Despite the fact that the 2017-18 NBA season hasn’t even started, it’s never too early to predict the end of season awards. From the best rookie to the best player, we go through each award below.
Sixth Man of the Year: Rudy Gay
Gay’s injury last year prevented him from making an impact for the Kings. Despite that, Gay was still a sought-after free agent this off-season. Many expected Gay to go to a young team in need of a wing player, where he would be a starter. However, the Spurs yet again pulled a rabbit out of a hat and signed Gay. Gay is a versatile wing player, able to knock down the three, attack the rim, and be a decent defensive player. Obviously, Gay will be coming off the bench for Leonard, but anytime you have a starting calibre player coming off of the bench, you know your team is loaded. Gay, much like Iguodala for the Warriors, is a former star who has sacrificed minutes and money for a championship ring.
Rookie of the Year: Lonzo Ball
When you have a draft as stacked as the 2017 draft, it will be hard to say who’s going to be the best rookie. In our mind, that’s Lonzo. The oldest Ball brother will be a real hit or miss. If he lives up to the hype, he could very quickly become one of the best young players in the league. His potential was shown in the Summer League, securing triple-doubles and controlling the game. Additionally, Magic Johnson is committed to making the Lakers “Lonzo’s team”. However, his unconventional shot, lack of strong defence and…a certain parental figure…could be his downfall. Still, we have faith that he will lie up to his hype.
Defensive Player of the Year: Draymond Green
Similar to last year, there will again be a battle between Green and Gobert as to who is the league’s best defender. However, once again, Green will take the edge. Green’s ability to defend all 5 positions despite his size makes him a defensive nightmare. While Gobert is strong in the paint, Green has a unique ability to dominate both the perimeter and the key. The 2017 Defensive Player of the Year will once again be the anchor of the Golden State Warriors.
Most Improved Player: Brandon Ingram
Fans last season were split on Ingram’s rookie season. Some were disappointed in his lack of dominance, as well as the fact he only made the All-Rookie 2nd Team. This, for a 2nd overall pick, was deemed a failure. Others, however, understood the situation he was in and knew he wouldn’t flourish straight away. This year, Ingram is set to rise. Similar to Lonzo, Johnson has thrown 100% support behind Ingram. With the Lakers set to build up their young core, Ingram will finally get the starting spot he needs to make an impact. Just imagine the lobs from Ball. Ingram, Ball and Randle could be the rebirth of the Showtime Lakers.
Most Valuable Player: Kawhi Leonard
The MVP race this year will be tight. Unlike last year with Westbrook, there isn’t someone who will clearly dominate. Westbrook will most likely not average another triple-double. Harden will move back to the 2 spot and thus limit his productivity. George hasn’t proven he’s MVP calibre, Durant is playing for a super-team and Lebron James is suffering voter fatigue. Therefore, the only likely star is Kawhi Leonard. last year, Kawhi was third in voting behind Harden and eventual MVP, Russel Westbrook. But these two stars had phenomenal seasons which will most likely not be replicated again this year. Therefore, if Leonard is consistent this year, he will have the stats to make an MVP case. Let’s not forget also that the Spurs are the Patriots of the NFL, and that it is highly likely that they will once again be a 50+ win team. A top 2 seeded spot in the West, superstar stats and the fact that the Klaw still hasn’t entered his prime are all viable reasons as to why Leonard will take home the MVP award in 2018.