The 2014-15 NBA regular season has concluded, and the playoffs are on the horizon. Throughout the postseason, players will be honored with awards, such as Most Valuable Player, Most Improved Player and Defensive Player of the Year for their performance during the regular season campaign. Several of the award races are hotly contested, so several members of the Society decided to discuss who they think is deserving of each honor.
Alex Fischbein (@ThatKidFisch)
DJ Allen (@DJAllen23)
Alec Walt (@AlecWalt)
Alfonzo De Falco (@FonzyDeFalco)
Kyle Allan (@KAllan441)
1. Who should be MVP?
Fischbein: James Harden and all of his glorious facial hair. This man is in the same conversation as LeBron, Larry Bird, and Michael Jordan in terms of points, assists, rebounds, and steal averages. He also has a ridiculous amount of made and attempted free throws, but that’s just a testament to his scoring abilities. Harden also leads the league in win shares while carrying a team that didn’t even have it’s second best player for 41 games.
Allen: James Harden. As much as I’ve been rooting for Steph Curry to win MVP this year, it’s hard to deny what Harden as done. His numbers speak for themselves and when it comes down to it, even though Curry has done great on the better team, I still feel the Warriors would be a playoff team without him. Take James Harden off the Rockets and they would be nothing; that means “Most Valuable” to me.
Walt: James Harden is averaging 27.5 points per game and has only missed one game this season. The Rockets have been one of the most competitive teams in the NBA strictly because of James Harden. Their projected opening day starting lineup has only played two games together. Harden can score all over the court and makes everyone around him better. No one has been better this season than James Harden.
De Falco: James Harden. He has done it all for the Rockets this year. Even with the injuries to Dwight Howard, Terrence Jones, and Patrick Beverly. Not only that, but they have also had players coming and going — like Josh Smith and Corey Brewer to name a couple. Despite all that, Harden is dropping buckets left and right, leading Houston to a 56-win season. Normally if you hear a team with all of those injuries and a lot of transactions, you’d expect them to be at the bottom of the league. It’s because of Harden that they have been able to compete in such a tough Western Conference.
Allan: I think Stephen Curry is the MVP in a very tight race against the likes of Harden, Westbrook, LeBron, and Anthony Davis. He is on the #1 team in the NBA and puts up 24 points along with 8 assists a night. These numbers may not be the highest in the league, but since he’s sat out a significant amount of fourth quarters, I’ll let the numbers slide.
2. Who should be Defensive Player of the Year?
Fischbein: Rudy Gobert wins the award hands down! Well, I guess his hands were up, but you get the point. All I know is that the stats are doing the talking – 9.5 rebounds per game (6.2 defensive), 2.3 blocks per game, 98 defensive rating, 5.1 defensive box plus/minus, and a 21.6 PER.
Allen: Draymond Green is getting my nod for Defensive Player of the Year because he does so much on the court for the number one ranked defense in the league. Even though there are things that don’t come up in the stat sheet, what he does on defense for the Golden State Warriors means so much. Whether it’s getting deflections or guarding multiple positions, Draymond does it all on the defensive end. He’s the motor on that team and a big part of why they are so strong defensively.
Walt: Draymond Green is a lockdown defender. His emergence this season has given the Warriors a deadly defense. He can guard multiple positions and has the quickness to stop the pick and roll and force tough shots. He has the versatility to defend in the paint and on the three-point line. He makes everyone around him better on defense.
De Falco: DeAndre Jordan. I was flipping between Anthony Davis and DeAndre Jordan for this but I’m sticking with Jordan because he’s played more games. Jordan started and played all 82 games this year while Davis has only played 68. Jordan is also the league leading rebounder and top-five in blocked shots.
Allan: DeAndre Jordan. I think DeAndre should get this award for his presence on the floor. He is a defensive rebounding and block machine. Averaging 2.2 blocks and 15 rebounds per game along with anchoring the Clippers inside, he deserves this award.
3. Who should be the Most Improved Player?
Fischbein: This award has to go to Draymond Green. He went from bench player behind David Lee to impactful starter at the four spot. He has increased his averages in points, steals, assists, blocks, and rebounds while shooting the best percentage of his career at 44.3%. Add the fact that he has a 109 offensive rating to pair with a 97 defensive rating and his case for Most Improved gets even better. If you ask me, the better question here is why shouldn’t Green get this award?
Allen: Klay Thompson. He’s improved every year since his rookie season and this year he got even better. Multiple 30-point and 40 -oint games, to go along with a 37-point quarter, how can you deny that? He is one of the best shooters we have in this league but he has begun to display that he has more in his offensive arsenal than just shooting. To go along with his recent surge offensively, Klay has been locking down on defense, which has put him in the discussion for best two-way guard in the league. He’s the second head of the two-headed monster that is the Golden State Warriors and there’s no reason why he shouldn’t win Most Improved.
Walt: Jimmy Butler has been a star this season. He has improved his points, assists and rebounds per game, along with his free throw and three-point percentages. He is slated for a massive pay day this summer due to his performance this season. At 25, he could still get even better.
De Falco: Draymond Green. Green has turned it around this season with his tremendous defensive presence. He is one of the reasons that the Warriors have the top defense in the league. In the 2013-2014 season he averaged 6.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.9 blocks per game. This year every stat has improved ,averaging 11.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.2 blocks per game. They might not be really huge jumps but with him now being in the starting lineup it shows that he has been very valuable to Golden State.
Allan: Jimmy Butler. Even though he missed a few weeks of play, Butler gets my nod. I think the improvement from 13 points to 20 points a game is huge. That takes him from an okay player to a very reliable player and scoring option in my opinion. He has also improved his three-point percentage, as he went from 28% to 38% between this year and last.
4. Who is the Sixth Man of the Year?
Fischbein: I’m going with the guy that has made an impact on two different teams this season in the sixth man role. Isaiah Thomas has played meaningful minutes in Phoenix and Boston this season. It’s not surprising at all that the Suns missed the playoffs without Dragic and Thomas, but it was a pleasant surprise to see Thomas help the Celtics clinch a spot. Thomas has done everything from scoring to distributing and the fact that he sparked a Celtics run gives him the edge over Lou Williams in my eyes.
Allen: Isaiah Thomas has had a great year and even though he has bounced from team to team, he has shown he can be explosive wherever he goes. He has given the Boston Celtics the spark they needed with an 20-11 record post All-Star break, clinching the 7th seed in the East. He’s that igniter and scoring threat off the bench that every team looks for and in my opinion, he has done that, and done it the best, all season.
Walt: Isaiah Thomas. This is a no-brainer. Thomas was averaging 15.2 points per game in Phoenix and is averaging 19 points per game in Boston. His presence off the bench is the reason the Celtics are in the playoffs. He plays his best off the bench and no one is better off the pine than him.
De Falco: Isaiah Thomas. This could possibly be the first time a player has won any type of award after playing a significant role for multiple teams in a season. While with the Suns, Thomas played in 46 games and only started once, but he was a spark plug off the bench, averaging 15.2 points during his time there. Once traded to the Celtics, he has made an immediate impact with the club averaging 19 points in the 21 games he’s played, not to mention he helped Boston to clinch a playoff spot.
Allan: Isaiah Thomas. Averaging 19.7 points for the Celtics, Thomas gets the nod. I feel that Thomas has alway been overlooked, but his numbers have always been there. He has performed on both the Suns and the Celtics in sixth man positions. Along with this, he has helped the Celtics squeak into the 7th seed of the conference.
5. Who should be Rookie of the Year?
Fischbein: Nerlens Noel was mentioned in the company of David Robinson, LeBron James, Chris Paul, and Hakeem Olajuwon in terms of stat accomplishments this season. That’s pretty deserving of Rookie of the Year if you ask me.
Allen: Nikola Mirotic. I feel as though it’s most likely Andrew Wiggins is going to receive this award, but my vote has to go to Mirotic. For a player that started off the season barely getting minutes to becoming a huge piece of the gameplan, he truly brought definition to making the most of your minutes. He’s played great post All-Star, averaging 16.6 points to go with 6 rebounds a game. Mirotic is on the more valuable team and is still putting up good numbers which is why he gets my vote.
Walt: Andrew Wiggins has shown flashes of his All-Star potential this season. Wiggins leads all rookies in scoring averaging 16.8 points per game. He has been healthy all season and this rookie class has been decimated with injuries. There isn’t much competition in the Rookie of the Year race.
De Falco: Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins has made an impact with the team from the start. He leads all rookies in scoring (16.8 points) and is top-ten amongst rookies in every other statistical category. This is an obvious choice for ROY and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for the 19-year-old.
Allan: Nerlens Noel. This is the Sixers bias coming out of me, but I am going to try to make a real point for Noel to receive the ROY award. He is averaging 10 points and 8 rebounds a game. He is the youngest player to have more than 130 steals and 140 blocks in one season, joining some rare company with that feat. Nerlens is turning into a franchise type player. He doesn’t need to be Anthony Davis, but he can be a Ben Wallace-like player and dominate defensively along with respectably filling the stat sheet every night.
6. Who should be Coach of the Year?
Fischbein: Kevin McHale, because nothing but threes and layups is a gameplan that I can endorse.
Allen: Mike Budenholzer. Taking his team from 38 wins and an 8th seed up to 60 wins and a #1 seed is very impressive. He’s turned this Atlanta Hawks team to the second best in the league and I don’t believe there’s anyone more deserving than Coach Budenholzer.
Walt: Brad Stevens. Before the season started the Celtics were projected to be so bad they would be fighting with the likes of the New York Knicks to position themselves to acquire Jahlil Okafor. The Celtics’ win on Tuesday clinched them the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference. The Boston Celtics are Brad Stevens. He is calm when they are winning or losing. The Celtics have blown everyone’s expectations out of the water which is why Stevens should be Coach of the Year.
De Falco: Steve Kerr. Kerr has led the Warriors to the best record in the league (67-15.) He also has helped the defense, making them the number one team on that end. He also was able to convince former All-Stars David Lee and Andre Iguodala to come of the bench which has made them one of the best second units in the NBA.
Allan: Steve Kerr. He set the record for wins by a rookie head coach. Along with this, he is coaching a team that is trying to shoot their way to a championship. People always say if you are just a shooting team, you won’t win the title. I think this may be the exception.