2021 Award Predictions (12/13/20)

Making predictions is fun. I’m not exactly an expert, but I’m gonna make some award predictions. I’m gonna give my top ten for each award, and elaborate on the top five. 

Sixth Man of the Year

Honorable Mentions: Brandon Clarke, Terry Rozier, Eric Bledsoe, Eric Paschall, Monte Morris, Shake Milton, Eric Gordon

10-6:

10- Carmelo Anthony

9- Terrence Ross

8- Jordan Clarkson

7- Ricky Rubio

6- Norman Powell

5: Derrick Rose

It’s already been announced that Killian Hayes will start over Derrick Rose. Rose is simply a bucket. Though he isn’t at his MVP level anymore, I expect him to average around 18 points and 6 assists this year. The Pistons are an inexperienced team, and Rose will probably have lots of responsibility. The only reason he isn’t higher is the Pistons suck, so his numbers won’t mean much. If he gets traded and keeps up his numbers, he could finish top three for this award

4: Danilo Gallinari

Gallinari will come off the bench this year so John Collins can start, as he should. If he could guard small forwards, he would start, but he can’t and De’Andre Hunter will start. Gallinari will bring great veteran experience and great scoring off the bench for a Hawks team looking to win. He will get passes from Rondo, so he could shoot 40+ percent from three this year. He really could also finish in the top three, but this one was close.

3: Lou Williams

I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if Gallinari or Rose finish ahead of Lou. There are two reasons I put him here. The main reason is that the Clippers will be really good, and contributing to a winning team is always an advantage in award races. The other is that the voters clearly love Lou Williams. Don’t me wrong, he’s good, but he’s just a great scorer. He’s bad on defense. Spencer Dinwiddie should have finished in the top three last year instead of Lou Williams. But this year he’ll get another placement in the top three.

2: Montrezl Harrell

I’m not a huge Montrezl Harrell fan. I will always argue that Dennis Schroder should have won the award last year over Montrezl. The advantage just went to the bigger name. Despite that, I wouldn’t have been able to put Harrell lower than this. He just joined a better team, so he’ll have team success, and his efficiency should improve this year. After all, he’ll have LeBron freaking James (and Alex Caruso) dishing him the ball. I wouldn’t be too surprised if he wins this year, but I think the guy above him has a better chance.

1: Spencer Dinwiddie

This is Dinwiddie’s year. Assuming Kyrie can stay healthy, Dinwiddie will come off the bench. He likely won’t average 20 again, but if he averages around 17 points and 7 assists, he should have this award in the bag. The Nets will probably win a lot of games, which helps him. The biggest reason I think he’ll win is this. If Kyrie is injured, Dinwiddie is not a massive downgrade. The Nets would still win a lot of games with Dinwiddie filling Kyrie’s spot (and not just because they have Durant.) The only reason Dinwiddie didn’t place top three last year is because he was basically the starter. That won’t be the case this year, so he should win. 

Most Improved Player

Honorable Mentions: Marvin Bagley, Derrick White, Brandon Clarke, Ja Morant, Chris Boucher, Christian Wood, Rui Hachimura, Caris LeVert, Collin Sexton

10-6:

10- Darius Bazley

9- P.J. Washington

8- Jerami Grant

7- Tyler Herro

6- Lonzo Ball

5: OG Anunoby

OG Anunoby is really good. If he improves his shot creation, Kawhi Leonard comparisons he’s received will be pretty accurate. He’s already a very good defender, and I expect him to take an offensive jump this season. I expect Kyle Lowry’s scoring to go down a little, and Aron Baynes won’t take all the shots that Serge Ibaka left. Those shots will go to Anunoby. I expect him to jump to at least 15 points per game, and he will be in contention for an All-Defensive team this year.

4: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

I really like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. He has the potential to be a top shooting guard in the league one day. He’ll probably average 20 this year. He’s learned a lot of CP3. There are two reasons why he won’t crack the top three. The first will be his efficiency. He was pretty efficient last year (47% FG, 34% 3PT), but that might go down a little this year as his shot volume goes up. The other reason is that I expect MIP type seasons from multiple other Thunder players. I have Darius Bazely finishing in the top ten, and I considered Hamidou Diallo and Frank Jackson for this list as well. Luguentz Dort could also make a jump. All that improvement, as well as a likely lack of success from OKC, will likely take shine away from Shai. But I’m excited for what he’ll do this year.

3: Michael Porter Jr.

This might be low for a lot of people. But I stand by Michael Porter being overrated. I’ve had arguments in Instagram and TikTok comments with Michael Porter fan pages on why I think so. For one, he’s gotta improve on defense. Maybe he can do that his season. The other one is I think he’s kind of a shot-chucker. He shot 42% from three in 2020, but it was on two attempts. But watching him play in the bubble, I swear he took a three every time he caught the ball in the corner. His trigger-happy shot selection needs to improve this year too. Of course, my dislike of MPJ doesn’t blind me from realizing he is good. The way he plays and the numbers he has put up show star potential. I think he’ll likely start this year, and he will improve a lot. After all, that’s why I have him here on the list.

2: Jamal Murray

Now I look like a Nuggets hater. Jamal Murray and MPJ are probably the two favorites for the award this year. Don’t get me wrong, I think Jamal Murray is a good player. His playoff run was way too good to ignore, even for a guy like me who isn’t a Nuggets fan. (I’m not a hater, just not a fan. As a DeMar DeRozan fan, the 2019 first round series between Denver and San Antonio resulted in this.) Jamal, in order to win this award, has to average 20, improve on defense, and be in All-Star contention. He can do all three of those things. If he wins, I wouldn’t be surprised whatsoever. In fact, though I’m predicting otherwise, I would bet money on Jamal winning this award. I’m just predicting otherwise for the fun of it.

1: DeAndre Ayton

This is an out-of-the-box pick. But I believe in Ayton’s improvement this year. The main reason for this is Chris Paul. DeAndre will benefit immensely from Paul’s passing. I will be tuning into Suns games this year. DeAndre can be a post-dominant player, and Chris Paul will help him get there. The pick-and-roll will be crazy. Ayton does more than just post scoring. He’s shown some promise from three point range (23% last year.) If he can shoot 30% from three this year, he can be an All-Star. He’s also a great defender (1.5 BPG and 0.7 SPG in 2019-20.) People seem to forget Ayton when talking about the 2018 draft because of guys like Luka Doncic and Trae Young. He was picked first for a reason. He’s really good, and will show that this year. 

Rookie of the Year

(Note: I am less knowledgeable about the rookies than everyone else. I’ll have less to say about these rookies. Sorry)

Honorable Mentions: Patrick Williams, Precious Achiuwa, Onyeka Okongwu, Devin Vassell, Malachi Flynn 

10-6:

10- Bol Bol

9- Tyrese Haliburton

8- Cole Anthony

7- Isaac Okoro

6- Obi Toppin

5: Deni Avdija

Now, as I mentioned before, I’m not a draft expert. But I thought Deni Avdija was going to get drafted higher. He slides into Washington’s weakest position in SF, and will look to start over Troy Brown. He can shoot, he can make plays well for a forward, and he’s a solid defender. He will help Washington try to make the playoffs.

4: Killian Hayes

Hayes is another rookie coming from overseas. He has been given the keys from Detroit, as he has been named the starter for the upcoming season. He will likely put up some good scoring and passing numbers on a Detroit team that is lacking top talent. Learning from Derrick Rose will also benefit him greatly. 

3: Anthony Edwards

Edwards will be a useful player for a Minnesota team that lacks defense. He was the best fit out of the top three players in the draft for the Wolves. The thing preventing him from winning the award is that the Wolves wing position will be a logjam. Edwards, Malik Beasley, Jarrett Culver, and Josh Okogie will all compete for minutes, which means Anthony’s numbers won’t likely look as good.

2: LaMelo Ball

Last night (December 12th), LaMelo Ball played his first preseason game. His playmaking looked very very good. But he didn’t score a basket. LaMelo will likely get the most media coverage out of all the rookies, so if he wins the award it would be no surprise. The problem is that the Hornets won’t be a playoff team, so even if LaMelo puts up great numbers, he might be at a disadvantage to my number one prediction.

1: James Wiseman

James Wiseman fills the Warriors hole at center. And he is very NBA ready. His athleticism is great. He will finish at the rim, he’ll block shots, and he’ll play hard in general. To do that on a winning team makes him my choice as Rookie of the Year.

Defensive Player of the Year

Honorable Mentions: Paul George, Jrue Holiday, Jaylen Brown, Jaren Jackson Jr., Robert Covington, Mitchell Robinson, Brook Lopez, Draymond Green

10-6:

10- Joel Embiid

9- LeBron James

8- Marcus Smart

7- Bam Adebayo

6- Rudy Gobert

5: Ben Simmons

Ben Simmons will slide in this season and take Rudy Gobert’s spot in the top five for DPOY. Ben is the best defensive guard in the NBA. He can defend every position. He led the league in steals last year. Daryl Morey said on Instagram today (December 13th) that his one word to describe Philly’s identity for this season is suffocating (defense.) Simmons will be the lead perimeter defender.

4: Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi is the best wing defender in the NBA. He is absolutely exceptional on defense. I honestly feel dirty putting him this low. My reasoning is simple for why I have him this low. I don’t think the Clippers will not be good enough defensively for Kawhi to get a top three nod. But that doesn’t take away from Kawhi’s god-like individual defense ability. If you need justification, just find the clip of Kawhi’s one finger block. 

3: Jimmy Butler

Jimmy is the definition of hard work. He shows pure effort on the defensive end. He led the Heat to a top 10 defense in 2020 (And the Heat have Duncan Robinson.) I think Jimmy is going to get the recognition he deserves by getting a top three DPOY nod this year. Need justification for Jimmy’s placement? Watch any Heat game. Jimmy is extremely impressive.

2: Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis was soooooo close to getting the number one placement for me. His disadvantage will be explained when I talk about the number one guy. But Anthony Davis is an extremely versatile defender. It’s crazy that a 6’11”guy can block someone’s shot and on the next possession lock up a guard on the perimeter. I also feel dirty for not giving him the award. The DPOY race has no business being this close.

1: Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis is a defensive monster. This is his award to win this year. I think there will be voter fatigue in the MVP race for Giannis this year, but not DPOY. His edge over AD? Team defense. Giannis and AD can be equally great on D, but if the Bucks are a better defensive team, then he’ll win the award. And that’s what I think will happen. 

Most Valuable Player

Honorable Mentions: Jimmy Butler, Jayson Tatum, Trae Young, Devin Booker, Joel Embiid, Bradley Beal, Donovan Mitchell

10-6:

10- Nikola Jokic

9- Kawhi Leonard

8- James Harden

7- Kevin Durant

6- Damian Lillard

5: LeBron James

We all know that LeBron James is a top two player to ever touch a basketball. But this season, he finishes fifth in MVP voting. I have him here because I think he’ll let AD take over this year. But even LeBron being the second scorer is good enough to get top five. He’s the greatest passing forward ever (and one of the best passers period), and he’ll finish top ten in DPOY voting. LeBron is basically a lock for top five in MVP voting this year.

4: Stephen Curry

It’s hard to count a top two point guard ever (as well as the best shooter ever) out from the MVP race. He could have been top three if the Klay Thompson injury didn’t happen. The Warriors might not be a top five seed in the West anymore, and that hurts Curry’s chances. But he’ll still likely put up MVP numbers, which lands him fourth in my MVP predictions. 

3: Giannis Antetokounmpo

Everything is there for Giannis that was there last year. The dominant finishing, the defense, and the team success will likely be there as well. The lack of shooting consistency is also still there (If you watched his first preseason game, you know why I say that. I just made that sound like some kind of middle school thing. “Only the real ones know.” I didn’t know how else to word it.) The new factor for Giannis? Voter fatigue. He is an MVP caliber player still, no doubt, but for him to three peat as an MVP is unlikely. Hurts to say that as a Bucks fan.

2: Anthony Davis

I’ve gotta be honest. I really wanted to give MVP to AD. I just couldn’t. Anthony Davis is unbelievably good. Watching him play the whole 2020 playoffs made me realize that AD is better than Giannis (my heart hurts. Guess I’m not a good Bucks fan.) I’d give this award to AD if the next man on this list didn’t exist. Sorry Anthony.

1: Luka Doncic

Everybody loves Luka. Personally I don’t, but everyone else does. With the type of numbers he puts up, it would be a crime to not have him top three at least. Add that with how likeable he is, and he’s basically a lock to win it this year. The one knock on him would be that the Mavs might not be a top five seed in the West. But that’s not Luka’s fault. He’s too good. So Luka will be the 2021 NBA MVP.

All-NBA Teams

All-NBA First

G- Stephen Curry

G- Luka Doncic

F- Anthony Davis

F- Giannis Antetokounmpo

C- Nikola Jokic

All-NBA Second

G- Damian Lillard

G- James Harden

F- LeBron James

F- Kevin Durant

C- Joel Embiid

All-NBA Third

G- Trae Young

G- Devin Booker

F- Kawhi Leonard

F- Jimmy Butler

C- Karl-Anthony Towns

All-Defensive First

G- Ben Simmons

G- Marcus Smart

F- Giannis Antetokounmpo

F- Anthony Davis

C- Rudy Gobert

All-Defensive Second

G- Jrue Holiday

G- Jaylen Brown

F- Jimmy Butler

F- Kawhi Leonard

C- Joel Embiid

All-Rookie First

James Wiseman

LaMelo Ball

Anthony Edwards

Killian Hayes

Deni Avdija

All-Rookie Second

Obi Toppin

Isaac Okoro

Cole Anthony

Tyrese Haliburton

Bol Bol

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