Article by: Harrison Weaver
The NBA end-of-season awards have come and gone, crowning a new MVP as well as a handful of other honors. Even though the season is over now, and I already miss it, the awards have given us one last round of debate for the 2018-2019 season, and settled a ton of fun discussions we have had this season. Some examples being Giannis versus Harden for MVP (even though we all know it is Joel Embiid. #TrustTheProcess), Luka Doncic versus Trae Young for ROTY, and Lou Williams versus Mike Scott for 6th Man of the Year. Yes, I am joking, but not really. Either way, we saw an incredibly moving speech by Giannis after winning the award, related to how we all feel as we pursue and eventually achieve life-long goals that we set for ourselves. As the season has wrapped up, and a champion has been crowned, this is a time to celebrate the hard work players have put in to perfect their craft. In this article, I will be highlighting the winner of each major award and what truly made their season so special. Simple enough right? Let's get into it.
MVP: Giannis Antetokounmpo
The Greek Freak was able to edge out The Beard by 55 first place votes, 78-23, which is a safe margin. Giannis had a monster year, averaging 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 3.9 dunks per game, all while only averaging 32.8 minutes per game (all regular season). If you are a basketball fan, you do not need me to tell you that those numbers represent absolute, unstoppable dominance. He got to the rim at will, signified by the 3.9 dunks per game which is absurd. He led the Bucks to an NBA best record of 60-22, and he is now the third youngest player ever to win MVP in the past 40 seasons (behind only Derrick Rose and LeBron James), and he is tied with Steve Nash as the lowest draft pick to win MVP (pick 15). Keep in mind, the Freak is only 24 years old, and has not even reached his peak prime years yet. Be sure to look for his performance only to get better as time goes on, which is terrifying for the rest of the NBA.
Defensive Player of the Year: Rudy Gobert
Back to back. After another dominant year on the defensive end for the Jazz, Rudy Gobert has once again secured the Defensive Player of the Year award. The Jazz center averaged 9.0 defensive rebounds, 2.3 blocks, as well as leading one of the best defensive teams in the league who only allowed 105.2 points per game. He joins Kawhi Leonard and Dwight Howard as the most recent players to win back to back DPOY honors. Kawhi from 2014-2016 and Dwight Howard from 2008-2011. With the addition of Mike Conley this offseason, expect the Jazz to get even better on defense, and for Gobert to continue to be the defensive centerpiece to a possible title contender next season.
Most Improved Player: Pascal Siakam
The 25-year-old from Cameroon has an incredible break-out season as a crucial piece of the Raptors championship run. He went from averaging 7.3/4.5/2.0 (Points/Rebounds/Assists) last year to averaging 16.9/6.9/3.1 this past season. He recorded 18 double-doubles this year after never having done so before, he increased his 3-point percentage from 22% to 36.9% this season and increased his Player Efficiency Rating by over 4 points from 14.54 to 18.74. Outside of the statistics, you could see that Siakam was much more comfortable on the floor and really took his court awareness to another level as he was able to push the ball on the fast break, make nice moves in the paint, and really elevated as a defender. Toronto was rewarded for taking him with the 27th pick in 2016 as he has really flourished into a great young player in this league.
6th Man of the Year: Lou Williams
Everyone’s favorite 6th man, the scoring machine named Lou Williams finds himself crowned 6th Man of the Year for the 3rd time in his career, tied with Jamal Crawford for the most all-time. That is not the only record he has ahold of. He is the all-time leader in points off the bench (11,375), 30-point games off the bench (29), and 40-point games off the bench (5). He led the Clippers in scoring and assists this year, leading the way for a mostly young, hungry team that managed to really overachieve and take the Warriors to six games in the first round of this year’s playoffs. A huge part of that was timely performances by Williams and his continuous scoring efforts throughout the year. Congratulations to him!
Coach of the Year: Mike Budenholzer
After taking over the reins this year of a team that finished as the 7th seed in the East with a first round exit last year, Mike Budenholzer was able to work with this team and help coach them to the best record in the East and a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. They added Brook Lopez and Ersan Ilyasova as support to their strong, well balanced core. Budenholzer took that team and turned them into an unstoppable force this past regular season. The Bucks led the league in points per game with 118.1 PPG and boasted a league best Defensive Field Goal % of 47.4. By pulling off a 60-win season, Budenholzer becomes only the 7thcoach in NBA history to win at least 60 games in a season with multiple franchises (Atlanta being the other).
Rookie of the Year: Luka Doncic
This was a very, very highly debated rookie of the year race between Luka and Trae Young. However, Luka was the right choice and the numbers tell you why. Luka averaged crazy numbers for a rookie, as he averaged 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game for the Mavericks, while shooting a better percentage from the field, from three point range, had a higher eFG%, and leading the Mavs to 4 more wins than the Hawks. This was done while playing in the Western Conference. If you ask me, it is pretty clear-cut that Luka Doncic did everything necessary to bring home the ROTY honor. On top of that, he became just the 5th rookie in NBA history to average 20+ points, 5+ assists, and 5+ rebounds. On top of that, he is only 20 years old so buckle up and enjoy the show with this superstar on the rise.
1st Team All-NBA:
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