We have officially past the halfway mark of yet another great NBA season. As playoff races start to intensify following the all-star break, so do the races for the NBA awards. This year, the MVP race could be as contested as ever, while other awards seem to be shaping out as expected. Without a doubt, many players are deserving of such awards. But only a handful can wear that label at the end of the day. Here are my midseason NBA awards predictions.
NBA Awards Predictions
Most Valuable Player
Prediction: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Runner-up: Lebron James
There aren’t many players as unstoppable as Giannis has been in these past three seasons, and he’s continuing his reign over the NBA in 2020. He is currently leading the Milwaukee Bucks to an astounding 41-6 record through late January, good enough for first in the Eastern Conference. Currently, the Greek Freak is 2nd in points per game (30.0) on 56%, trailing only James Harden for the league lead. He’s arguably the most versatile player in the NBA, with his insane athletic ability helping both on the offensive and defensive end. His development of a three-point shot has given him yet another weapon to use against the NBA’s top players.
No one in this league has quite the power that Giannis displays night in and night out. His ability to get to the paint is possibly the most dominating we’ve seen since the Shaquille O’neal days. He’s starting to run away with the MVP and I don’t see him turning back.
Rookie of the Year
Prediction: Ja Morant
Runner-up: Kendrick Nunn
Zion Williamson‘s injury was detrimental to his rookie of the year stock. But what is one man’s disadvantage, is another man’s advantage. Injuries are never something that you like to see in the league, but Ja Morant has taken full authority over the absence of Williamson. Morant has exploded in his rookie year and his team is having surprising success this season. The Memphis Grizzlies are currently vying for the 8th seed in the Western Conference, a position that is bound to change numerous times throughout the second half of the season. However, even contention for the Grizzlies is a win. Morant is currently leading all rookies in both points per game (17.5) and assists (7.2). He’s not only scoring at an outstanding rate, but he’s doing it efficiently as well. Currently, Morant is shooting 49% from the field and 39% from three. Fantastic numbers for a first-year player. He’s not only become a top rookie talent but is slowly climbing the ladder of overall NBA talent.
Unless Zion comes out of the works and goes on an absolute historic run, Ja Morant has this award locked up. He’s the best rookie talent out there this season, and he more than deserves to be honored for it.
Sixth Man of the Year
Prediction: Derrick Rose
Runner-up: Lou Williams
Derrick Rose has had a career unlike any other. From MVP to the sixth man, he has continued to show resilience. This year is no different. He is currently averaging 19 points and six assists per game in just 27 minutes. His contributions have allowed the Pistons to stay in the playoff picture, despite a devastating injury to Blake Griffin. Rose has continued to prove that he has the skillset and mentality to stay relevant in this league.
Without a doubt, Derrick Rose’s contributions this season make him more than qualified for this sixth man of the year award. Although other guys like Lou Williams may be hard to beat out, Rose should most definitely be in the conversation come April. He’s my pick for the sixth man of the year this season.
Most Improved Player
Prediction: Bam Adebayo
Runner-up: Brandon Ingram
Bam Adebayo has transformed into one of the NBA’s top centers in just one season. Currently, Adebayo has helped lead this Heat squad to a 32-15 record through January, competing for the second seed behind the Bucks. He’s posted a 16/10 line midway through and there isn’t really an indication he’ll be slowing down. He’s nearly doubled his points per game since last year and has become a cornerstone piece for Miami.
The trade talks this past offseason have subsided and with good reason. Adebayo is under contract for another two seasons at an average salary of roughly 4.2 million. An absolute steal. He is arguably the best value player in the NBA and his drastic improvement has made the Heat instant contenders in the East. He has nowhere to go but up, and Adebayo has proven this year why he’s raised his game the most since last season. He’s my pick for most improved.
Defensive Player of the Year
Prediction: Anthony Davis
Runner-up: Rudy Gobert
This may have been the toughest award to pick. There are many elite defenders in the NBA that deserve this award. But, Anthony Davis wins it by a hair. Per 100 possesions, Davis is averaging 5.5 S+B/G (steals + blocks per game) with a defensive rating of 101. That ranks sixth in players who have played in at least 40 games this season. He’s an outstanding paint defender and can hold his own on the perimeter. Davis is one of a few big men that can guard against the three and shut down whoever it may be. He’s helped lead the Lakers to the best record in the West, behind great defense as well as great offense.
Davis has and will be for many years one of the best big men in the entire league. his offensive abilities are obvious, but his defensive capabilities have drastically improved over the years. Gobert will not three-peat. Davis’ defensive upgrades are just too much. He’s my pick for defensive player of the year.
Coach of the Year
Prediction: Erik Spoelstra
Runner-up: Billy Donovan
Another tough award. Coach of the year is possibly the most prestigious award given out, due to it being more team-oriented. Many of the times, the coach that wins this award has taken the team to the top of the NBA, which weighed in my decision. Billy Donovan has blown away expectations for the Thunder. However, since the 2000 season, only one coach of the year winner finished with less than 50 wins and that was Sam Mitchell with the Toronto Raptors in 2006-07 (47). Although I believe Donovan should be a legitimate contender for this award, but I don’t think he will achieve what is necessary to be recognized for his abilities But Erik Spoelstra will.
Spoelstra has also proven critics wrong, coaching the Miami Heat to a top seed in the East so far. The Heat’s win total prediction was set at 42.5 just 4 months ago. They are going to blow that out of the water by a good 8-10 wins. Hitting that benchmark of 50 wins is key, as we’ve seen in the past. If they fall short of that benchmark, the coach of the year award could be up in the air. Coaches like Nick Nurse (Raptors) and Brad Stevens (Celtics) could become the front runners. The Celtics win total was set at 48.5, while the Raptors was set at 45.5. Both of those teams are going to finish atop the East, so it all depends on where the Heat finish. But, if the Heat continue to impress the NBA and keep that “underdog” mentality, Spoelstra should be somewhat of a lock.
NBA Awards Wrap-ups
It’s tough to truly predict who will win what just midway through the season, but the trends seem to spell out a decent projection. There’s always room for debate when it comes to these NBA awards. So many great players are deserving of these titles, it’s just a matter of who did what to get a slight advantage. As we make our way through the second half of the season, we should see it pan out a little bit more. The NBA is far from clear-cut and I expect the second half of the season to be even wilder.
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