After a grueling 82-game schedule, the NBA’s 2014-2015 regular season has come to an end. The NBA playoffs are here and we will watch it over the course of 2 months until a champion emerges. In the meantime, here are my picks for the annual individual awards:
1) Coach of the Year. No debate here. This award goes to Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr. The Warriors are having the best season in franchise history with an impressive 67-15 record. That win-loss record is also the best ever for a rookie coach. Mike Budenholzer of the Atlanta Hawks is a close second. Budenholzer turned a 38-win team to a 60-win one with basically the same line-up.
2) Executive of the Year. It was already a coup for Cleveland Cavaliers to get LeBron James and Kevin Love in the off-season but David Griffin wasn’t done. After an uninspiring start to the season, Griffin orches- trated trades that bagged J.R. Smith, Timofey Mozgov, and Iman Shumpert. Since this mid-season trade, the Cavs have been on a tear and now have a rotation built for a title.
3) Sixth Man of the Year. This award should definitely go to Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics. The diminutive guard averaged 16.4 points—the highest among reserves and 4.2 assists per game. Moreover, the Boston Celtics have gone 14-7 since Thomas was traded from the Phoenix Suns making his impact more pronounced. Other notable candidates include Andre Iguodala of the Golden State Warriors and Lou Williams of the Toronto Warriors.
4) Defensive Player of the Year. Draymond Green is the best defensive player on the league’s best defensive team. Green is the essential cog in the Warriors’ defense due to his unrivalled versatility. Through Green, the Warriors are able to switch out to point guards and defend screen-rolls, stifling the first offensive option and forcing opponents to attempt a tough shot. The team is also able to switch easily in set plays. It is interesting to note that the Warriors will finish first in defensive efficiency for the first time in nearly 40 years.
5) Most Improved Player of the Year. The hands down winner should be Jimmy Butler of the Chicago Bulls. He increased his stats across the board averaging 20 points from the previous season’s 13 points, on 46% shooting (last season 39%), while pulling down 5.8 rebounds and dishing out 3.3 assists. Butler has become the go-to-guy in Chicago especially with the injury to Derrick Rose. Draymond Green can also make a case but he will already win the DPOY.
6) Rookie of the Year. While Nerlens Noel of the 76ers and Nikola Mirotic of the Bulls made strong runs in the 2nd half of the season, the best rookie is definitely Andrew Wiggins of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Wiggins has been consistent all throughout the season and he leads all rookie scorers by a mile. He is also among the top ten rookies in assists and rebounds. Wiggins is a superstar in waiting and give it a year or two, he should be one of the top wings in the league.
7) Most Valuable Player. Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors is the best player on the best team. There are those pundits who will say that James Harden had a better season based on statistics and has been incredible for Houston given all the injuries the team sustained. But we need to make one team clear: the Warriors are the best team because of Curry’s game.