A tradition as old as time.
With a new season on the horizon, our NBA.com Staff reveals their predictions for the league's biggest end-of-season awards, from who will be crowned Most Valuable Player to who will be named Coach of the Year.
|Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles)||Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_)||Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay)||Benyam Kidane (@BenyamKidane)||Yash Matange (@yashmatange2694)||Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21)|
|MVP||Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks||Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers||Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers||Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers||Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers||Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks|
|DPOY||Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers||Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers||Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers||Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers||Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers||Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers|
|6MOY||Montrezl Harrell, Los Angeles Lakers||Dennis Schröder, Los Angeles Lakers||Dennis Schröder, Los Angeles Lakers||Dennis Schröder, Los Angeles Lakers||Jordan Clarkson, Utah Jazz||Dennis Schröder, Los Angeles Lakers|
|MIP||Christian Wood, Houston Rockets||Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns||Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets||Michael Porter Jr., Denver Nuggets||Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City Thunder||OG Anunoby, Toronto Raptors|
|ROY||LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets||Obi Toppin, New York Knicks||Deni Avdija, Washington Wizards||LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets||LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets||LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets|
|COY||Monty Williams, Phoenix Suns||Doc Rivers, Philadelphia 76ers||Mike Malone, Denver Nuggets||Taylor Jenkins, Memphis Grizzlies||Doc Rivers, Philadelphia 76ers||Monty Williams, Phoenix Suns|
Most Valuable Player
Benyam Kidane (@BenyamKidane): Giannis Antetokounmpo is rightly the favourite to win the award for a third-straight year, but I'm taking a new winner, and that's Damian Lillard.
Can the bubble MVP earn his first regular-season MVP?
Hear me out, only three players in NBA history have won the award in three consecutive seasons ... Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and Larry Bird, making Antetokounmpo's quest for a 3-peat a historical feat.
Lillard's numbers are MVP-worthy, averaging 30.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.8 assists on 46.3 percent shooting from the field and 40.1 percent from the 3-point line in 66 games last season, but the key for him here is team success.
With the Blazers bolstering their roster in the offseason in adding Robert Covington, Enes Kanter, Derrick Jones Jr. and Harry Giles III, plus the returns of Rodney Hood and Zach Collins from injury, the front office has surrounded Lillard and CJ McCollum with plenty of depth. After scraping into the playoffs via the play-in tournament, I expect the Blazers won't be taking the regular season lightly.
If they end up being a top-four seed with Lillard dropping monster scoring nights and 3-pointers from the logo, his MVP campaign will garner plenty of attention.
MORE: Explaining our MVP picks
Defensive Player of the Year
Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles): I know this is a regular-season award, but it's hard for me to believe that Anthony Davis doesn't have a leg up on the competition after what he did in last season's playoffs. While Davis was a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year last season, he proved to be perhaps the most valuable defender in the league in the Lakers' title run, proving to be the rare player who is as destructive on-ball as he is off-ball.
My only concern is that Davis and the Lakers will coast through the regular season given the short break between the 2020 NBA Finals and the start of the 2020-21 season. But if he's getting consistent minutes and the Lakers pick up from where they left off, he seems like a safe bet to win this award.
Other players who deserve mention: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Marcus Smart, Rudy Gobert, Ben Simmons and Bam Adebayo.
MORE: Explaining our DPOY picks
Sixth Man of the Year
Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): I honestly believe he got snubbed for the award last year, so I'll take him this year - I'm going Dennis Schröder.
Averaging a career-high 18.9 points per game off of the bench for the Oklahoma City Thunder last season, Schröder established himself as one of the premier reserve scorers in the NBA. He played a huge role in the Thunder's unexpected success, terrorizing opposing teams' second units. Being traded to the Lakers this offseason, Schröder should be poised to take full reign of one of the league's best second units alongside reigning Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell.
We saw Harrell and Lou Williams dominate NBA benches as a tandem, and two of Lou Will's three Sixth Man of the Year trophies came from playing next to Harrell. I think Harrell can bring the same thing out of Schröder, who will get the first Sixth Man of the Year award of his career this season, assuming he comes off the bench in Los Angeles.
MORE: Explaining our 6MOY picks
Rookie of the Year
Yash Matange (@yashmatange2694): LaMelo Ball.
I believe he's got the most potential and he will get more of the ball to show off that potential, which is critical to rookies making their case for the award.
This recognition isn't given to the most talented rookie or the one with the most potential but to the best performing one. Given Charlotte's circumstances, roster and depth chart, I believe Ball has the talent and the skill set to take this award home at the end of the 2020-21 season.
MORE: Explaining our ROY picks
Most Improved Player
Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay): According to BetOnline's odds, Jamal Murray is 16/1 to win Most Improved this season.
I'm not a betting man, but it seems like a long shot on the surface. However, digging deeper into it, there is a path where Murray claims the award. All we need to see is playoff Murray in the regular season.
Murray was spectacular in the bubble with virtuoso performances throughout the playoffs, announcing himself as a prime-time player. If we were to see the same type of performances on a nightly basis in the regular season, it would be hard to keep Murray off a talent-laden All-Star team.
Nikola Jokic is already there as a bonafide All-Star in Denver and the Nuggets are waiting for Murray to arrive at that level as well. This may be the season he puts an end to all the questions and silences all the doubters.
The confidence is there. If the consistency follows, we may be looking at the Most Improved Player in the league this season.
MORE: Explaining our MIP picks
Coach of the Year
Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): It's gotta be Monty Williams, right?
Williams displayed that he had the ear of his team as he led them to a flawless 8-0 record during the seeding games at the NBA Restart. To me, that was more than just wins and losses, as Phoenix's hiring of Williams signalled a culture shift within the franchise.
This offseason, that shift was taken into another gear with the acquisition of a group of veterans headlined by Chris Paul, who will help accelerate this team back into a playoff contender.
Should the pieces fall into place, it would be a major credit to Williams' coaching and would effectively put an end to the league's second-longest playoff drought, as the Suns haven't qualified for the postseason since 2010.
Restoration of a winning culture in just two short seasons is Coach of the Year material if you ask me
MORE: Explaining our COY picks
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