It’s that time of the year! The NBA season starts this Tuesday and the anticipation for tip-off is at an all-time high. Basketball fanatics worldwide are about to witness the first truly competitive season in quite some time. With all of this built up anticipation comes a lot of questions. Which squad has what it takes to go the distance and win it all? What team will go beyond expectations and have a breakout season? Who will bring home the MVP trophy in June? As an NBA fanatic, I’ve always been the most interested in the regular season awards. Other than a championship ring, these awards are always the most important feats in a player’s career. That being said, lets get into the NoLimitJumper NBA awards predictions.
The NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award: Fred VanVleet
If you were to ask me what players had the biggest impact on the Raptors championship campaign last year, this man would be in the top three. VanVleet is a very smart guard that maximizes his opportunities and does a great job being a spark plug off the bench. He has proven himself to be a formidable offensive threat, while being very undersized for a combo guard at a mere six feet tall. With the departure of superstar Kawhi Leonard, there will be a lot of touches up for grabs. Because of the immense impact that VanVleet brought to the team last season, expect to see the ball in his hands more often. Coming off of an NBA championship, Freddy V is on fire, and I believe that momentum will carry into the 19-20 season as he continues to make a name for himself as the next Lou Williams.
Runner Ups: Lou Williams and Spencer Dinwiddie
Dark Horse: Jaylen Brown (If he comes off the bench this season)
The NBA Most Improved Player Award: Jayson Tatum
The Celtics were one of the teams that were completely rearranged this off-season. Most fans saw Kyrie Irving leave and thought that it was the end of the Celtics, I saw it as an opportunity for a rising star to emerge into the limelight. Now that Kyrie is out and Kemba is in, Tatum has the chance to truly be a primary scoring option for Boston. He is a tall, lengthy, strong forward with guard-like handles, an elite stroke from deep, and an impressive feel for the game for his age. Jayson Tatum has the skill-set to become one of the league’s best scorers, and he will show his true colors this season. Over the past two years, we have witnessed the talent of Tatum, but we have never seen him as the focal point of the offense. This is the year Jayson Tatum will exceed expectations, and take the NBA by storm.
Runner Ups: Dejounte Murray and Brandon Ingram
Dark Horse: Bam Adebayo
The NBA Coach of the Year: Doc Rivers
Doc Rivers has changed the entire attitude of this Clippers franchise. He transformed a team formally known as “Lob City” to a basketball team based upon grit, grind, and heart. Rivers has always had a knack for getting the best effort he can out of all of his players, and humbling their large ego’s. He turned a misfit Clippers squad into a playoff contender and gave the Warriors the hardest match up they faced in the entire Western Conference. With this new and improved squad, and Doc’s legendary coaching ability, the Clippers will soar through the league and into championship contention.
Runner Ups: Frank Vogel and Mike Malone Dark Horse: Quinn Snyder
The NBA Rookie of the Year Award: Zion Williamson
Coming out of Duke as the number one overall pick, Zion Williamson has been one of the most hyped-up prospects since Lebron James back in 02-03. So far, it looks like the hype is true, in his four games played this pre-season, Zion has averaged 23ppg 6.5rpg 2.3apg and 1.5spg (Via Fox Sports). Even though he is undersized for a big, Zion is elite when finishing at the rim and a very mature style of play, along with his paranormal athletic ability. On a young, developing, Pelicans team with no real primary scoring option, Zion will take over this team and become an All-Star in his rookie year. He has the talent to be a 20 and 10 type of a player and given four or five years, Zion Williamson will rule the NBA.
Runner Ups: Ja Morant and Coby White
Dark Horse: Michael Porter Jr.
The NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Following an MVP season and being a runner up for DPOY, Giannis has his eyes set on doing even better. The Greek Freak is nearly a seven foot demigod. He can guard every position, and be his team’s best rim protector. He has the speed to keep up with guards and the strength and toughness to hang around with bigs. Giannis’s vast impact on the defensive end didn’t always show up on the box score, but he caused a lot of misses with that long wingspan. Last year he led the league in defensive win shares, defensive +/-, and defensive efficiency. Entering his seventh year in the league, Giannis is gunning for a championship, and he will win the DPOY on the way there.
Runner Ups: Rudy Gobert and Joel Embiid
Dark Horse: Kawhi Leonard
The NBA Regular Season Most Valuable Player Award: Stephen Curry
Even though Golden State lost Kevin Durant, they will still be a force in the NBA. This will be because of Steph Curry. Curry has the power to take full control of this team once again, and have a similar season to his performance in 2016. Not a 73-9 season again, but Curry can have a 30-35ppg season without a doubt. During last postseason, Curry led a injury prone Warriors squad to five straight wins going into the finals and even took two games from Kawhi’s Raptors. If D’Angelo Russel fits in with the Warriors and Klay Thompson comes back healthy, Curry will lead this team to a three-seed in the west and make a strong playoff run. Head Coach Steve Kerr even said that at the ripe age of 31, Steph is “…at his peak physically, mentally,” and “He’s seen every defense that people have thrown at him during his career, and he’s ready to have a great year” (The San Francisco Chronicle). This coming NBA season, Steph will enter the top-5 conversation once again and win his third MVP award.
Runner Ups: Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic
Dark Horse: Joel Embiid