by Oliver Maroney & Jacob Noble
It’s just past the mid-way point in the NBA season and it feels like it just started! Here at HoopsCritic we had all of our contributors and writers vote on their mid-season awards favorites. From the MVP, to the Rookie of the Year, we all voted for respective players and while some were a landslide (MVP?), others were certainly closer.
MVP – Stephen Curry
Every one of us put Stephen Curry as our MVP. He’s been superb thus far in the season, producing a balance of offense and defense that’s hard for anyone to stop. Even with defenses focusing on how to stop him, he’s virtually continued to pick-apart defenses and make things that seem impossible, possible.
Aside from what he does individually, he’s especially great at making all of his team better. His passing, ability to draw two or three defenders, and find the opening, is also key to his and the Warriors success.
Rookie Of The Year – Karl-Anthony Towns
This was close as Kristaps Porzingis came in second by a hair. I can see the reason for Kristaps, as he was slighted before the season and plays in the big apple, but Towns has been incredible with Minnesota.
I think most people knew he’d be good on defense, but his offensive game has been more superior than most thought. His back to the basket moves, mobility, and aggressiveness have been extremely impressive. Almost averaging a double-double, Towns has a 21.13 player efficiency rating, while getting almost 2 blocks per game.
While Porzingis isn’t far behind, I think he’d need to make a significant jump in consistency for him to be the winner of the award.
6th Man Of The Year – Will Barton
Will the Thrill has been the highlight of the Nuggets season. While rookie Mudiay has been out, the Nuggets were already thin in the guard position and Will Barton has stepped up big time. Still in the 6th man role, Barton has averaged 15.6 points, 6 rebounds, and over 2 assists per game in under 30 minutes a game. To be as consistent as he has off the bench, is extremely telling of why he won this vote.
Oladipo was only one vote behind in this award, as the Magic have been fighting for playoff seeding. He’s been productive in his role off of the bench as well. Continuing to shoot efficiently and still able to produce at a high clip. If the Magic are in playoff contention and Oladipo continues to improve, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get the award over Will Barton.
Most Improved Player – C.J. McCollum
McCollum has been a pick I’ve been on for a long time. His offseason improvement, work, and growth were apparent. But everyone expected him to be better because he was going to get more minutes. Yet his expected growth from higher minutes per night, wasn’t what it has been. It’s been even better than most predicted. His efficiency while being a number two guy, has replicated that of a veteran, not a 3rd year player.
He wasn’t a consensus pick, the others in the vote included Draymond Green, Kent Bazemore, and some others. Both of the players mentioned have valid arguments, both have improved from last year to this season, playing at an incredibly high-level.
If I didn’t know the situation in Portland as well as I do, I’d say the others have a greater chance. But knowing C.J. and following him for a couple seasons, I really believe in what he’s doing and how much work he puts in.
Draymond has been excellent, leading the league in triple-doubles, along with being arguably the biggest piece to Golden State’s record. Bazemore is looking at a big time contract after the development in Atlanta this season. But C.J. McCollum has managed to answer the question marks surrounding whether he’s an actual second piece to a playoff contending team.
Defensive Player Of The Year – Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi Leonard essentially ran away with this one. I think people are finally starting to notice how good he really is and what he means to the second best team in the NBA. His ability to read players is seemingly his natural instinct. He knows when to attempt a steal, when to play help defense, and his wingspan, continuous work-ethic, and IQ, allow him close down a humungous space.
Followed behind him was Draymond Green, who can almost make an argument for every single individual award this season, even MVP. When it comes to Green, his ability, versatility, and extreme willingness to win, has set himself apart from most the league. One of the only guys who’s able to essentially guard all five positions without being at a disadvantage.
Coach of The Year – Rick Carlisle
There were many picks for coach of the year in our voting. Rick Carlisle was the winner and justifiably so. His team was anticipated to be anywhere from 8th to 12th in the West. At 25 and 19, they’re quietly going about their business, but it’s not unnoticed. Dirk Nowitzki continues to play at a high-level, new additions Pachulia, Parsons, and Matthews have all been producing. DeAndre Jordan didn’t sign with Dallas in the free-agency frenzy and it clearly doesn’t seem to matter.
Right behind Rick was good ol’ Gregg, Gregg Popovich. The man just continues to coach at a supreme level, getting the most out of his players including star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge. The most impressive thing about Pop’s season is on Aldridge’s development and game. His game, especially on the defensive side of the ball, has been much better than it ever has. Give credit to the coaching staff for LaMarcus’s growth.