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NBA Mid-Season Awards

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It is exactly the halfway point of the NBA season and despite the lack of crowds and Covid-related postponements the basketball on show has been box office. Rookies such as Lamelo Ball and Anthony Edwards have lit up the league, Steph Curry is doing Steph Curry things in the bay and we also have a new big three in Brooklyn with Kyrie Erving, Kevin Durant and James Harden teaming up. Unlike most seasons, there is also no standout MVP candidate or Championship favourite, which makes for an incredibly exciting few months ahead.

Since this is the halfway point of the season, here are our finals predictions as well as our picks for all the regular season awards.

NBA 2021 Finalists


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It’s too early to say who the finalists will be in 2021 but our prediction is that we are going to see a New York and LA match-up as the Brooklyn Nets face off against the defending champions, the Los Angeles Lakers. The main threats in the East are Philadelphia and Milwaukee, but both teams have consistently failed in the play-offs due to their lack of shot-creation in a half-court setting. Also, it’s difficult to see any team stopping a team that has three complete players in Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden. 

In the West, the biggest asterisk is Anthony Davis’s health. If he is fine, no team stands in the Lakers path as they should make their second consecutive trip to the finals. With Davis healthy, the Lakers have two top-five players in the league and will be too strong for the rest. However, if Davis does continue to struggle with his injury, the Clippers or the Utah Jazz could be the favourites to go all the way.

Most Valuable Player


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Lebron James and Joel Embiid are the two front runners in the MVP debate but our MVP is Nikola Jokic from the Denver Nuggets. While Jokic isn’t on a top team like Embiid and Lebron, he has been the best player this season if you only look at individual play. Jokic is far and above the best offensive player in the league at this moment and leads the league in terms of Player Efficiency Rating (a rating that boils down all contributions to one number). The Serbian is averaging 27.3 points 8.6 assists and 11 rebounds per game and has also improved immensely in terms of his shooting efficiency and defence.

Defensive Player of The Year


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The Defensive Player of the year so far has been the Philadelphia 76ers Point Guard, Ben Simmons. Simmons is having the best year of his career and is a big reason why Doc Rivers’ side is the number one seed in the East. Simmons can guard one through five on the court and consistently guards the best player on the opposing team at an elite level. Some of the lockdown defence he played on Lebron, Lillard and Luka this season was just outstanding to watch. Simmons is averaging 1.6 steals a game and leads the league in deflections (3.9) and loose balls recovered (1.4).

Rookie of the Year


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Our rookie of the year is Charlotte’s point guard Lamelo Ball who is arguably the most fun to watch player in the league. Ball was drafted third by the Hornets and has taken the league by surprise with his cerebral passing and court vision. Ball is averaging 16 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists a game and also more impressively is shooting a respectable 37% from beyond the arc. He has already become the primary ball-handler at Charlotte and has all the tools to become a box office NBA superstar.

Sixth Man of the Year


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The sixth man of the year so far has been Utah guard Jordan Clarkson. Clarkson has been pivotal to Utah’s excellent campaign so far and has injected dynamism into Utah’s second unit. He is averaging a career-high 18.2 points per game and is shooting 37% from three and 96% from the free-throw line. Clarkson does not provide much playmaking or defence but his scoring has been elite which makes him a front runner for the sixth man award.

Most Improved Player


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There was plenty of competition for this award but eventually, we had to give it to Jerami Grant ahead of Zach Lavine, Jaylen Brown and Chris Wood. The Detroit Pistons might be the worst team in the East in terms of their record but Grant has become the best player on a team that includes the likes of Derrick Rose (now traded to the Knicks) and Blake Griffin. The small forward has doubled his production this season and is averaging 23.4 points and 3.4 assists per game this season compared to 12 points and 1.2 assists per game last season. More importantly, his efficiency has also stayed the same despite the increase in volume.

Coach of the Year


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The standout candidate for the Coach of the year award is the coach of the Utah Jazz, Quin Snyder. No one expected the Jazz to make the leap they did this year especially after their demoralising defeat in the first round of the 2020 play-offs against the Denver Nuggets. What is more impressive is that they have made this jump without making any standout trade moves in the off-season and have more or less the same squad. Under Snyder, the Jazz are an incredibly well-coached unit and they currently have the best record in the league at 27-8. 


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