NBA award winners, finalists recognize the league’s best

NBA released its awards finalist, recognizing the stars on the field.

Image via NBA

NBA released its awards finalist, recognizing the stars on the field.

Sam Tobiczyk, Staff Writer

The recently announced finalists for the NBA awards show some of the the top talent around the league and some rising stars.

The NBA’s major awards consist of Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Most Improved Player, Sixth Man of the Year, and Coach of the Year. 

The MVP award, given to the most outstanding player from the NBA in a given season, has three finalists this year: Nikola Jokić, Steph Curry, and Joel Embiid. Jokić, believed to be the favorite to win the award, averaged 26.4 points on the year, to go along with 10.8 rebounds and 8.3 assists — numbers that are unprecedented for a big man. He also led his team to the third seed in the Western Conference. 

Curry, who also won the league scoring title, averaged 32 points on the year, but failed to find team success with the Golden State Warriors. Embiid, who was the favorite at the beginning of the year, went down with a major injury that caused him to miss a lot of games, and lowered his stats when he did come back.

The finalists for the best defensive player are Rudy Gobert, Ben Simmons, and Draymond Green. This is one of the closest contests this awards season, with all three finalists being in the Top 10 in Defensive Win Shares, Defensive Rating, and Defensive Box Plus/Minus. Interestingly, Gobert is the only one of the three to be the leader in any of those stats, being the leader of Defensive Rating and Win Shares.

The rookie of the year is a tightly contested battle between LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, and Tyrese Haliburton. Ball was the favorite to win the award early in the season, but went down with an injury, leaving Edwards to take his place. When Ball came back from his injury, the two freshmen became neck and neck for the award. Haliburton is further away from the award, yet he had a great season nonetheless.

The winner for most improved is the New York Knicks’s Julius Randle. Randle became a first time all-star this season, while helping the Knicks back to the playoffs as the four-seed. The other two finalists were Jerami Grant and Michael Porter Jr., both of whom had breakout seasons compared to the previous ones, with Grant becoming the number one option on the Pistons.

The sixth man award, given to the best player who came off of the bench in a season, was awarded to Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jazz. Clarkson had a great season where he averaged 18.4 points off the bench on efficient shooting. The other finalists were Clarkson’s teammate Joe Ingles and Derrick Rose, who was a former MVP. Both players had good seasons, but neither of them compared to Clarkson.

Coach of the Year was awarded to Monty Williams, coach of the Phoenix Suns. He coached the Suns to the second-best record in the difficult West, when they had low hopes before the season. Tom Thibodeau helped the Knicks to overachieve in their season, and Quin Snyder helped the Jazz to the best record in the West, but neither compared to Williams. 

Overall, the NBA Awards celebrate the best players across the league, and this year, the finalists and winners are a fairly accurate representation of these players across the country.