Harden, James, Davis lead NBA Awards finalists

Last year, the NBA shifted from the progressive announcement of winners of their annual awards during the Playoffs to an awards show after the season honoring the awardees. Just like any awards show, they release a shortlist of nominees who will vie for each award. The finalists for this year’s NBA Awards are based on global polling results from a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. The NBA Awards will be on June 25 (June 26 Philippine Time)

Here are this year’s finalists for the NBA Awards.

Most Valuable Player

James Harden – Houston Rockets
LeBron James, Forward – Cleveland Cavaliers
Anthony Davis, Center – New Orleans Pelicans

Slowly but surely, these three elevated themselves as the elite of the elite this season. LeBron James bucked the loss of Kyrie Irving and led the Cleveland Cavaliers back to the Playoffs. He averaged 27.5 points to go with a career-best 8.6 rebounds and 9.1 assists.

Anthony Davis also lost an All-Star teammate in DeMarcus Cousins this season. But he powered the Pelicans late in the season with historic performances. Davis finished with an average of 28.1 points and 11.1 rebounds.

James Harden was terrific all season long. He had a record-setting 60-point triple double and led the league in scoring. Harden averaged 30.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists to lead the Houston Rockets to the best record in the league with 67 wins.

Rookie of the Year

Donovan Mitchell – Utah Jazz
Ben Simmons – Philadephia 76ers
Jayson Tatum – Boston Celtics

Donovan Mitchell burst onto the scene in December when he started the month off with a 40-point explosion. From then on, he never let go of the Rookie of the Month award for the West. Mitchell averaged a team-high 20.5 points and was the scoring punch the Jazz needed this year.

Ben Simmons was a consistent triple-double threat this season. He finished with 12 triple doubles, the most for any rookie in the league. Simmons averaged 15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 8.2 assists. When Joel Embiid went down, it was Simmons that led the way as the Sixers racked up 16 straight wins.

Jayson Tatum filled in for the injured Gordon Hayward seamlessly. He jumped straight to the starting line-up after the Hayward injury to contribute 13.8 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.

Defensive Player of the Year

Rudy Gobert – Utah Jazz
Joel Embiid – Philadelphia 76ers
Anthony Davis – New Orleans Pelicans

Rudy Gobert is the centerpiece for one of the best defenses in the league. He used his length and athleticism to deter multiple shots in the paint. He averaged 2.3 blocks per game but his impact went beyond those numbers.

Joel Embiid was the primary reason the Sixers improved incredibly on defense. He was an agile defender that could switch out to the perimeter or hold his own in the paint. He averaged 1.8 blocks per game.

Davis was a beast on the defensive end. He led the league in blocks at 2.6 per game. He also had 1.5 steals per game as the leader of the Pelicans defense.

Coach of the Year

Dwayne Casey – Toronto Raptors
Quin Snyder – Utah Jazz
Brad Stevens – Boston Celtics

Dwayne Casey suffered a massive meltdown in the Playoffs. But before all that his Raptors team was a business-like machine that owned the Eastern Conference. Toronto had their best finish in franchise history with 59 wins.

Quin Snyder lost an All-Star but his Jazz team almost replicated last year’s win total, missing the mark by only three wins. Snyder built a superstar-less system where everyone contributes and plays hard on the defensive end.

Brad Stevens is the play-calling wonder boy that constructed the best defense in the league. Even without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, the Celtics continued to chug along at the top of the East.

Sixth Man of the Year

Eric Gordon – Houston Rockets
Lou Williams – LA Clippers
Fred Van Vleet – Toronto Raptors

Eric Gordon is out to defend last year’s Sixth Man of the Year award. He continued to be the scoring option off the bench for the high-octane Rockets. Gordon averaged 18 points on 42% shooting.

Lou Williams carried the Clippers when they didn’t have any All-Stars available. He averaged 22.6 points and 5.3 assists this year.

Fred Van Vleet was the leader of the Raptors bench mob. He assumed scoring or playmaking duties when one of their two All-Stars headed to the bench. He averaged 8.6 points and 3.2 assists this season.

Most Improved Player of the Year

Victor Oladipo – Indiana Pacers
Clint Capela – Houston Rockets
Spencer Dinwiddie – Brooklyn Nets

Last year, Victor Oladipo was barely the third option. But a homecoming to Indiana boosted his stock. Oladipo made his first All-Star game as he led the Pacers with 23.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists a night.

Clint Capela continues to break out in Houston. This season he’s the finisher of Harden or Chris Paul lobs. Capela assumed the main big man role in Houston and he finished with career-high 13.9 point and 10.8 rebound averages.

When Brooklyn had no guard options left, they turned to Spencer Dinwiddie. The young guard didn’t disappoint as he hit several game-winners and led his team in scoring in some games. Dinwiddie finished with a career-best 12.6 points and 6.6 assists.

Photos from NBA.com

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