Moore & Wob: Our NBA Awards Leaderboard Update, Hole 14
- What if the NBA season ended today? Who would win MVP, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, Most Improved Player, Executive of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year?
- Matt Moore and Rob Perez take a look at the landscape with only 20-25 games left in the 2018-19 NBA season.
Throughout the season, I (Wob) have been tracking who my leader in the clubhouse is to win every major NBA end-of-season award, including:
- Most Valuable Player
- Rookie of the Year
- Sixth Man of the Year
- Most Improved Player
- Coach of the Year
- Executive of the Year
- Defensive Player of the Year
MVP: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Wob: Can we take a quick second to appreciate Wilt Chamberlain? I understand his competition was a bunch of Kyle Singlers, but the fact that James Harden was even in the same stratosphere of some of his records, against the talent level he has to face in 2019, is one of the most ridiculous offensive stretches in NBA history.
What Harden did with Chris Paul and Eric Gordon out cannot be overlooked, but here are the problems:
- Voter fatigue
- Energizer Giannis
Harden won last year. The MVP trophy, throughout time, has been awarded to the player who had the best season — not necessarily the best player in the league, otherwise LeBron and Jordan would have won it for a decade straight.
To draw the attention of voters and repeat, he was going to have to do the unthinkable: have a better season than last year. For three weeks, he did just that, which explains his MVP odds exploding to -500 at one point.
But here’s the problem: Giannis has not stopped, does not stop and will never stop. He hasn’t taken his foot off the gas since Day 1 of the season. While Harden had the world’s attention occupied, Giannis just kept spreading doom on the rest of the league under-the-radar.
In his last 10 games (not counting last night with his minutes monitored), Giannis has AVERAGED:
- 29.8 points
- 12.3 rebounds
- 6.8 assists
- 1.5 steals
- 1.6 blocks
With 60.7% – 40.0% – 79.5% shooting splits.
He’s the best player on the team with the best record in the league. He’s arguably better on defense than he is on offense. No matter how many Wilt records Harden breaks, he will never be able to say that.
Moore: The straw poll results really suprised me. Giannis is way ahead of the pack at this point. And, to tease my deeper dive on this that’s coming down the road, I think the reason is best described as follows:
Giannis Antetokounmpo is the most dominant player in the league this season. He takes over games offensively. He takes over games defensively. His team just runs rougshod over you. He’s physically dominant. He’s skill-dominant with his passing. That’s why the Bucks have won all these games vs. all these different opponents — good, bad, mediocre, whatever. He’s the most dominant player in the league.
What is most interesting to me at this point is that I truly think Paul George is second, and that’s wild considering Harden is averaging the second-most points per game in the last 50 years while also posting eight assists a game.
Rookie of the Year: Luka Doncic
Wob: This race has been over for quite a while, but for the sake of content I’d like to play devil’s advocate for a second.
Trae Young’s splits the last 30 games: 43.9% – 40.4% – 84.8%.
He has the most amount of 30-point games for the Hawks franchise since Dominique Wilkins.
Check out this stretch:
- 27 points (9-21 FG) and 8 assists vs. Suns
- 28 points (9-20 FG) and 9 assists vs. Jazz
- 23 points (7-12 FG) and 8 assists vs. Kings
- 26 points (10-18 FG) and 8 assists vs. Clippers
- 30 points (11-15 FG) and 8 assists vs. Blazers
And 53.5% – 42.9% – 80% shooting in these five games specifically.
Luka so far this season: 43% – 35% – 72%.
Trae has really turned it around fast, and his highlights are starting to stack up.
Is it THAT much of a blowout? No. Does the eye test confirm Luka is the unanimous Rookie of the Year? Yes.
Moore: I don’t get the angst over Trae not being higher up in the conversation. He’s going to win second place hands-down. He’s going to get a fair amount of first-place votes. He’s had a great rookie season, and everyone knowledgeable says, “Yeah, he’s having a really great year, especially the last two months.”
He’s not overlooked or disrespected. Luka being consistently the best rookie player in the league and the best player on a team over 30 wins is not some sort of massive insult.
Here’s a more interesting question: Who’s going to have the better career? Because honestly? I think Young might have a little more upside.
I’m not saying Luka won’t improve, but I can see Doncic being in the same range for his career. Then again, I had wondered if he was a guy who could lead you in scoring, and he’s been ballistic. This is going to be fun for years to come.