With the regular season just one day away, every NBA fan is anxiously awaiting opening night for their favorite team. There are so many things to be excited about this season, and one of those things is the elevation players make from the previous year. Other fan bases are eager to see their team’s newly drafted rookie hit the court for the first time. For those of you who have superstars on your team, you’re looking to see how far he might take you into the playoffs. But ultimately every fan base wants to see their team hoist that NBA Finals trophy over their head when the season is all said and done.
Today, though, I am going to be predicting who I believe will win the individual awards at the end of the season. In addition to my particular prediction, I will add a list of players I think who could also win the award. So, let’s dive into my predictions.
Rookie of the Year: Last Year Karl Anthony-Townes won this award hands down. This season the race will probably be much closer for Rookie of the Year. Many people said this Draft lacked depth, but the top of the board had some pretty solid talent on it. So who do I think wins Rookie of the Year?
The player I believe who will win that award this season is none other than Kris Dunn from the Minnesota Timberwolves. Dunn has the ability to defend and distribute. Also, he’s a better scorer than Ricky Rubio. I believe that Dunn will be the starting point guard at the midway point of the season.
Rookie of the Year Rankings:
- Kris Dunn – Timberwolves
- Joel Embiid – 76ers
- Brandon Ingram – Lakers
- Buddy Hield – Pelicans
- Jamal Murray – Nuggets
Most Improved Player: CJ McCollum walked away with the MIP award last season and it was obvious why. With the loss of LaMarcus Aldridge, the Blazers were supposed to miss the Playoffs. But that didn’t happen. They ended up beating the Clippers in round one and falling to the Warriors in round 2. The Blazers didn’t skip a beat and got better. So when looking at other players around the NBA, I looked at players I thought could take their team to a higher level than last season. So who did I give the Most Improved Player too?
The man I believe will win Most Improved Player of the Year is Myles Turner from the Indiana Pacers. I know I’ve stated I’m a Pacers fan but I truly believe Turner has one of the best chances to win this award. He was impressing at Team USA’s Basketball camp. He is going to be Indiana’s key factor for success this season and he seems to be ready for that load. There are a lot of people I like here, but feel like Turner edges out Victor Oladipo.
Most Improved Player Rankings:
- Myles Turner – Pacers
- Victor Oladipo – Thunder
- Giannis Antetokounmpo – Bucks
- Devin Booker – Suns
- Dennis Schröder – Hawks
Sixth Man Award: Last season Jamaal Crawford won 6th Man of the Year for the Clippers and he looks to defend that title once again. It wouldn’t be shocking if he won it again, but I feel as if the race has gotten much closer with some teams strengthening their depth charts. Does Jamaal Crawford have what it takes to repeat the 6th Man Award?
I truly believe that Jamaal Crawford has it in him to repeat, but I’m going in a different direction. My prediction for the 6th Man of the Year award goes to Enes Kanter of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Kanter will probably be playing starter minutes but he lights up the scoreboard when he is in theirs. Defensively he isn’t the best, but offensively he can light it up on anyone. The Thunder will need a spark from Kanter this season with the scoring loss of Kevin Durant.
6th Man of the Year Rankings:
- Enes Kanter – Thunder
- Jamaal Crawford – Clippers
- Brandon Jennings – Knicks
- Zach Randolph – Grizzlies
- Andre Iguadola – Warriors
Defensive Player of the Year: Kawhi Leonard is the 2-time winner of the DPOY award. He is arguably the best defender we’ve seen in the 21st century. Some people view him as an MVP candidate this year but I still don’t buy into that hype. With that being said, though, I could see Kawhi winning his 3rd DPOY award in a row. Draymond Green will have something to say about that, but will he be able to dethrone Leonard?
Draymond is going to be neck and neck with Kawhi, but Leonard is just too good to dethrone of the DPOY award this year. So Kawhi Leonardis the 3 time DPOY award winner in my estimations. Green is close and so is big man Rudy Gobert.
Defensive Player of the Year Rankings:
- Kawhi Leonard – Spurs
- Draymond Green – Warriors
- Rudy Gobert – Jazz
- Avery Bradley – Celtics
- Giannis Antetokounmpo – Bucks
Coach of the Year Award: Last season Steve Kerr (and Luke Walton) led the Warriors to the greatest record in NBA History. That put him atop the list for receiving NBA Coach of the Year. The Warriors have a lot better team this year and I would be shocked if a coach with that much talent won Coach of the Year, but it would make sense if they finished with say 75 or more wins. I just don’t think the Warriors do that and I see someone else taking the award home this season.
The coach I see winning the award is Celtics coach, Brad Stevens. Brad has improved his team every season, but this year he will actually have a stud in the frontcourt with Al Horford. There were a lot of coaching changes this season and I can see some new coaches pushing for the award, but Stevens has the respect from every media member and other coaches around the league. He is a hard guy to not like, and he always finds a way to get the best out of his team.
Coach of the Year Award Rankings:
- Brad Stevens – Celtics
- Billy Donovan – Thunder
- Tom Thibodeau – Timberwolves
- Ty Lue – Cavaliers
- Doc Rivers – Clippers
The Most Valuable Player Award – I saved the best award for last. The MVP goes to the best player in the league and last year that was hands down Steph Curry. There are things I don’t like about Steph’s game, but he was truly the league’s best player in the regular season. In the Playoffs, however, we saw why LeBron James is still the best player in this league. With the addition of Durant, the case for Curry to retain his award has diminished. LeBron has been a lot of people’s picks this year for MVP but we know LBJ doesn’t care about the regular season as much as other superstars do. So who out there could win the award for MVP that isn’t LeBron James or Steph Curry?
I believe most of you would guess either James Harden or Russell Westbrook…but I took a big leap of faith on this prediction. I went with the power forward from Los Angeles, Blake Griffin. Blake is overlooked and was hated by many fans two years ago. With a down year last season, Blake is going to be more focused than ever. Not to mention, this could be the last time we see the Clippers core 4 together. With the 2nd seed in the West wide open, I think Griffin could be a surprise sleeper pick for MVP. Golden State is the “Villain” of the NBA, meaning fans will want the Clippers to shock the world and become the biggest threat to the Golden State Warriors Finals aspirations. Therefore Blake is my pick since he is the best player on the Clippers.
- Blake Griffin – Clippers
- Russell Westbrook – Thunder
- LeBron James – Cavaliers
- James Harden – Rockets
- Paul George – Pacers
So just to recap my predictions, here are my predictions for the 2016-2017 Season.
Rookie of the Year: Kris Dunn – Minnesota Timberwolves
Most Improved Player: Myles Turner – Indiana Pacers
6th Man Award: Enes Kanter – Oklahoma City Thunder
Defensive Player of the Year: Kawhi Leonard – San Antonio Spurs
Most Valuable Player: Blake Griffin – Los Angeles Clippers
I am beyond excited to see how the entire season unfolds. There is always a team or two that catches us by surprise and exceeds expectations, and there is always a team that falls flat of expectations. Only time will tell what teams made the best moves this off-season, and for the next 8 months or so, we will be thoroughly entertained by the exciting NBA Season.