With the 2021 NBA season less than two weeks away, it’s that time of year. It’s time to make pre-season NBA award predictions and see how they play out throughout the year. Despite the absence of the newly annual NBA Awards Show in 2020, the player awards were doled out to those who were most deserving of recognition. That being said, let’s make our preseason 2021 NBA player award predictions.
2020-21 NBA Player Award Predictions
2021 NBA Rookie of the Year – James Wiseman
Beginning with the 2021 Rookie of the Year award, James Wiseman may very well be best positioned to win the award in 2021. He is arguably in the best position for regular-season team success on the Golden State Warriors than any other rookie in the 2020 draft class. Wiseman is also primed for a much larger role than expected with Klay Thompson ruled out for the 2021 season with a torn Achilles.
James Wiseman May Be The Most “NBA Ready” Prospect In 2021
Wiseman is going to have the luxury of playing alongside Stephen Curry, something the other rookies in the lottery cannot say. He will fill a massive hole at the five spot while shots are gonna be raining from the outside, even without Thompson. While some NBA fans may not have much exposure to the type of player Wiseman is, since he only played three games at Memphis, he will provide great size, athleticism, and finesse at both ends of the floor for Golden State. His style of play will translate to many blocks and rebounds for the Warriors.
If all goes to plan and Wiseman can play a vital role in the Warriors attack, there is no debating that he is a top candidate for the 2021 NBA Rookie of the Year award.
Honorable Mentions – LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, Obi Toppin
2021 NBA Defensive Player of the Year – Bam Adebayo
The Defensive Player of the Year award has been exclusively handed to a player in the frontcourt every year since 1995 when Gary Payton won it. This trend should continue in 2021 with Bam Adebayo securing the illustrious award. The Miami Heat’s identity falls on their defense. In 2020, the Heat were third in the league in opponent field goal makes, seventh in opponent field goal percentage, and ninth in point differential. The anchor behind those numbers was Bam Adebayo.
The Next Big Rim Protector In The NBA Is Here
Bam had a stellar run in the bubble during the postseason. Opponents had no answer for him on the defensive end, and he was a wall that could not be knocked down under the rim. The Heat were able to go on their miraculous run thanks in large part to their defense led by Adebayo and Jimmy Butler. Now, the team has reloaded their defense by signing Avery Bradley, which should contribute to a higher team defensive rating.
The Heat proved that they are here to stay amongst the titans in the Eastern Conference. If the team can finish in home court contention, and Bam provides stellar defensive numbers that translate to wins on the floor, then the award is his to lose.
Honorable Mentions – Giannis Antetokounmpo, Rudy Gobert, Anthony Davis
2021 NBA Most Improved Player – Jaylen Brown
The stars are all aligned for Jaylen Brown to take yet another monstrous leap in 2021. Perhaps enough to garner some All-Star consideration. When Brown was drafted by the Boston Celtics back in 2016, he was a raw, athletic prospect with not a whole lot of touch or skill set. His freakish athleticism and exceptional IQ for the game got him by in his rookie season. Since then, Brown has improved exponentially year after year, to where he has rounded himself into an all-around threat on the floor.
Going back to his draft status, Brown was deemed “too smart” by most scouts and executives, which is why he wasn’t as highly touted a prospect as he should have been. He has shown why basketball is such a mental game and how he has excelled in that aspect year after year. This past season, Brown averaged over 20 points a night while shooting 48-38-72. His shooting was a massive question mark coming into the NBA, and he has jumped to being an above-average three-point shooter.
Jaylen Brown Proving Why The NBA Is A Mental Game Above All Else
This year, Brown is primed for a larger role. With Gordon Hayward out of Boston, Kemba Walker likely to be slowly worked back into the fold as he rehabs from some knee issues, and a need for another scorer, plenty of touches are going to come Brown’s way. Brown winning the 2021 NBA Most Improved Player award must come with criteria for Brown to fulfill. He will have to secure an All-Star selection this season, the team will need a high standing in the Eastern Conference, and Brown’s numbers are going to have to take a jump from last season. This much goes without saying.
Is this out of Brown’s reach? Absolutely not. And it is about time that Brown gets recognition for the type of player he is as one of the best NBA players. If he has to win the award that literally gives recognition for such players, then so be it.
Honorable Mentions – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Markelle Fultz, John Wall
2021 NBA Most Valuable Player – Luka Doncic
Luka Doncic Is The Future Of The NBA, But The Future May Already Be Here Now
The NBA mantle is slowly being handed to Giannis Antetokounmpo. He has pulled down the last two consecutive NBA MVP awards. He may very well win his third MVP award in a row in 2021. However, voter fatigue is a real effect. Mainstream NBA Twitter likes to insist upon its followers, and no player is more heavily featured than Luka Doncic. Doncic is among the NBA’s newest phenoms and is going to help carry the league in the next 10-15 years. But, the NBA may decide to start that timeline in 2021.
Doncic is incredibly deserving of these NBA award predictions, even if he just replicates his 2020 season stats. He helped lead the Dallas Mavericks to the playoffs in one of the most efficient offensive seasons we have ever seen from a team as a whole. If one looks at the roster from last year, not too many names stick out like Doncic or Kristaps Porzingis. In 2021, the roster will be improved drastically, both with the new additions of Josh Richardson, Josh Green, and Tyrell Terry, among others, and Doncic’s continued progression.
At just 21 years old, Doncic has already established himself as a household name in the NBA. He is going to be at the forefront of the next generation of NBA greatness, as the league continues to get younger and younger. For someone who is still on his rookie deal, it may not be too long before Doncic receives much-deserved MVP recognition. If the NBA trends away from voter fatigue and away from handing the award to the Giannis, Lebrons, or Hardens of the league, then Doncic should deservingly come away with the 2021 NBA MVP Award.
Honorable Mention – Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, Damian Lillard
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