The NBA announced the finalists for their end-of-season awards on Thursday night. Each award will come down to one of three candidates, with the winners being announced after the playoffs.
The MVP race will be a tight one, with three very deserving finalists. Stephen Curry ended the season as the NBA’s leading scorer, averaging 32 points per game this year while shooting 42.1 percent from three-point range on over 12 attempts per game.
Nikola Jokic, the favorite for the award, played in every game this season and averaged 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 8.3 assists per game. Joel Embiid had an incredible season and is averaging 28.5 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game.
Defensive Player of the Year may be less of a mystery, with Rudy Gobert, who is averaging 13.5 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game, is the runaway favorite. Ben Simmons, who is averaging 7.2 boards and 1.6 steals per game, and Draymond Green (7.1 rebounds, 1.7 steals) both had excellent seasons on the defensive end as well.
SIXTH MAN FINALISTS:
The sixth man of the year will come down to a pair of Utah Jazz players, Jordan Clarkson and Joe Ingles, and Derrick Rose. Clarkson has been a scoring machine all year, averaging 18.4 points per game.
As for his teammate, Ingles has a well-rounded case and is averaging 12.1 points, 4.7 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game. Rose has been no slouch either, with his time with the Knicks proving crucial to their success and averaging 14.7 points per game to boot.
Rookie of the Year is down to three young guards. Anthony Edwards put up gaudy scoring numbers all season, averaging 19.3 points per game, while LaMelo Ball’s 15.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game for a near playoff team is hard to ignore. Tyrese Haliburton is a distant third in this race, but he had a very respectable rookie season for Sacramento.
MOST IMPROVED FINALISTS:
The Most Improved Player Award is another one where little debate is needed. Julius Randle has had an unbelievable season for the Knicks, going for more than 24.1 points per game on the fourth-best team in the Eastern Conference while being named an All-Star.
The two other finalists are one current Denver Nugget, Michael Porter Jr., and one former Nugget, Jerami Grant. Porter Jr. took a huge step in his second season, averaging 19 points per game while shooting 44.5 percent from three-point range. Grant went from averaging no more than 14 points per game at any point in his career to averaging 22.3 points per game.
COACH OF THE YEAR FINALISTS:
Quin Snyder and Monty Williams will both have excellent cases, leading their teams to first and second in the Western Conference, respectively. Tom Thibodeau has a great case himself, taking a Knicks team that finished 12th in the Eastern Conference last year and pushing them to fourth in his first season.