As the 2013-14 regular season comes to a close, we now have a better understanding of which players are worthy of the NBA's annual awards. Players like Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Blake Griffin have had stellar seasons while coaches like Greg Popovich and Tom Thibodeau have propelled their respective teams forward with outstanding coaching performances.
Now that the season only has a few games remaining, let’s see who is worthy of winning an award for their performance.
Rookie of the Year – Michael Carter-Williams
The Rookie of the Year race has essentially been a two-man race all season between 76ers point guard Michael Carter-Williams and Magic guard Victor Oladipo. Both players are key contributors on bad teams, but MCW has had a slightly better rookie season, averaging 16.1 points, 6.3 assists and 6.1 rebounds per game. Oladipo is averaging 14.1 points, 4.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game. Carter-Williams should take this award home easily.
Sixth Man of the Year – Jamal Crawford
Jamal Crawford epitomizes what every team wants in a sixth man – someone who comes off the bench and gets buckets. Averaging 18 points per game, the Clippers have benefited from the 34-year-old gunner’s production off the bench as well as his veteran leadership. Although he has started 23 games this season due to injuries to J.J. Redick and Chris Paul, Crawford’s superb performance this year in his primary role as a sixth man makes him worthy of this award.
Coach of the Year – Dwane Casey
Coach of the Year may be the toughest award to pick because there are so many worthy candidates. Some outstanding coaching performances include Rick Carlisle (Dallas), Terry Stotts (Portland), Tom Thibodeau (Chicago), Doc Rivers (Clippers), Greg Popovich (Spurs) and the list goes on. These coaches are all worthy of consideration, but if I had a vote I would give it to Toronto Raptors Head Coach Dwane Casey.
Nobody thought Toronto would make the playoffs, and most thought they would be even worse after trading Rudy Gay to the Kings. The Raptors have been a real surprise this season with DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry leading the way. Dwane Casey has led the Raptors to a 45-plus win season and a top four seed in the playoffs. While he may not be the favorite for this award, Dwane Casey would have my vote.
Most Improved Player – John Wall
This award is tough to pick just one winner as well. Countless players have taken significant steps forward in their respective games. Possible recipients include: Goran Dragic, Anthony Davis, John Wall, Lance Stephenson and Terrance Jones. While Anthony Davis and Goran Dragic are probably just as worthy, I think John Wall should take this award. I explained my reasoning on this topic in great detail in an article I wrote a few weeks ago.
Wall is averaging career-highs across the boards: 19.7 points, 8.7 assists and 1.9 steal per game while shooting 36 percent from the 3-point line. Not only is he having a career season, he made his first all-star appearance and led the Wizards to the playoffs for the first time in six seasons.
Defensive Player of the Year – Joakim Noah
Simply put, the Chicago Bulls are the best defensive team in the NBA and Joakim Noah is the anchor. The Bulls allow the fewest points in the NBA at 91.6. He is the team’s engine on both sides of the floor, especially on the defensive end. Noah is averaging 12.6 points, 11.2 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game.
Most Valuable Player – Kevin Durant
I wrote a week or so ago that Kevin Durant should be named the NBA’s first unanimous MVP award winner due to his out-of-this-world play this season.
Playing a significant stretch of the season without his sidekick Russell Westbrook and dominating the fierce Western Conference in the process is impressive. However, averaging 32 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game and leading the league in PER at 30.17 while doing it makes Durant’s MVP bid too strong to deny.
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