RePrint Sports: Predictions for the NBA Awards

By: Grace Lawrence ’19 

Jaw-dropping trades. Major upsets. This NBA season has been full of these, and it’s not over yet. We may have just entered the first round of the playoffs, but debates around the NBA regular season awards have been brewing since the season began in October. In particular, out of the 12 distinctive awards given out during the NBA Award Show, the Rookie of the Year and MVP have been the most anticipated.

The Rookie of the Year award is arguably the most debated topic in the NBA right now, with Ben Simmons at the top of the list. Drafted out of Louisiana State University as the first overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft, Simmons redshirted his entire first season with a preseason injury which makes him applicable for the current Rookie of the Year award. To say Simmons has proved himself is an understatement. As a 6’10” point-guard for the Philadelphia 76ers, Simmons averages 15.8 points per game, 8.2 assists, 8.1 rebounds, and a field goal percentage of 54.5%. The other major contender is Donovan Mitchell, a current fan favorite, from the Utah Jazz. Drafted this season as the 13th overall pick from Louisville, Mitchell currently leads all rookies with 20.5 points per game, 3.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and a 43.7% field goal percentage as a 6’3” shooting guard. Stats are very important, but another argument is the way both of these players perform on the court. Mitchell has become the primary scorer for the Jazz, the fifth ranked team in the Western Conference, and has defied expectations by putting up incredible numbers for a rookie. Ben Simmons, however, has had an immense impact this season with his old-school style of playing. He lives in the arc, and hasn’t sunk a three all year. His weak outside game is what hurts him most in this Rookie-of-the-Year race. However, Philadelphia’s placement as the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference is arguably almost wholly because of this 6’10-point guard.

Other Rookies who have had a huge impact on the league this year were Lauri Markkanen of the Chicago Bulls and Kyle Kuzma of the Los Angeles Lakers. Markkanen has had 13 double doubles this season, as well as a hot hand behind the arc. Kyle Kuzma, overshadowing his other rookie teammates, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, has made a statement and shocked everyone during his debut in the summer league after four years of college in Utah. Seeing him first hand in the Staples Center, he is extremely quick and has one of the most versatile games in the league, being a threat behind and inside the arc. Any other year, these two men probably would be top of the list, but Simmons and Mitchell are too special and have had amazing rookie years.

The most prized award of the season, Most Valuable Player, will also be given out on June 25. Most basketball experts think that James Harden is guaranteed to win this accolade this year. The past few years, since his departure from OKC to Houston, Harden has been overshadowed by Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, and Russell Westbrook; however, this year, the award seems likely to be his. Yes, his defense has, and probably always will be, atrocious to watch at times; however, his offensive game is unparalleled. Harden’s stats are one of the best in the league right now, although he falls short in the assists category for someone who has been noted as “getting everyone involved.” He averages 8.8 APG, but also averages 30.4 PPG and 5.4 RPG, both incredible statistics. What hurts Harden the most however, is his field goal percentage of 44.9%, which falls short to those of Lebron, Davis, and Antetokounmpo. Again, beyond the stats is the player. James Harden has been MVP runner up the past two of three seasons and most people agree that this year it’s The Beard’s turn. He plays extremely well with Chris Paul, a teammate whom he has welcomed with open arms. Others in the running include the Giannis ‘The Greek Freak’ Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis, Lebron James, Chris Paul, and Russell Westbrook. The Greek Freak averaged 26.9 PPG and 10 RBG in 75 games this season. His stats are incredible as well. The Houston Rockets, lead by Harden, might just go all the way this year, past the Warriors, the Thunder, the Cavs, or whoever else you throw at them. This is the year of the beard.