Basketball is back. This summer gifted fans the Olympics, Summer League, and most recently the preseason this fall. But, of course, it all leads into the regular season. There’s been plenty of changes throughout the league and it’s time to take a look at NBA award predictions as things get into full swing.
There’s a great crop of promising rookies, but the pick to win the Rookie of the Year award goes to the number one overall pick in Cade Cunningham. The “oversized” point guard can do it all from scoring in bunches, dishing the rock, and rebounding in numbers. He’s also on what should be a lottery-destined Detroit Pistons team, so he’ll have plenty of minutes and time to succeed. Cunningham should adjust rather quickly to scoring and has an improved Pistons supporting cast to rack up his assists numbers.
The Coach of the Year award goes to Nate McMillan. The Atlanta Hawks played amazing basketball throughout the postseason and should continue to do so. It’s unlikely that they finish ahead of the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference, but it’s not completely out of the question. Atlanta has a terrific roster and McMillan will lead them to a great record and one of the top seeds in the East.
The Sixth Man of the Year award goes to Patty Mills. He’s always been criminally underrated and is now on a team full of offensive fireworks. The Brooklyn Nets do have their own Kyrie Irving situation, but he’ll either eventually start at point guard, they’ll make a trade, or James Harden will start at the one while another player shifts into the two. Either way, Mills will be heavily relied upon to lead the bench unit in scoring. The wide-open Nets’ offense gives Mills the opportunity to succeed.
Rudy Gobert is the typical favorite for the Defensive Player of the Year award. He will be again, but Draymond Green will come out on top. The Golden State Warriors should be reinvigorated, which will give them plenty more attention. Green remains a nightmare for opposing players. He’ll continue to rack up steals and do the “dirty work” for the Warriors while shutting down opposing players. It’s been a couple of years, but Green comes back with a vengeance.
The Houston Rockets should be amongst the worst teams in the league this season. That’s fine, as they have a young crop of players develop. The one who will truly come out on top is Kevin Porter Jr. He has a plethora of dribble moves, can shoot from anywhere, and will earn lead ball-handling duties. Expect Porter Jr to become a household name this season and win the Most Improved Player Award.
The MVP award may not always go to who is believed to be the “best” player, but who is the most important to their team. Kevin Durant can claim both and he’ll walk away with the MVP award.
As previously mentioned, it’s unknown what will happen between Brooklyn and Irving. If Irving does not play for the team for an extended period of time, Durant will carry heavy scoring loads. If Irving does play or is traded for another star, Durant will still dominate. He was out of this world in the Summer Olympics and will carry that onto the season.
Expect Durant to average 27 or 28 points at the very least, but mostly due to sitting out plenty of fourth quarters. He’ll be an extremely efficient star and carry Brooklyn deep into the postseason.
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