With the All-Star break now over and teams locked in for the playoff push, it’s time to look ahead to the awards that will be given out once the year is over. Here are my predictions for how things will play out over the last weeks of the NBA season.
Rookie of the Year: Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic
Banchero is having a really special rookie season, averaging 19.9 points per game, 6.6 rebounds, and 3.6 assists. He has the Magic looking ahead to brighter days and for good measure. Banchero is showing that he is the real deal in the league and will be the cornerstone for the Magic for years to come. He has separated himself among his rookie class and deserves this award completely.
Coach of the Year: Mike Brown, Sacramento Kings
I mean who else would this go too? Brown has the Kings in line to reach the postseason for the first time since 2006 and they are one of the top Western Conference teams. Sacramento is relevant in March and that all comes back to the culture that Brown has built since arriving. He has this team clicking on all cylinders and they are ready to take on any team out West. This is a franchise that struggled mightly over the last 15 years but now have some direction with Brown leading the way.
Executive of the Year: Koby Altman, Cleveland Cavaliers
Atlman has put together one of the better teams around the league and it’s headlined by his trade for star guard Donovan Mitchell. Cleveland has a top four seed in the Eastern Conference at the moment and they look to be a force come playoff time. Their drafting and quality moves over the last few seasons are now culminating with success on the court and it’s a testament to the vision of Altman.
Sixth Man of the Year: Malcolm Brogdon, Boston Celtics
Brogdon has had an awesome season so far for the Celtics and has been a big reason as to why they currently sitting towards the top of the Eastern Conference standings. On the year, he is averaging 14.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists. Brogdon has shown a willingness to do the dirty work for the Celtics and he is playing a little over 25 minutes a night. He deserves this award and should rightfully claim it if his work continues.
Most Improved Player: Lauri Markkanen, Utah Jazz
While I know that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander could be a fun answer here, nobody and I mean nobody expected Lauri Markkanen to blossom the way he has this season. We are finally seeing the potential of Markkanen on full display and he has taken a Utah Jazz team that was deemed to be awful and made them somewhat relevant. He has averaged 25.3 points and 8.6 rebounds per game and should easily walk away with this award in my opinion.
Defensive Player of the Year: Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies
Jackson Jr. has been special on defense this season and I give him the slight edge over Milwaukee Bucks center Brook Lopez here. Jackson Jr. is averaging 3.3 blocks per game and has been lethal against opposing teams all season. Not only does he block shots but he affects them at the rim on an elite level. Memphis is one of the better teams out West and Jackson Jr. is a big reason why.
NBA MVP: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Yes, I know that Nikola Jokic has a great chance to win his third straight MVP award and if that happened, I wouldn’t really complain. But to me, the MVP has been Giannis Antetokounmpo this season. Without Khris Middleton for a good chunk of the year, Antetokounmpo kept the Bucks afloat and now they are reaping the benefits. His averages of 31.3 points, 12.1 rebounds, and 5.3 assists show just how special of a player he really is. This will be a tight race between Antetokounmpo, Jokic, and Joel Embiid but for now, I give the slight edge to the star of the Bucks.