By: Mike Bonomo
With most teams 5 games into the season, it’s still pretty early to be drawing conclusions about teams. Relax Rockets fans, you should be fine, Blazers fans don’t get your hopes up. This doesn’t apply to Bulls fans, I know every game will be a referendum on who Derrick Rose is now and everyone will just have to accept it until the next game when it changes again. So instead of trying to find a big takeaway from a week’s worth of games, we’re going to do some award speculation for the end of the season.
MVP: Anthony Davis
Remember what I just said about not jumping to conclusions? That applies here as well. Yes the Pelicans are winless right now, and neither Davis nor the rest of the team have looked particularly great, but it’s only been four games. Injuries have been a problem for the team to start the season and though they’ll always be a concern when Eric Gordon and Jrue Holiday are in town, things should improve. Only Tim Duncan had a higher percentage of his baskets come off of assists last season, so injuries on the perimeter can contribute to Davis’ slow start. However, he’s still a phenomenal talent who should find ways to create his own looks as the season goes on, remember he’s still only 22 years old. Though he hasn’t been himself defensively so far, two games against the Warriors can do that to anyone, expect that to change as the year progresses.
Also watch: Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Kevin Durant
Rookie of the Year: Jahlil Okafor
Okafor is not the type of player you think of regarding the modern NBA game. He’s a questionable defensive big man who relies on post ups to score, which doesn’t fit in a game that more and more depends on pace and space offensively. However, very few players have come along in the last 10 years with such an advanced skill set in the post, and he’s used it well so far. He joined LeBron James and Kevin Durant as the only players to score at least 80 points through their first four professional games at the age of 19 or younger, and both of the previous two would win Rookie of the Year that season. I’m not saying to give him the award already, but with his skill set he is the favorite among a particularly deep crop of rookies.
Also watch: Karl-Anthony Towns, Kristaps Porzingis, Myles Turner, Justise Winslow, Stanley Johnson, Emmanuel Mudiay, D’Angelo Russell, Bobby Portis
Defensive Player of the Year: Rudy Gobert
Gobert made a name for himself as a standout rim protector last year; literally, he was given the nickname of The Stifle Tower. With eyes on him for a full season, and a Jazz team primed for a playoff push, Gobert is the early favorite for the award.
Also watch: Kawhi Leonard, Draymond Green, Anthony Davis
Sixth Man of the Year: Isaiah Thomas
Thomas is my pick assuming he’s eligible for the award. He’s traditionally been better off of the bench, but has been starting for Boston while Marcus Smart was out. Smart should return soon, and it’s assumed Thomas would go back to his role as a sixth man, though not for sure. If he does he’s the presumptive favorite. He could have won last year but after being traded from Phoenix to Boston his role was shaky in the second half. He’s been the best player the Celtics have had early on and it wouldn’t be surprising if that were the case most of the year.
Also watch: Andre Iguodala, Jamal Crawford, Corey Brewer
Coach of the Year: Jason Kidd
This is always one of the harder awards to predict, because it really comes down to narratives, not necessarily who is the best coach. Kidd has proven to be a good coach so far and has a Bucks team poised to surprise some people. The playoffs are expected but if they look like a top tier team in the east, he would be the favorite
Also watch: Gregg Popovich, Mike Budenholzer, Steve Kerr, Erik Spoelstra, Brad Stevens