After the All-Star break, the NBA’s regular season is set to continue but this early, I already have favorites to win the individual awards at the end of the season. Barring any injuries or monumental collapse, the following are the winners of the NBA’s top awards:
1) Most Valuable Player—You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to proclaim Golden State Warrior’s guard Steph Curry as the best player in the league for the 2015-2016 season. Curry is leading the league in scoring with a career best 29.8 points per game while contributing 5.3 rebounds and 6.6 assists. His shooting is also ridiculous making nearly 51 percent of all his shots, 45 percent from deep and over 91 percent from the stripe. The Warriors also have the best record in the NBA by far and are on pace to beat the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls’ 72-10 win-loss record. Sorry LBJ fans, but there is a new king in the NBA.
2) Rookie of the Year ¬—2015’s No. 1 draft pick Karl Anthony-Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves has been dominating the discussion for Rookie of the Year honors. Towns is averaging over 17 points and 10 rebounds per game and his shooting percentages are great for a big man. He recently won the Skills Challenge during the All-Stars beating point guard Isaiah Thomas of the Celtics underscoring his versatile skill set. If he gets the nod, he will join teammate Andrew Wiggins as a ROY awardee.
3) Defensive Player of the Year—It can be argued that the Warriors’ Draymond Green is one of the best all-around defenders in town, but reigning Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard is simply the best when it comes to shutdown defense. Players guarded by Leonard rarely shoot more than 40 percent and he is likewise a blocks and steals contributors. Leonard usually guards the opposing team’s best offensive player. Without him, the Spurs would be a mediocre defensive team at best.
4) Most Improved Player— Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors gets my nod for this award. He has improved in almost every statistical category and the Raptors are also one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. Yes he is already a superstar but he is only the third player in NBA history to average at least 20 points, 6 points and 2 steals. The other two are MVP candidate Steph Curry and Celtics legend Larry Bird. Enough said.
5) Sixth Man of the Year— Denver Nuggets swingman Will Barton didn’t win the dunk contest but he is certainly in the running for best reserve. He is averaging 15.5 points and 6 rebounds off the bench together with 38 percent shooting from downtown. He is having career-best averages and I won’t be surprised if he breaks into the starting unit soon.
6) Coach of the Year— The legendary 3-time Coach of the Year Gregg Popovich is again the best coach in the NBA. The Spurs are 45-9 despite many injuries to key players. They are still breathing down the necks of the Golden State Warriors (48-4) who are having one of the best seasons ever. The Spurs also have the highest point differential (12.9 points) highlighting their dominance in the league. That’s just great coaching.