The Santa Clara
January 18, 2018
Defensive Player of the Year – Al Horford (Boston Celtics)
ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF AP
Kyrie Irving is the main head-turner with the revamped Celtics, but Al Horford is arguably the more valuable player (especially on defense). Horford is very reliable on that half of the floor, with his ability to defend multiple positions, both in the low post and on the perimeter. This is Horford’s award to lose because Boston presently sits first place in the East, they have the top defense in the league and any other contenders for this award are currently injured.
Most Improved Player – Victor Oladipo (Indiana Pacers)
The Pacers are currently sixth in the East, and after hearing all summer that they got next to nothing in return for Paul George, Victor Oladipo has not only been a serviceable replacement, but looks like a key player Indiana can build around moving forward. The 25-year-old is averaging 24.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists and two steals, while shooting 49.2 percent from the field and 42.1 percent from three. Sure his usage rate has exploded since the trade, but Oladipo has performed far above expectations and pretty much has this award locked up.
Rookie of the Year – Ben Simmons (Philedelphia 76ers)
By the end of the year, we might have to look at Simmons’ rookie season and see where it ranks among the all-time best rookie seasons in league history. The numbers are impressive—16.9 points, 8.2 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 1.9 steals. Beyond that, it’s his poise and leadership that’s leading the 76ers to contend for a playoff spot after years of embarrassing seasons. Simmons still doesn’t have a jump shot, and he’s probably still a few years away from that, yet his ability to find open looks both for himself and teammates have been impressive—even LeBron James-esque. Barring injury, which has plagued him, the Sixers have themselves the Rookie of the Year and a future franchise player.
Most Valuable Player – LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Cleveland might end up finishing with only the third-best record in the East behind Boston and Toronto. You will hear “experts” in the media saying that the Cavaliers won’t return to the Finals and that LeBron’s reign as King of the NBA is coming to an end. This could not be more wrong. LeBron James is having arguably his best run ever in terms of efficiency and production during his fifteenth, yes, fifteenth season in the league. LeBron has gaudy numbers (28.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 8.8 assists) and a career narrative to make a case to win a fifth MVP award, and eventually reach an eighth straight Finals. The NBA is kidding itself if it doesn’t recognize the sheer value of the best player in the game. It is without question that King James will finish the season with his fifth MVP, tying Michael Jordan, and further cementing himself as the G.O.A.T.
Contact Alex Stewart at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.