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2020-21 NBA Award Predictions

The NBA season officially started with some preseason action last night and the real games begin in just under two weeks! Crazy to think that we’ll already be getting more basketball so soon, but I’m sure NBA fans across the globe are extremely excited. There are a wide variety of outcomes that could happen with the NBA this year as it seems more unpredictable than ever before. Let’s get into my official NBA predictions for the 2020-21 season. 

MVP: Luka Doncic

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Luka Doncic has been my MVP pick since February and I stand by that today. With Giannis Antetokounmpo likely to deal with voter fatigue after winning two straight MVPs in a row, Doncic is in a prime position to take home the award. He put up absurd numbers last year and would’ve been a frontrunner for the award, but his team simply wasn’t good enough. The Mavericks have made a lot of good additions to their roster by adding Josh Richardson, Tyrell Terry, James Johnson, and Dwight Powell (was injured all of last year). He’s already proven that he can put up MVP numbers but now he has the supporting cast in place to carry his team to a top record out West. Doncic is going to be a popular answer but the reality is that it just makes too much sense. All the pieces are put in place for him to absolutely dominate the NBA in his third season.

Runner Up: Giannis Antetokounmpo

Dark Horse: Damian Lillard

ROTY: Lamelo Ball

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Lamelo Ball has to be the frontrunner for the ROTY award. In Charlotte, he’s got a lot of opportunity to put up excellent numbers as the starting point guard for them and should get a ton of touches right away. Not only that, but he’s already one of the most famous NBA players in the world and he hasn’t even stepped on the court yet! But looking more at the skill of Ball, he’s clearly a wizard as a ball-handler and playmaker and can do some incredible things in the open court. In the preseason, his jump shot was inconsistent but I think eventually he can be a serviceable shooter. The night in, night out consistency will be a huge test for him, as the scoring ability and defensive effort simply isn’t quite there yet. But a commitment to finding consistency and improving steadily each night will just make it so much easier for him to put up good numbers. Ball is not only one of the draft’s most talented and famous players, but he’s also going to get a ton of touches and could eventually become the lead bucket generator for Charlotte as the season progresses.

Runner Up: Killian Hayes

Dark Horse: Devin Vassell

DPOY: Giannis Antetokounmpo

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Defensive Player of the Year is a weird award to predict because you pretty much know who the top candidates are going to be every year. Giannis Antetokounmpo should be in a prime position to win back to back DPOY’s. He’s one of the NBA’s best help defenders while being an elite man-to-man defender. He’s extremely versatile and can cover multiple different positions on the defensive side of the floor. With Brook Lopez, Jrue Holiday, and Khris Middleton, the Bucks appear to be the best defensive team in the NBA. Antetokounmpo will be the best defensive player on the best defensive team, and should be rewarded for his efforts.

Runner Up: Anthony Davis

Dark Horse: Joel Embiid

MIP: Darius Garland

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This is likely my most bold prediction for the season but I’m a huge believer in Darius Garland. After coming off of an ACL injury, Garland was thrown into the fire as a rookie and had to be a starting point guard right away when the reality was that he wasn’t ready. He was extremely inefficient, poor defensively, and was overall one of the worst players in the league. However, he’s had nearly 9 months to work on his body and his game. Larry Nance Jr said that Garland looked like the best player on the team “by far” during their mini-bubble scrimmages. My big thing is that the talent is all there for Garland. He’s a great shot creator with serious range as a shooter and possesses solid playmaking instincts. I’m not a believer in Collin Sexton and I think Kevin Porter Jr will need another year or two to develop. Garland has a prime opportunity to become the lead guard in Cleveland and I think he has the talent to put up great numbers for them.

Runner Up: Christian Wood

Dark Horse: Cam Reddish

6MOTY: Gary Trent Jr

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The Portland Trail Blazers announced that their starting lineup was going to be Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Robert Covington, Derrick Jones Jr, and Jusuf Nurkic, leaving bubble breakout Gary Trent Jr on the bench. Trent was likely going to be one of my top MIP candidates had he played in the starting lineup, but I think he takes home a different award now that he’s the lead bench piece for this team. Trent is a flamethrower from long range who’s hard to stop when he’s on fire. On top of that, he’s improved his shot creation a lot and he’s an awesome perimeter defender. The Blazers are going to be one of the best teams in basketball next year and I think Trent is going to be a star bench player for them. 

Runner Up: Devonte Graham

Dark Horse: Danilo Gallinari

COTY: Rick Carlisle

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Although I do not believe the Mavericks will garner the top seed out West, I do think they’ll be right behind the Lakers and win a lot of games. Usually, the MVP and COTY kind of go hand-in-hand with one another. The Mavericks had the best statistical offense of all time with the help of Carlisle’s system. He’s an offensive mastermind who does a great job adapting to the modern game and finding the most effective ways to win basketball games. Doncic is great but the system Carlisle has put in place to help his team succeed goes underlooked, and I think he will be finally rewarded for his efforts this season. 

Runner Up: Mike Budenholzer

Dark Horse: Lloyd Pierce

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