We're already at the halfway-point of the NBA season as we near the All-Star break, so it's time to look at who have been the most and most impactful players in the league so far this year. Here's our mid-season MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Most Improved Player, Sixth Man of the Year, and All-NBA first team selections:
MVP: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
It's official - Curry has supplanted LeBron James as the best player in the world.
Curry's star has faded a bit since the Warriors' amazing win streak ended, but he is still clearly the best player in the league. Leading the NBA with 30.0 points per game, Curry is shooting 51 percent from the field and a ridiculous 45.1 percent from three while averaging 6.4 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game. Oh yeah, he's also the best player and clear leader of a team that is winning at a historic rate.
Defensive Player of the Year: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
The reigning Defensive Player of the Year has drasticall improved offensively (20.1 ppg), but his defensive is every bit as good as it's always been. On top of averaging two steals per game, Leonard has the ability to completely shut down the opposing team's best player, and has continued to do so this year.
Coach of the Year: Luke Walton, Golden State Warriors
Walton might not be getting the wins for the Warriors' 38-4 start - those go on Steve Kerr's official record since Walton is the interim coach - but he can still win awards, and there's no way you can give this award for anyone else. Some say this Warriors team doesn't really need a coach, and that my be true, but Walton set the record for best start in league history and has Golden State on pace to challenge the 1992 Bulls for the best regular season history.
Rookie of the Year: Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks
Porzingis has surprisingly been one of New York's best players this season, and has emerged as the Rookie of the Year favorite. He's averaging 14.0 points (second on team) and a team-high 8.0 rebounds per game, but he really seems like a star because of the highlight plays he seems to produce every single night. Now, he's putting up high-level double-double statlines more often than not.
He gets the nod over Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns and Philadelphia's Jahlil Okafor because of New York's team success. Expect his production to continue to increase as the season goes on as he gets more experience and more accustomed to the NBA game.
Most Improved Player: C.J. McCollum, SG, Portland Trail Blazers
McCollum has stepped into the starting lineup for Portland this year after starting a total of three games in his first two seasons, and he has delievered for the Trail Blazers, averaging 20.5 points, 4.4 assists, and 3.6 rebounds per game while shooting 43.5 percent from the field. That's a massive leap in production from someone who averaged just 6.8 points, 1.5 rebounds, and 1.0 assist per game last year. No one else can match that tangible improvement from a statistical standpoint, and he's running away with this reward as a result.
Sixth Man of the Year: Will Barton, SG, Denver Nuggets
Golden State's Andre Iguodala is in a right race with Barton, but the fourth-year man out of Memphis has been one of Denver's biggest contributors this year. Barton is averaging 15.2 points and 6.2 rebounds in 29.3 minutes per game off the bench, emerging as a key piece in the Nuggets' rebuilding effort.
All-NBA First Team:
G Stephen Curry (GS) - 30.0 ppg, 6.4 apg, 5.3 rpg
G Jimmy Butler (CHI) - 22.4 ppg, 4.4 apg, 5.0 rpg
F LeBron James (CLE) - 25.3 ppg, 6.0 apg, 7.3 rpg
F Kevin Durant (OKC) - 26.6 ppg, 4.4 apg, 7.9 rpg
C Andre Drummond (DET) - 17.6 ppg, 15.5 rpg, 1.5 bpg
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