As the NBA comes down the home stretch and about 22 of the 30 NBA teams jockey for playoff positioning, the team at POS wants to peek ahead and layout our 2014-2015 NBA award winners… before anyone else (In our eyes) gets to.
Rookie of the Year
Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves
We’ll begin with one of the more clear cut award winners of the year. Wiggins is on his way to having one of the more consistently dominant rookie years in recent memory. The Canadian youngster is averaging a rookie best 15.8 points per game, on only a 21.8% usage rate.
For a comparison on usage rates, the top 5 players in usage rates all average above 33% (LeBron averages 33.7%). So not only is Andrew Wiggins getting the job done on both ends of the floor (his offensive & defensive ratings are above 100), he has also seemingly avoided the infamous “rookie wall” and continuously improved throughout the season.
While the Timberwolves as a team are all but assured a top 3 draft pick in June, due to their current bottom dweller status in the highly competitive Western Conference. It is clear that the T’Wolves management has done the right thing by trading Kevin Love and beginning to build around their soon to be Rookie of the Year. Check out Wiggins shutting down the league’s best 1 on 1 player.
Most Improved Player
Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls
Jimmy Butler has been one of this season’s most pleasant surprises. Butler decided “to bet on himself” this past summer and pass up on a less than impressive attempt by Bulls management to sign him to a longterm contract. That bet seems to be paying dividends for the 25 year old Tomball, Tx native.
Jimmy Butler has been the Bulls’ most consistent offensive and defensive threat for one of the East’s top teams, and though he has recently been sidelined due to an elbow injury, there is not a more improved player than Butler.
Draymond Green at the very least deserves an honorable mention nod here but, Butlers 20 ppg and 5.8 rebs is far more impactful to voters than Green’s 11/8 line.
And if we know anything to be true, we know that the numbers count when members of the league and media vote on the end of season awards.
6th Man of the Year
Lou Williams, Toronto Raptors
What a year Lou Will has had!
Seriously though, earlier this year it came out that Lou Will has somehow worked out a way to do the impossible. This man not only has one beautiful girlfriend, but that same beautiful girlfriend NEVER leaves home without HER OWN beautiful girlfriend. Lou Will has mastered the words of one Young Dro and found himself “a girl with a girlfriend”.
Oh yea! He’s been ballin’ on court for the Toronto Raptors too. The Raptors are the East’s most dangerous playoff team and Lou is the X factor that makes them go. In fact, Williams is the only player in the NBA averaging at least 15.3 ppg in less than 25 mins per game.
Impressive stuff there Lou, many of us out here would give up a lot for the year you’re having, on and off the floor!
Coach of the Year
Mike Budenholzer, Atlanta Hawks
I mean, we all knew this was coming…No? The Hawks have not only been the NBA’s best, but also the most surprising team in the league this year. Boasting an overall record of 48-12 and an eye opening 17-4 record versus the vaunted Western Conference. The Hawks, led by Budenolzer are looking to shock the basketball world by making a championship run without a “superstar” on their roster.
The San Antonio Spurs/Gregg Popovich disciple has turned the Hawks into a well-oiled offensive juggernaut and produced 4 NBA All-Stars in the process. All 4 All-Star selections will be quick to give each other the credit, and that is the true sign of great coaching and leadership.
If not for Danny Ferry’s disparaging comments towards Luol Deng and the African race, the Hawks GM would possibly be taking home Executive of the Year as well. Instead, the Hawks organization will have to settle for COY, and a shot at the NBA title.
I guess it could be worse, they could still have Josh Smith on the roster!
Defensive Player of the Year
DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers
“If anybody else gets that award (Defensive POY), we need to have an investigation”. Those were the words from the Clippers head coach Doc Rivers recently when asked about the season his 26 year old Center is having on the defensive end of the floor. While Doc may be a tad bit biased towards his own guys, in this case we certainly agree with him.
DeAndre Jordan is currently grabbing just short of 32% of all defensive rebounds that come off while he is on the floor, an astounding stat that gives a little context to the unbelievable year the Houston product is having.
Jordan leads the NBA in defensive rebounding at 9.7, rebounding overall at 14.4, recently set a Clipper record for consecutive 15+ rebound games (9) AND has a good shot at breaking Wilt Chamberlain’s field goal percentage record of 72.7 (Jordan is currently sitting at 71.7 as of Wednesday night). The Clippers are currently 5th in the Western Conference standings with just over 20 games to go in the regular season, and with Blake Griffin racking up missed games due to injury there is no wonder why they’ve been able to stay afloat.
Guys like Draymond Green, Marc Gasol, Tim Duncan, Serge Ibaka and Rudy Gobert will challenge Jordan for the award but we believe that DeAndre’s defensive impact has been second to none this season.
Most Valuable Player
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
The NBA’s Most Valuable Player award is always debated amongst journalists, league executives and fans alike, if for nothing else but the ambiguity with which the decision is made. Many believe the MVP should go to the best player in the NBA regardless of his teams record, but we know thats not true (see Kobe in 2005-’06). Some people out there believe the award should go to the best player on the NBA’s best team.
In this instance, we believe that both parties will be satisfied with this years MVP.
Steph Curry has transformed into a household name seemingly overnight, equalling a career high for points in a season with 24ppg through 58 games and leading the Golden State Warriors to a Western Conference best record, virtually the entire season. Steph has not done this alone, key contributors like Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala have made things fairly easy on the 26 year old NBA legacy PG.
Despite having the benefit of other great players around him, Steph has managed to maintain his efficiency on both ends of the court.
Curry leads the NBA in steals and 3pt field goals at 2.1 & 187 respectively, and is second only to James Harden in total win shares at 11.3.
The Warriors are continuing to surge toward the playoffs and with first year coach Steve Kerr is seemingly pushing all the right buttons, it will be interesting to see the teams development as May and June come around.
Harden, LeBron James and Russell Westbrook seem to be the only legitimate challengers standing between Stephen and the 2014-’15 MVP award, with the majority of experts and journalists being split down the middle between Curry and Harden for MVP.
Ultimately it will likely be the success of the Golden State Warriors team that gives Curry the edge for the award, while also cementing the Under Armour basketball brand and it’s first legitimate MVP and superstar brand ambassador.
Whatever the outcome of the end of season awards, it is certain that this year’s NBA playoffs will be one to remember for years to come. We are thrilled to watch history unfold as many of the names and faces we’ve discussed will play vital roles in determining who calls themselves the 2014-’15 World Champions.
**By “predictions” we mean future forecasting. We’re pretty sure these are going to all be correct 🙂 – POS 3/3/15