28 October 2015

2015-16 NBA Awards Predictions

The 2015-16 NBA season is officially underway as of Tuesday night and with that in mind, let's do a little award prognostication. Here is who I think will be taking home the major Association hardware at the conclusion of the season.

Season Predictions

Most Valuable Player - Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
New Orleans Pelicans (2014 - Pres)There is a number of reasons as to why I like Davis to break through and get his first MVP award. First off, Davis is already terrific as he went for a 24 points, 10 boards, 3 blocks and 2 steals statline last season. And now, he is playing for an actual coach in Alvin Gentry and one who employ an uptempo scheme that fits Davis's skill-set to the nose. He's in for a huge year and it will land him some hardware.
Runner-up - LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

Philadelphia 76ers (2016 - Pres)Rookie of the Year - Jahlil Okafor, Philadelphia 76ers
Given that the Sixers only have like a couple of legitimate NBA players, and look to be horrible once again and particularly on offense, that should give a player like Okafor to have a lot of opportunities to score. Given that he has looked pretty solid in preseason play, Okafor could very well average 20 points a game and those kind of numbers could seal this award for him. I don't think that being on a bad team 
Runner-up - Emmanuel Mudiay, Denver Nuggets

Sixth Man of the Year -  Isaiah Thomas, Boston Celtics
Boston Celtics (2015 - Pres)As soon as he landed in Boston, Thomas made a big impact on a team that lacked a go-to offensive weapon. The team took off with Thomas leading the charge, albeit from starting games on the pine. He should continue to be a great scoring threat for a playoff team and thus he should be as strong contender for this award. However, what happens if he is too effective offensively that Brad Stevens feels compelled to start him?
Runner-up - Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers

Defensive Player of the Year - Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
San Antonio Spurs (2003 - Pres)Even as he only played in 64 games a year ago, Leonard won this award and I and many NBA observers didn't have any issues with that. Why? Because Leonard was the best defensive player in the league last season. We tend to overfocus on big men for this award so it was refreshing to see an elite wing defender like Leonard get his due. I see no reason why he won't be a perennial winner of this award.
Runner-up - Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

Most Improved Player of the Year - Otto Porter, Washington Wizards
Washington Wizards (2012 - Pres)The rationale behind the recipients of this award seem to change from year to year, making this a little harder to predict. Porter could be a contender for this as the player who becomes a key contributor to a playoff team. He was a scrub as a rookie, started to come on late last season and now with Paul Pierce out of town and now with Randy Wittman using more of an uptempo offense, he looks to show some real gains this season.
Runner-up - Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics

Coach of the Year - Kevin McHale, Houston Rockets
Houston Rockets (2004 - Pres)Has the apparent past consensus on McHale's coaching ability changed. I'm willing to think that it has, particularly after he used his bench pieces well to lead that wild playoffs comeback against the Clippers. I think that the Rockets are in for another big regular season and that could help lead to a narrative that perhaps McHale is doing one of the better coaching jobs in the league.
Runner-up - Alvin Gentry, New Orleans Pelicans

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