MVP: Russell Westbrook. Yes, it was the triple doubles. Yes, it was the compelling storyline all season long. Yes, it was the rising from the ashes of the Kevin Durant departure, like a mythical phoenix. Yes, it’s also about the winning. Without 2016-2017 Westbrook, the OKC Thunder would have been, at best, a 25-win team. Instead, they’re the sixth seed in the always-tough Western conference.
Rookie of the Year: Malcolm Brogdon. It should have been Joel Embiid, had he played more. Or Brandon Ingram, had he played better. Or Ben Simmons, had he played at all. Or even Dario Saric, had the Sixers won more. Instead, it is the cool, collected and unassuming 24 year old second round draft pick Brogdon, he of the 10.3 ppg, 2.8rpg, 4.2 apg, and 1.1 spg who was the year’s best rookie.
Coach of the Year: Tough call. I’ll go with Greg Popovich. Why? Anybody notice how the Spurs remain among the top 3 teams in the NBA despite losing Tim Duncan to retirement, having end-of-their-careers Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Pau Gasol, and David Lee as their bench and guys like Jonathan Simmons, Kyle Anderson, David Bertans, DeJounte Murray, and DeWayne Dedmon as their main pieces. Only Pop can make this possible.
Defensive Player of the Year: Rudy Gobert. The cool choice is Draymond Green but while Green can guard all five spots, he can only guard one person at a time. Gobert protects the rim from everyone and can often cover 2 guys at the same time. Not even close, in my opinion.
Sixth Man of the Year: No one really stands out so I’m going to go with Eric Gordon. He’s still young enough think he should be the starter and good enough to actually be one but he’s subverted his ego to make the Rockets better. That counts for a lot.
Most Improved Player: Giannis Antetokuonmpo. Forget the numbers, which are nice (from 16 ppg to 22 ppg this year, and +1 on rpg and apgs). This is the year Antetokuonmpo showed us that yes, the next Magic Johnson has arrived.
Executive of the Year: Neil Olshey, if only for being able to convert a nice pickup from the Net (Mason Plumlee) into a fantastic pickup (Jusuf Nurkic). If the Blazers end up upsetting the Warriors in the first round, look to that move as the tipping point.