The midseason mark of the NBA season has come and gone, leaving us with many surprise teams and players. With James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo each putting together historic seasons, who deserves the MVP award so far? Derrick Rose made a huge comeback this year, but should he be considered for the most improved player? I’ll answer all your questions and more.
MVP – James Harden
Don’t get me wrong; I am a huge Giannis Antetokounmpo fan. I would go as far to say that he’s in the conversation for the best player in the world alongside Lebron James and Kevin Durant but in terms of value for this season alone, James Harden is unmatched. I was just checking Twitter, where I saw that Harden had 57 points tonight, and I didn’t even blink.
It’s ridiculous the things Harden has been doing with the ball this season; it reminds me and much of the NBA world of Kobe Bryant’s season in 2006 where he averaged over 35 points per game. Steve Nash won MVP that year in a season where he averaged under 20 points per game on the way to a second seed finish in the Western Conference. Looking back, NBA fans regret taking the award from Kobe, as he was undoubtedly the most valuable player in the league that season. By no means does Giannis NOT deserve this award; James Harden just deserves it more.
Rookie of the Year – Luka Doncic
Prior to the NBA draft, I was very critical of Luka Doncic’s game. I advocated for the Kings to select Marvin Bagley and was ecstatic when they did so. While I’m still happy with the result of the draft, I will acknowledge that I was wrong about Luka. At the moment, Doncic is averaging 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists per game, a feat that has never been achieved by a rookie.
In Tyreke Evans’ rookie season, he became the third player to ever average 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists following Lebron James and Michael Jordan. Luka Doncic has had a special season and it’s hard to make a case for any other player.
Defensive Player of the Year – Paul George
The shortlist of candidates for defensive player of the year include Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, but I decided Paul George makes the biggest defensive impact on his team. Averaging over two steals and half a block per game, George is leading the best defensive unit in the NBA.
The league’s top defensive rating belongs to the Oklahoma City Thunder at the moment, and it isn’t even close. Alongside teammate Russell Westbrook, George is at the top of the league in steals per game. The best defensive player on the best defensive team should always deserve the award.
Most Improved Player – Buddy Hield
I have spoken at volume at how impressed I have been with Buddy Hield’s season. Hield is averaging more points, rebounds, and assists than last year while also ranked in the top ten for three-point percentage. Hield went from an average shooter on a bad team, to a legitimate NBA star on a team fighting for the playoffs.
A couple of the players Hield could be facing for this award include Derrick Rose, De’Aaron Fox, Pascal Siakam, Zach Lavine, JaVale McGee, or Domantas Sabonis. I’ve never been a fan of this award; too much subjectivity goes into the selection process. Theoretically, Derrick Rose is a shoo-in, but he only played 25 games last year, so it’s hard to justify giving the award to him over someone who made a legitimate improvement in their game like Buddy Hield.
Sixth Man of the Year – Spencer Dinwiddie
Spencer Dinwiddie ranks second in the league in points per game for all eligible sixth men of the year contenders. He also ranks second in assists while shooting nearly 50% from the field. The Nets rank second in the NBA in bench scoring, and Spencer Dinwiddie is the primary reason as to why.
As the bench point guard, he facilitates to the entire bench unit, while still playing notable minutes in the fourth quarters of games to keep his teams ahead during crunch-time. He is extremely versatile and does whatever the Nets need of him. Similar to Paul George’s case for winning defensive player of the year, Dinwiddie is the best bench player in one of the best benches in the league.
Coach of the Year – Mike Malone
Nikola Jokic is an absolutely phenomenal basketball player, but he would be nothing without Mike Malone’s schemes. Last season, the Denver Nuggets missed the playoffs. This season, they sit atop the Western Conference and could be considered the league’s only chance at dethroning the Warriors.
The Nuggets have always played a fast-paced style to take advantage of their altitude. Recently, however, Malone has changed their system into a halfcourt style of play that sees a seven-foot-tall center lead the offense. Receiving cuts and screens from Gary Harris and Jamal Murray make it extremely easy for Jokic to find his teammates and score for himself. Malone has always been an underrated coach; I’m just glad he’s finally receiving recognition.