The NBA is back. For the first time since last June meaningful games are being played in the Association. Teams have changed. There are players on different teams. There are new coaches. The game we love us back and it is time to make predictions on the most meaningful awards in the upcoming year.
MVP: Steph Curry
This year’s MVP award will be highly coveted. Every star in the NBA is vying for the award. The MVP race will end up coming down to five superstars: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, James Harden, and the reigning MVP, Steph Curry. LeBron has not won the award in two years and will definitely be hungry to win it again. Durant will also be looking to bounce back from a year full of injuries. Davis and Harden have never won the award and will be looking to continue to improve their impressive careers. But, in the end, Steph Curry will win the award for the second straight year. Curry has been magnificent and will continue to dominate the NBA. Oh, by the way, Curry has scored 40, 25, and 53 points in his first three games this season.
Rookie of the Year: Emmanuel Mudiay
Rookie of the Year is a difficult award to predict because it all comes down to opportunity. Obviously most rookies will not be playing a lot. I would love to say that guys like Bobby Portis have a shot at the Rookie of the Year award, but the opportunity most likely will not show up. This year the Rookie of the Year award will come down to three players: the number one pick, Karl Anthony-Towns, the number three pick, Jahlil Okafor, and the number seven pick, Emmanuel Mudiay. The reason these three are the top three are because they all will start as their respective teams need them to. Emmanuel Mudiay will win the award this year. Denver is going to rely heavily on Mudiay and he will deliver. He struggles with turning the ball over, but his scoring and passing has a ton of promise. He also has already had a year pro, as he played in China last year. All these factors will add up to Mudiay taking home the 2015-16 Rookie of the Year trophy.
Coach of the Year: Fred Hoiberg
This is another funny award because it definitely favors new coaches. We have a lot of different coaches for new teams in the NBA this year, including Billy Donovan, Scott Skiles, Alvin Gentry, and Fred Hoiberg. While guys like Skiles of Gentry could improve their teams winning percentages, guys like Donovan and Hoiberg have the advantage. Both walk into title contending teams with boatloads of talent. While some think that firing Tom Thibodeau was controversial, Hoiberg will prove that it was the correct decision. It was apparent during the 2015 Playoffs that Thibodeau just did not have what it took to overcome LeBron James and win the NBA title. Hoiberg’s offense already has looked great in the preseason and through the first two games. This change in culture in Chicago will lead to a Coach of the Year award for “The Mayor”.
Most Improved Player: Nikola Mirotić
The Most Improved Player award is one that usually leads to a transformation of a players career. They tend to turn into stars in the NBA continuing their Most Improved Player award winning season. Some of these Most Improved Player winners include Tracy McGrady, Gilbert Arenas, Zach Randolph, Kevin Love and more. In the past three seasons the winners have been Paul George, Goran Dragić, and Jimmy Butler. For the second straight season the Most Improved Player trophy will be heading to Chicago. Nikola Mirotić had a successful season in his rookie year last year. This year we will see an improved player with a bigger role. Mirotić will benefit from Hoiberg’s offense and playing as a starter. This will lead to a Most Improved Player award and possibly a new European star in Chicago.
Defensive Player of the Year: Rudy Gobert
The Defensive Player of the Year award is one that can easily go to the NBA superstars. This is usually because the stars are REALLY good at defense. This year the award could very well go to Anthony Davis. But, I have chosen to go with a true defensive rising star. This player is Frenchman, Rudy Gobert. The Jazz center prides himself on his defense. Last year he averaged 9.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks. He will continue to grab tons of rebounds and block lots of shots. Utah is very high on Gobert and so are many analysts. He will have a big year and it will propel him to a Defensive Player of the Year award.
Sixth Man of the Year: Isaiah Thomas
The Sixth Man of the Year award is tough to predict because a potential Sixth Man of the Year may start if he begins to play well. For instance, a lot of people thought that Nikola Mirotić had a chance at the Sixth Man award, but he is starting for the Bulls. The winners of the Sixth Man in the past have been offensive spark plugs including Jamal Crawford and J.R. Smith. Last year Isaiah Thomas and Lou Williams battled it out for the award. Williams came out on top, but there is no doubt that Thomas is hungry for the award. He is undoubtedly the Celtics top scorer and will be great off the bench for Brad Stevens’ club. All this will lead up to a Sixth Man of the Year award.