it, giving his team the best draft-lottery odds and the worst Offensive Rating and Defensive Rating in the entire league. As John Schuhmann pointed out recently, it's the first time a team has finished last in both Off. and Def. Efficiency for an entire 82-game season.

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