My Unusual 2021-22 Award Predictions

Every year, people make predictions for who they think will win various NBA awards, such as the MVP Award, ROTY, DPOY, and many more. Many websites have betting odds for who will win these awards, which lots of times are accurate, but other times, not as much. In this blog post, I will make my predictions for the end of season awards, but with one catch: none of my predictions can be for the players or teams that have the best odds. I have to pick players or teams that aren’t favored, and the betting odds that I will be using are from Vegas Insider. With that, let’s get to it.

 

MVP: Stephen Curry

Credit to Kyle Terada of USA Today Sports for Picture

According to Vegas Insider, Luka Doncic has the best MVP odds for this season, followed by Joel Embiid and Kevin Durant. I can understand why Doncic would be favored, but aside from the fact that I can’t choose him, I wouldn’t have had him as my MVP pick anyway. With a coaching change in Jason Kidd, I think the Mavericks are going to take some time to figure out their identity and how they play, and if they aren’t at the top of the standings, it’ll be difficult for Doncic to claim the award. On the other hand, we saw Curry’s resurgence towards the end of last year, when he won the scoring title and averaged a career high 32 points per game. The Warriors have been off to a hot start, and Curry has been leading the charge. Plus, with reports of how Curry has been training this offseason, I think he’ll be better then ever. The Warriors will get a boost once Klay Thompson returns, and even though he has the fifth best odds, I think Curry will win MVP.

 

Rookie of the Year: Scottie Barnes

Credit to Michael Dwyer of AP Images for Picture

Cade Cunningham has the best odds to win the ROTY Award (+250), followed closely by Jalen Green (+300). While these rookies have a very good chance to become All-Stars down the road, chances are that none of these rookies are going to make a huge impact on their team immediately. It’ll come down to stats, consistency, and how quickly these players adjust to the NBA play style. Barnes, who has the fourth best odds, is averaging 17.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.2 assists, while being a nightmare matchup for me in my ESPN fantasy leagues. The Raptors are only 3-3 right now, but no one is expecting them to be contenders in such a stacked Eastern Conference. He has a positive box plus/minus, which is another good stat, and given that Cunningham has only just started his career and Green is on one of the worst teams in the NBA, I think Barnes has a very good chance to win this year.

 

6th Man of the Year: Derrick Rose

Credit to Steven Ryan of Getty Images for Picture

At the top of the odds for 6th Man of the Year are Jordan Clarkson, Kevin Huerter, and Patty Mills. I would have Mills as my 6th Man of the Year because I really like what I’ve seen from him so far, but Kyrie Irving isn’t going to be playing this season (unless he gets the COVID-19 vaccine), and Mills may be a starter for a majority of the season, disqualifying him from this contest. Rose is going to be a 6th man behind Kemba Walker, who he has a history of playing at Madison Square Garden. Rose isn’t the athletic, explosive player he once was, but he’s shown he’s a very valuable addition to have come off the bench. If the Knicks have a good enough record, I see no reason why Rose can’t win the award.

 

Defensive Player of the Year: Joel Embiid

Credit to Tim Nwachukwu of Getty Images for Picture

At the top of the DPOY odds are Rudy Gobert and… Ben Simmons????? These odds were made on October 8th, before the season, but that still sounds very wrong given Simmons’ current situation. However, I do believe that his teammate, Embiid, will win DPOY this year. Without Simmons, the team’s overall defense is going to go down, meaning Embiid will have to step up. Considering that Embiid was an MVP candidate last year (finished second in MVP voting) in large part due to his defense, I think he can win DPOY, assuming that his level of play stays the same or improves.

 

Most Improved Player: Mo Bamba

Credit to Brian Babineau of Getty Images for Picture

The players with the best odds to win MIP this year are Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (+700), Zion Williamson (+700), Michael Porter Jr (+750), Kevin Porter Jr, Zach LaVine, Collin Sexton, Christian Wood, Jarrett Jackson Jr, Jaylen Brown, John Collins, Chris Boucher, and De’Aaron Fox. Some of these I don’t understand at all, and some I do, but I think that people are sleeping on Bamba. Many people thought that Bamba was a bust only a few seasons after he came out of the University of Texas, but that is far from the truth. In his first three seasons in the NBA, Bamba started in 6 games, largely due to the fact that he was playing behind All-Star center Nikola Vucevic. Bamba also had to deal with some nagging injuries, so in his first fully healthy season as a starter, I expect Bamba to thrive, and run away with this award. The only thing that will keep him from being a clear favorite in my mind is Orlando’s record, a reason why I think everyone is sleeping on him.

 

Coach of the Year: Wes Unseld Jr

Credit to Jonathon Newton of The Washington Post for Picture

The favorites for the Coach of the Year award are Steve Nash, Erik Spolestra, and Billy Donovan. However, I don’t think any of the coaches with the best odds will win this award. I think it will be Washington Wizards Head Coach Wes Unseld, Jr. Son of Wes Unseld, this is his first year as an NBA Head Coach, and he has already led his Wizards to a 5-1 record, the team’s first since 2006. The team has gelled very well so far, and the only loss the team faced was on the road against Brooklyn, who is a title favorite. The Wizards have been horrible recently under Head Coach Scott Brooks, and if Unseld, Jr, can lead this team to a high playoff seed, he will easily become a Coach of the Year contender.

 

Championship: Golden State Warriors

Credit to Clutch Points for Picture

The Lakers and Nets are tied for the best odds to win the 2022 NBA Championship, but because of injuries, drama, and how old the Lakers are, I don’t think they will win it all. If Thompson comes back healthy and Jordan Poole continues to produce at the level he is, I don’t see any reason why Curry can’t win a championship, the MVP, and a Finals MVP this year. The Warriors also have depth with rookies Jonathon Kuminga and Moses Moody, wing players Andrew Wiggins, Otto Porter Jr, and more. They’re 4-1 to start the season, and if they can build off of that, then expect to see them playing in June.

 

Which of these predictions do you think will come true, and which won’t? Let me know in the comments below, don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog, and as always, have an awesome day!

 

 

 

 

 

Report: Nikola Jokic is Your 2021 NBA MVP

Once a second round pick who no one thought would amount to anything in the NBA, Nikola Jokic has proved all of his doubters wrong by winning MVP of the 2020-2021 NBA season. Jokic is the first center to win the award since 2000, when Shaquille O’Neal took home regular season MVP, All-Star Game MVP, and Finals MVP. He is also the lowest drafted player and first second round pick to win an MVP, as the next lowest drafted MVPs were Giannis Antetokounmpo and Steve Nash, who were each picked 15th overall and have each won two MVP awards. Averaging a near triple-double with 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 8.3 assists (considered the greatest passing big man ever), Jokic also shot 56.6% from the field, 38.8% from three-point range, and 86.8% from the free throw line, proving that he did indeed deserve this award over other MVP candidates Steph Curry and Joel Embiid.

Credit to Matthew Stockman of Getty Images for Picture

While Jokic was an incredible center during the 2019-20 season, he wasn’t nearly an MVP or MVP candidate quite yet. The league had decided that LeBron James was too old to win another MVP, and had a case of deja vu when Giannis Antetokounmpo took home the award for the second straight season1. In the NBA bubble where the playoffs were held due to the coronavirus pandemic, Jokic and his Denver Nuggets came back from down 3-1 twice in the same playoffs, something that no team had done before, and has only happened a handful of times in NBA history. After making the Eastern Conference Finals that year but losing to the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers, the Nuggets have resurged this year, despite the loss of Jamal Murray due to a season ending injury, Acquiring phenom dunker Aaron Gordon, Denver has eliminated the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round, and now looks to defeat the Phoenix Suns, led by Devin Booker and Chris Paul, both seeking a championship.

Why didn’t Curry or Embiid take home the award? Why was Jokic named MVP and not them?

To answer the Curry question, Curry’s explosion of threes and scoring did not occur until late in the season. Up until then, Curry had incredible scoring outbursts (see below), but he wasn’t consistently making the threes that he was in April and May. While his lights out shooting led him to average 32 points per game and just beat Bradley Beal for the scoring title, Curry’s Warriors still lost in the play-in to LeBron James (due in part to a Draymond Green missed floater to win the game in regulation) and the Los Angeles Lakers, as well as a young, up-and-coming Memphis Grizzlies team. The fact that even though Curry had a somewhat weaker supporting cast and couldn’t lead his team into the playoffs says a lot compared to Jokic. Despite the fact that his own second option, Jamal Murray, ended his season early due to injury, Jokic still carried on and secured his team’s playoff berth. It’s not like it’s only Curry, like last year, as the Warriors have Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins, Kelly Oubre Jr, and James Wiseman (until he too got injured). Curry was great, but Jokic was greater.

Credit to the NBA YouTube Channel

As for Embiid, let’s look at the numbers. Embiid averaged 28.5 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 2.8 assists on 51.3% shooting from the field, 37.7% shooting from three, and 85.9% from the free throw line. Meanwhile, Jokic beats out Embiid on every stat except for points per game, in which he is slightly behind. Compared to Embiid, and as stated earlier, Jokic averaged 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 8.3 assists on 56.6% from the field, 38.8% from three-point range, and 86.8% from the free throw line.

In the 72-game season, Embiid played in only 51 games. Jokic, on the other hand, would lead the league by playing all 72 games. Despite having an All-Star point guard in Ben Simmons and a near All-Star level scorer in Tobias Harris, Embiid is also surrounded by shooters to pad his assist total and win games (Danny Green, Seth Curry, Tyrese Maxey). However, the 76ers only won two more games than the Nuggets. Jokic has a supporting cast that doesn’t stack the deck in his favor the way Embiid’s does, and yet they still barely trail the team in wins.

I rest my case.

Other NBA News:

Tom Thibodeau won his 2nd Coach of the Year award for turning around the New York Knicks, and leading them into the playoffs for the first time in what feels like a decade. They lost in the first round, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Julius Randle, the Knicks only All-Star, won the Most Improved Player award as he transformed his game from star on a bad team to All-Star on a playoff team. While Thibodeau helped the Knicks immensely, lots of their success has to do with the emergence of Randle as a superstar.

Jordan Clarkson of the number one seeded Utah Jazz won the 6th Man of the Year Award as he averaged 18.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game behind Donovan Mitchell, an All-Star shooting guard and leader of the franchise.

Rudy Gobert, also of the Utah Jazz, has won the Defensive Player of the Year Award over other candidates Ben Simmons and Draymond Green. He led the league in field goal percentage (67.5%), averaged 13.5 rebounds per game, and blocked 2.7 shots per game, a career high.

The Rookie of the Year race between Lamelo Ball and Anthony Edwards has not yet been revealed, but it is sure to be a close race. Read my take on the award here, but let me know who you think is going to win, don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog, and as always, have an awesome day!

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1: Jokic, who is Serbian, is one of six international players in the NBA to win the MVP award, with the others being Antetokounmpo, Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, Tim Duncan, and Hakeem Olajuwon

The NBA Awards: Mamba On

The NBA Award results are beginning to be shown to the public, and among them are the 6th Man of the Year Award and the Most Improved Player Award. The respective awards went to Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jazz and Julius Randle of the New York Knicks, who both had wonderful seasons. Clarkson won the 6th Man of the Year Award by averaging 18.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.5 assists while playing in 68 games, coming off the bench in all but one. His performance helped propel the Jazz to the top of the NBA’s standings, finishing with a 52-20 record.

Credit to the NBA YouTube Channel for the Video

Randle, on the other hand, took a subpar Knicks team that he had been on the season before and completely transformed himself from above average role player to All-Star. During his first season with the Knicks (2019-20), Randle averaged 19.5 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 3.1 assists while the Knicks finished with a 21-45 record, good for the 12th seed in the Eastern Conference. This season, Randle became a first time All-Star and averaged career highs in every category, with 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game. The Knicks went from the 12th seed to the 4th seed, with a record of 41-31 in 2021. There is no doubt that he deserves this award, and earned it.

Congratulations to both of these men for making such incredible strides in their development.

With that being said, I couldn’t help but notice a striking similarity when it comes to the two award winners. A fact that I cannot gloss over, and one that makes me realize that even when you are dead, you can still have a massive influence on today’s NBA.

Credit to CLNS Media for Picture

Allow me to introduce you to the 2010 Los Angeles Lakers. Fresh off of winning back to back NBA Championships, the team fell off as Lamar Odom would leave the team in 2011 for the Dallas Mavericks, Ron Artest would sign with the Knicks in 2013, and Pau Gasol would sign with the Chicago Bulls in 2014. In an attempt to win a few more rings (Artest and Gasol did not age very well), the Lakers signed Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic in 2012. They also successfully traded for point god (that was his nickname) Chris Paul in 2011, but David Stern vetoed the trade because he thought it was unfair.

That big three would be the equivalent of today’s Brooklyn Nets, but since there was no Paul, it was just Bryant and Howard, which did not work out. Howard had nowhere near the work ethic of Bryant, a fact that Bryant could not stand. In a short amount of time, Howard had departed to the Rockets, and Bryant was forced to carry the Lakers while they tanked for high draft picks.

Credit to Mark J. Terrill for Picture

This forced Kobe Bryant into working harder than he should have at his age. So it should be no surprise that Bryant tore his achilles on April 12th, 2013, during a game against the Golden State Warriors. With no Bryant, the Lakers deteriorated. The Lakers had no first round draft picks in 2012 and 2013, but with their second round picks they selected Robert Sacre and Ryan Kelly, who are good friends to this day.

However, in 2014, the Lakers finally got a top draft choice (the 7th pick to be exact) and selected our good friend Julius Randle. Unfortunately, he broke his shin in his first game, and missed his whole rookie season. Aside from Randle, the Lakers also received Jordan Clarkson in a trade from that same draft. Because of the injuries to Randle and Bryant, the Lakers had yet another bad year and in 2015, selected D’Angelo Russell with the second overall pick. Unfortunately, this once more did nothing, and the Lakers received the second pick again in 2016, with which they selected Brandon Ingram. 2015-16 was Bryant’s final season, and after it was over, the Lakers had only their young core and another number two pick, this time Lonzo Ball.

So, with the exception of Ingram and Ball, all of the young Lakers got a chance to learn from the great Black Mamba himself, and while their stats on the Lakers were less then impressive, as soon as they were traded and moved to different teams, they became different players. It was as if the Black Mamba was inside each of them, telling them exactly what to do in order to become the kind of player that he was. Julius Randle has said that he thinks about Bryant on a daily basis, and Clarkson recalled how badly he wanted to win that final season. Before a game against the Portland Trail Blazers, Bryant gave every member on the team a pair of his shoes, but after a blowout loss, he took them all back, saying they weren’t worthy of wearing his shoes.

Once D’Angelo Russell was traded to the Brooklyn Nets, he became a first-time All-Star, led the Nets to a playoff appearance for the first time since 2015, and was traded in a sign and trade for Kevin Durant, a former MVP. Ryan Kelly, the second round pick in 2013 and the last player to ever sub in for Bryant, left the NBA to play overseas in Japan and is now averaging a 20-point 10-rebound double-double. Ingram and Ball must have learned some of the lessons from their teammates who played with Bryant, because once they were traded to the Pelicans, Ingram became an All-Star and Ball began to make his three-point shots.

The other two players from the Lakers’ young core? Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson. Clarkson would play for the Cleveland Cavaliers, but it wasn’t until he was on the Utah Jazz that he found his role, and became the player he is today. As for Randle, he would soon find himself on the New Orleans Pelicans, and from there the New York Knicks. The fact remains that two NBA award winners were those who studied under Kobe Bryant, the man with the most legendary work ethic on the planet. It’s safe to say that the Black Mamba was a great coach, and might be remembered as one of the greatest coaches ever if he did so professionally.

If you enjoyed learning about these award winners, then don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog, and as always, have an awesome day!