Zach’s Picks for the 2017 NBA Awards

Zach Blatter, Staff Writer

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It was a long and exciting NBA season, and now that it’s over, it’s time for the awards. Here are my picks.

 

Most Valuable Player- Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

How does one AVERAGE a triple-double (double digits in three categories) and not win MVP? Russell Westbrook put up a historic season. You might as well call him Mr. Triple Double. The man averaged a triple double (the second player ever to do so), put up 42 triple-doubles over the season (most ever), and absolutely CARRIED his Thunder to the NBA Playoffs. Although Westbrook was closely matched by James Harden of the Houston Rockets, Harden simply did not jump off the page as much as Westbrook this season.

 

Rookie of the Year- Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

 

To be honest, this year wasn’t a great one for the rookies.  Number one overall pick in the draft Ben Simmons missed the whole season with injuries, and other top picks such as Brandon Ingram and Jaylen Brown did not perform as well as expected. Aside from this, we have Joel Embiid, who was drafted third overall in the 2014 NBA Draft. Embiid missed his first two seasons with injury, so he was technically still a rookie three years after his draft. Embiid’s injury plague did not stop there as he missed 51 games this season. But in the few games he did play in, Embiid showed that he was the best youngster in the NBA. Embiid posted 20.2 points per game and 7.8 rebounds a game. Not only did Embiid put on a show on the court, he built major publicity for his team when he dubbed himself “The Process.” The Sixers haven’t made the playoffs since what seems like an eternity ago, but Embiid has told his fans to “Trust the Process.”

 

Most Improved Player- James Johnson, Miami Heat

 

Forward James Johnson was a major piece of the Miami Heat team that finished the season 30-11. After involuntarily dismantling the 2012 and 2013 Championship-winning team via Free Agency, it looked like the Heat were in for their second straight 50+ loss season. Well, that wasn’t the case. After spending the first seven seasons of his career as a bench player on four different teams, James Johnson has found a home in Miami as the starting Power Forward. Johnson posted just under 13 points and 5 rebounds a game, while also making an impact on the defensive end of the court, averaging one block and one steal a game. Unfortunately for the Heat, even after their insane surge in the second half of the season, they ended up missing the playoffs by a hair.

Sixth Man of the Year- Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets

 

Backing up MVP candidate James Harden, Eric Gordon posted a career best season during his first year as a Rocket. Gordon averaged just over 16 points per game and was also in the top tier of the league in three-point shooting, finishing with a percentage of 37.2. With the help of Gordon, the Rockets surprised everyone this season, and ended up grabbing the third seed in the West.

 

Defensive Player of the Year- Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors

 

Defense isn’t just about the steals and the blocks, but it also about the mental game, getting in your opponent’s head, and forcing a mistake. Forward Draymond Green does just that, while putting up insane numbers at the same time. While contributing to one of the best defenses in basketball, Green averaged 2.0 steals, 1.6 blocks, and 6.6 defensive rebounds per game. Aside from this, Green’s notoriously bad attitude helped him build a true defensive reputation (and bring him 15 technical fouls).

 

Coach of the Year- Erik Spoelstra, Miami Heat

 

It wasn’t just James Johnson behind the Heat’s unbelievable season turnaround. Whenever there are problems in a sports franchise, the coaching is the first to take the blame. Early in the season, when the Heat were too many games below .500 and on their way to another lottery pick, Spoelstra turned the team around. Considering the lack of true talent on the Heat’s roster, and the fact that their star sophomore Justise Winslow missed almost the entire season with injury, it is truly amazing that the Heat managed to finish the season 41-41.

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