2019-2020 Regular Season Major Awards


With the rest of the 2019-2020 NBA season covered with uncertainty due to the global pandemic, it is unclear if the NBA will return, and if it does, it is becoming more and more unlikely that the regular season will be played out to completion. At this time, the most likely outcome is that the league will move directly toward a postseason which will no doubt be altered as well. With this in mind, we thought now would be as good of a time as any to determine our picks for each of the NBA awards. Some decisions were easier than others, but we have narrowed down our top 3 picks for each of the 6 NBA award categories.


MVP


3. Luka Doncic

| 28.7 PPG | 8.7 APG | 9.3 RPG | 1.1 SPG | 0.2 BPG | 58.4% TS |


There are only 6 players ever to average 27 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists with 57% true shooting in a season. Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Larry Bird, Oscar Robertson, James Harden, and now Luka Doncic. Not Only has Luka achieved this terrific milestone but at just age 20 in only his second NBA season. Luka led his team to the 7th seed in the western conference and he led the best offensive rating in not only the league, but the history of the NBA. In the first half of the season, Luka was on track to end the season with a 30-point triple-double. An injury to his ankle caused him to miss some time and his stats fizzled slightly in the latter half of the season but there is no question that Luka was invaluable to the Mavericks as they recorded a 6-7 record without him, dropping in the standings. In addition to his team accolades, Luka earned himself a starting spot in his first all-star game this year. There is no doubt that while Luka will not win the MVP award this year, he deserves some serious credit for everything he’s contributed to his team and is a lock in my eyes for multiple MVP awards in his career.


2. LeBron James

| 25.7 PPG | 10.6 APG | 7.9 RPG | 1.2 SPG | 0.5 BPG | 58.2% TS |


This season LeBron James has once again beaten father time in an incredible 17th season in the NBA. He has put up incredible numbers, leading the league in assists with 10.6 APG (career-high) and leading the Lakers to the number 1 seed in the west with a 49-14 record, after a disappointing, injury plagued season last year. While his personal statistics alone are enough to warrant him 2nd place on the MVP ballot, he has expressed incredible veteran leadership by making all the players around him better. LeBron’s number 2 man, Anthony Davis has had his own top-5 MVP worthy season working under the mentorship of James. Players like Dwight Howard have also become solid contributors playing with LeBron. James has proven he can still be the best player while sharing the court with Giannis and Kawhi and improving his MVP stock drastically in the second half of the season but despite his incredible season, LeBron has only done enough to be runner up in this case.


1. Giannis Antetokounmpo

| 29.6 PPG | 5.8 APG | 13.7 RPG | 1.0 SPG | 1.0 BPG | 60.8% TS |


There is only one clear leader in the race for the MVP this season and that is none other than Giannis Antetokounmpo. He is tipped to win his second straight MVP award after improving in almost every statistical category since winning the award last season. He has become the most dominant offensive force in the league, combined with his elite defensive makes him the most unstoppable player in the NBA. Despite ranking only 73rd in minutes per game this season, Giannis finished the season top-2 in the league in PER, OPBM, DBPM, VORP and win shares. He has led the best team in the NBA with one of the best defences in the modern history of the game. By some statistical categories, this was one of the 10 best seasons in NBA history. There is no doubt Antetokounmpo deserve to and will take home the 2019-2020 MVP award.


Rookie of the Year


3. Kendrick Nunn


| 15.6 PPG | 3.4 APG | 2.7 RPG | 0.8 SPG | 0.2 BPG | 54.5% TS |


Kendrick Nunn is an older rookie at 24 years of age after working his way to the NBA through a long and tough path. He turned out to be worth the risk for the Miami Heat this year, instantly making an impact and earning himself the starting position for all 62 of his NBA appearances. Unlike other players on this list, Nunn was an unexpected star in this draft class as he has been a very solid starting point guard for a playoff team with home-court advantage which is extremely rare for an undrafted rookie player. He has a bright future ahead of him at Miami and displays room for growth to become one of the top players on this team in the future.


2. Zion Williamson


| 23.6 PPG | 2.2 APG | 6.8 RPG | 0.8 SPG | 0.5 BPG | 62.4% TS |


Zion Williamson came into his rookie season as the unanimous number one pick and overwhelming favourite to win this award. Unfortunately, his debut was delayed after injury and Zion was unable to play enough games to earn him rookie of the year. Having said this, Zion instantly made an impact as an explosive, unstoppable force on the offensive end. He struggled a lot on the defensive end and left a lot to be desired with his playmaking but still maintained a positive plus/minus and made a noticeable impact on his team whenever he was on the floor. Zion proved he can become one of the best offensive players in the league if he can keep himself healthy. The only way Williamson could have won this award would be if he were able to single-handedly lift the Pelicans to the playoffs and get the better of Morant in their nationally televised games. Unfortunately for Zion, his late start combined with the early suspension of the season due to the global pandemic, he did not get the chance to earn the rookie of the year award.


1. Ja Morant


| 17.6 PPG | 6.9 APG | 3.5 RPG | 0.9 SPG | 0.3 BPG | 56.8% TS |


Ja Morant has led the race for rookie of the year all season long. He instantly made an impact on the Grizzlies and led his team to defy all expectations and earn the 8th seed in the tough western conference. Morant led his team to big victories over top teams like the Lakers and Clippers and was effective enough to make his way into all-star discussions. Morant produced highlight after highlight with his flashy playmaking and incredible athleticism. Ja has proven himself as a future star in the NBA and has given hope to many Memphis fans for the future of the franchise. He has earned his placed as the top pick to win this award and is destined for a long and impressive career in the NBA.


Sixth Man of the Year


3. Montrezl Harrell


| 18.6 PPG | 1.7 APG | 7.1 RPG | 0.6 SPG | 1.1 BPG | 60.7% TS |


Once again, Montrezl Harrell has been one of the most effective bench players in the league. He has had arguably his best season of his career so far with career highs in points, rebounds and FT percentage. Harrell was leaps and bounds better than the Clipper’s starting center, Ivica Zubac, which has led many people to question if he was coming off the bench just to win this award when he should be starting for this playoff team. Harrell’s talent off the bench cannot be questioned and he has earned his title as one of, if not, the best bench center in the league and deserves consideration for the sixth man of the year award.


2. Derrick Rose


| 18.1 PPG | 5.6 APG | 2.4 RPG | 0.8 SPG | 0.3 BPG | 55.5% TS |


In recent seasons, Derrick Rose has given new life to his career as an elite sixth man for Minnesota and now Detroit. This season, Rose has put up his best statistical season since returning from his devastating ACL injury. While some will criticise this pick because of the Piston’s disappointing record, or because his play has faded recently, Rose has been the teams best player at multiple points and the season and has regularly been Detroit’s go-to player in critical situations where he has consistently delivered. Rose deserves the recognition for the role he has played in Detroit despite the team’s record and has earned his spot as second in the sixth man of the year award.


1. Dennis Schroder


| 19.0 PPG | 4.1 APG | 3.7 RPG | 0.7 SPG | 0.2 BPG | 57.3% TS |


In just his second year coming off the Thunder bench, Schroder has produced the best season of his career. Schroder has had career highs in field goal percentage, three-point percentage, true shooting, rebounds and blocks. The OKC Thunder have well-exceeded their expectations and currently sit 5th in the western conference thanks in no small part to Schroder’s contributions as both their sixth man and a crucial piece of OKC’s surprisingly effective three guard lineup. He has also become a regular member of the Thunder’s closing lineup which has won them a lot of close games throughout the season.


Most Improved Player


3. Brandon Ingram


| 24.3 PPG | 4.3 APG | 6.3 RPG | 1.0 SPG | 0.7 BPG | 59% TS |


Brandon Ingram got a fresh start in New Orleans this season after being traded last offseason for Anthony Davis and he could not have adapted any better. As Zion was injured for most of the season, Ingram became the sole number one option in the Pelican’s offence and fit that role perfectly. Even after Zion returned, Ingram still averaged 23-7-6 per 36 minutes and developed great chemistry with his fellow forward. Ingram earned his first all-star selection this year and increased his numbers in almost every single statistical category. His field goal percentage didn’t take much of a hit either despite his increased load on the offensive end. Ingram will most like get a max contract in free agency and it is well deserved after his great season for the Pelicans.


2. Luka Doncic


| 28.7 PPG | 8.7 APG | 9.3 RPG | 1.1 SPG | 0.2 BPG | 58.4% TS |


Rarely do we see a player put up numbers Luka did this season, but it is unprecedented for a player to achieve this at the age of 20 and only in his second season. Luka has gone from a fringe all-star to one of the top 5 players in the league. He has shouldered the best offence in the history of the NBA and has seemed unstoppable. He still has some improvements to make on the defensive end, but it is impossible to ignore his massive leap this season. Doncic is set to be one of the best players in the NBA for the next decade and looks like he is set to improve even further and make a run for MVP in the seasons to come. The only thing that hold him in second place for me is that he is a second-year player and is expected to make a big improvement. This does not take away from his amazing achievements, but it does stop him from winning the award this year in my eyes.


1. Bam Adebayo


| 16.2 PPG | 5.1 APG | 10.5 RPG | 1.2 SPG | 1.3 BPG | 60.6% TS |


Last season, Bam Adebayo was a solid reserve player for the mediocre Miami Heat playing behind Hassan Whiteside. He was not very well known and was certainly not expected to have the impact he has had this year. Bam has double his numbers in almost every major statistic and has become one of the top options on the team. He has become a surprisingly talented playmaker notching an assist on 23.6% of his teammates’ buckets. Adebayo has also become one of the best defenders in the league with his effort and ability to guard all 5 positions, even taking on the Giannis assignment with some success. He has also earned himself his first all-star appearance and has become a fan favourite in Miami and across the league. Adebayo is a walking double-double and has the potential to improve even more into one of the league best centers in the coming seasons. He has had an incredible season and is well deserving of the most improved player award.


Defensive Player of the Year


3. Bam Adebayo


| 16.2 PPG | 5.1 APG | 10.5 RPG | 1.2 SPG | 1.3 BPG | 60.6% TS |


Bam Adebayo has earned his spot as one of the leagues best defenders this season. He has shown tremendous ability to defend at all 5 positions. He boosted his ranking in his match against the Bucks in March. He was the primary defensive match up against Giannis and help the reigning MVP to 4 points on just 2 of 11 shooting in the minutes Bam was defending him. Adebayo contained Giannis and forced him to settle for jump shots by having the athleticism to stay in front of Giannis and the size to hold his ground. Bam has also had a great defensive impact against other all-stars like Davis, Westbrook, Harden and Siakam. Unfortunately, the team’s overall defense has not been good enough for Bam to win this award, he deserves mention and has the potential to be in the running for this award for years to come.


2. Giannis Antetokounmpo


| 29.6 PPG | 5.8 APG | 13.7 RPG | 1.0 SPG | 1.0 BPG | 60.8% TS |


Giannis Antetokounmpo’s insane size, speed, length and athleticism means he can guard every position on the court, much like Bam, but he does this at a different level. He can use his unique physical attributes to shut down passing lanes and be an elite rim protector. He hasn’t been as impactful as previous seasons, averaging his lowest block totals in the last 5 years but opponents have shot 41.9% at the rim when Giannis is guarding them which is the best out of all players who have contested 50 shots at the rim this year. If Giannis were able to win the MVP award and DPOY, he would join Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon as the 3rd player to win both awards in a single season. Giannis has led his team to one of the best defensive seasons in modern history and deserves serious consideration for this award.


1. Anthony Davis


| 26.7 PPG | 3.1 APG | 9.4 RPG | 1.5 SPG | 2.4 BPG | 61.4% TS |


Anthony Davis has been in defensive player of the year conversations and has multiple all-defensive team selections under his belt, but this year is his best chance yet at taking home this award. Davis has transformed the Lakers into the third-best defensive team in the league, up from 12th last season. Davis ranks 3rd in the league in blocks per game and 15th in the league in steals which makes him one of the best bigs at forcing turnovers. He has earned this award for both his own excellent defense and for raising everyone else’s level on the defensive end of the floor. It will be a flip of the coin between Davis and Antetokounmpo for this award but I believe Davis deserves more credit due to having less defensive help as his disposal and still raising his team to become one of the top defensive teams in the league.


Coach of the Year


3. Taylor Jenkins


| Team Record: 32-33 (8th in West) | ORTG: 110.1 (20th in NBA) | DRTG: 111.1 (16th in NBA) |


The Grizzlies first-year head coach, Taylor Jenkins, has led the seemingly lottery guaranteed team to an unexpected but welcome playoff berth. When Memphis hired Jenkins as their head coach in the last offseason, they expected him to learn and grow with the team as they started the rebuilding process. Instead, Jenkins has taken this team of unproven, young talent instantly developed them into a real playoff contender. He has allowed Ja Morant to instantly make an impact and become the favourite for rookie of the year. Jenkins is skilled at creating effective lineups that outperform their expectations. His 5-man lineup of Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Jae Crowder, Jaren Jackson Jr and Jonas Valanciunas outscored opponents by an impressive 6.3 points per 100 possessions until Crowder was traded. He has also developed young players Brandon Clarke and De’Anthony Melton into effective bench performers. Jenkins is not the coach of a championship team but deserves to be in the coach of the year conversation for his outstanding performance as a rookie head coach in the NBA.


2. Mike Budenholzer


| Team Record: 53-12 (1st in East) | ORTG: 113.2 (9th in NBA) | DRTG: 102.45 (1st in NBA) |


Mike Budenholzer would win this award any other year. He has led the bucks to a league-high 53-12 record. The bucks have also had a historic defensive season, leading the league in defensive rating. Until Giannis got injured and the season got put on hold due to the pandemic, the Bucks were on pace for a 70-win season which would rank their season among the greatest of all time. He has coached the reigning MVP to a likely second straight MVP award and has helped develop players like Donte DiVincenzo into solid contributors for the team. If Nick Nurse had not had an all-time great coaching season, Budenholzer would easily be the favourite to win coach of the year.


1. Nick Nurse


| Team Record: 46-18 (2nd in East) | ORTG: 112.5 (12th in NBA) | DRTG: 106.1 (2nd in NBA) |


After losing their finals MVP and best player, Kawhi Leonard and quality contributor, Danny Green in the offseason, no one expected the Toronto Raptors to be the second seed in the eastern conference and to potentially win more games than last year. The raptors were expected to be a low seed in the playoffs, but Nurse has guided his team to the 3rd best record in the league. Not only have Toronto defied expectations but have done so while dealing with one of the worst injury seasons in the league. The team rarely had its full roster healthy and available, but Nurse was able to pull together a group of mainly undrafted castoffs and build them into a gritty, hard-working team. He has not been afraid to try new, untested strategies in close-game situations and has been at the helm of some of the best comebacks of the season. Nurse has had one of the great coaching seasons in modern history and is the clear winner of the coach of the year award.