As the wild NBA season comes to a close, the 2021 NBA awards picture is starting to formulate. Every single award, whether it be MVP or sixth man of the year, has significant meaning to it every season. This year, in particular, it seems as though there are very few front runners in all of these award races. This makes the predictions late in the season that more interesting and these 2021 NBA award predictions are sure to get you talking.
2021 NBA Awards Predictions
Most Valuable Player
Winner: Nikola Jokić
This may be the most obvious award, as Nikola Jokić has really kept himself at the top of the race for the majority of the season. Currently, Joel Embiid is second favorite to win MVP, and many would argue his injury is the only reason he isn’t first. However, the Joker is having an underrated and historic season.
Jokić is currently averaging 26/8/11 on 57/42/85 splits, something really unheard of for a center this late into the season. Not only is Jokić having an outstanding individual season. but he’s leading the Nuggets to yet another playoff appearance as well.
Jokić scoring may not even be the best part of his game. Although his duel-threat from inside and beyond the arc is key to his game, his vision is arguably his best trait. The jokes before the season about the Nuggets playing Jokic at point guard were just that (jokes(, but in reality, Jokić could very easily be the primary ball-handler on this team.
Nonetheless, Jokić is putting together one of the best big man seasons the league has seen in decades. If the big man can someone achieve that 50/40/90 split before the end of the season, it may be one of the greatest MVP seasons we’ve ever seen.
Defensive Player of the Year
Winner: Bam Adebayo
This one may come as a bit of a surprise, but I think Bam is one of the more underrated defenders in this league.
The Miami Heat have continued their elite defense from this past season and I believe this is led by the fantastic defensive play of Adebayo. Adebayo really does have the unique ability to really guard 1-5, something a lot of solid defensive centers don’t necessarily have.
Adebayo and Jimmy Butler are really switchable all over the court, and it makes for some fantastic defensive basketball.
For me, DPOY has to be built on your ability to defend all over the court. Being dynamic on the defensive end is key and those who are a bit one-dimensional don’t necessarily impact the defensive side of the ball as well. Adebayo does exactly that and he needs to be recognized for it this season. He’s the DPOY for the 2021 NBA awards.
Rookie of the Year
Winner: Anthony Edwards
This is without a doubt the hardest award to predict, generally because Lamelo Ball was the runaway winner until he went down with an injury. Many of eliminated Ball from contention because of it and I am one of those people.
Anthony Edwards has been phenomenal this year as well, averaging 18 a game and fulfilling his offensive capabilities that many predicted he would translate from college to the NBA. There are many aspects of Edwards’ game that need work, however, he’s without a doubt been the top-scoring rookie this season and his output thus far is that of a three to four-year player. Edwards was picked with this exact game plan in mind, and he’s showing why the Timberwolves aren’t going to regret taking him.
It’s a tough award to predict, as you could make the case that even with the absence Ball should still have a significant shot at winning 2021 Rookie of the Year. However, I think Edwards has proven his ability to stay on the court healthy while maintaining a high level of offensive output for the entire year as well. You really can’t go wrong here, but Edwards is my pick in my 2021 NBA awards predictions.
Coach of the Year
Winner: Quinn Snyder
At this point, this award has to be given to Quinn Snyder and the Utah Jazz.
The Jazz currently hold the number one seed in an absolutely stacked Western Conference, which no one predicted at the beginning of the season. They’ve looked absolutely fantastic the entire year, with many of the Jazz starters having career years on the offensive end. Combine that with continued elite defensive play from Rudy Gobert and others and Quinn Snyder has really put together a fantastic cast of players that seem to mesh well with whoever they are with on the court.
Especially in the loaded Western Conference, the Jazz have really surprised everyone with their insanely good season. I think anytime you are looking for a solid coach of the year candidate, you need to look for teams that have surprised many and found success consistently throughout the year.
The Jazz check every one of those boxes and Quinn Snyder has really pushed himself into that elite coaching category with this successful season.
Sixth Man of the Year
Winner: Jordan Clarkson
The Utah Jazz have a serious possibility to take 3/4 of the biggest 2021 NBA awards, and you could start with Jordan Clarkson and the sixth man of the year trophy.
Clarkson has been a key contributor for the Jazz, averaging 17 on 42/35/95 splits. That free throw percentage is good enough for first in the league as well. The numbers aren’t as eye-popping as you may have thought, but the contribution Clarkson makes for the Jazz game in and game out is undeniable.
He’s the spark many teams love to have off the bench and gives Utah some great guard depth. Although his shooting splits aren’t as high as one may like from a six-man off the bench, Clarkson catches fire rather quickly and has the ability to flip a close game in a matter of minutes.
To me, Clarkson is the epitome of what a sixth man should be. An offensive spark that’s got a three-level scorer mentality. Clarkson has been extremely important in the Jazz’s continued success and he is the runaway for sixth man of the year in my 2021 NBA Awards predictions.