Another fantastic NBA regular season has come and gone, and it is once again time for NBA award selection.
Picking my winners was tough this year. There wasn’t a clear winner for a single accolade, and there were a lot of guys I wanted to show love to. Just like last year, I will give three finalists and my winner. Let’s get into it!
Coach of the Year
Honorable Mentions- Taylor Jenkins, Tyronn Lue, Ime Udoka, J.B. Bickerstaff, Gregg Popovich
Finalist: Erik Spoelstra
The Miami Heat finished atop the Eastern Conference, and Spoelstra deserves a ton of credit for that especially considering Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Kyle Lowry all missed significant time at some point in the year.
Finalist: Monty Williams
The popular pick for this honor and the Coach’s Association’s winner, Monty Williams led the 2021championship runner-ups to the best record in the NBA.
Finalist: Chris Finch
The Timberwolves had the highest increase in wins from last season to this season of any team. Coach Finch led a team that ranked first in the league in PPG and had a solid defense as well.
2021-22 NBA Coach of the Year- Monty Williams
Sixth Man of the Year
Honorable Mentions- Tyus Jones, Kelly Oubre Jr., Luke Kennard
Finalist: Kevin Love
Kevin Love spent the last couple of seasons sidelined with injury or not giving full effort on the court. This year he rejuvenated himself, inspired by the talented youth around him. He provided valuable minutes off the bench for the overperforming Cavs with his shooting, rebounding, and charge-taking ability.
Finalist: Cameron Johnson
When Johnson was picked in the lottery in 2019 many people questioned the selection, as he was 23 years old which is atypical for a rookie. That criticism is in the past now, as he just had a massive year. Johnson was consistent off the pine all year long for the league’s best team and deserves a ton of love in the 6MOY voting.
Finalist: Tyler Herro
Herro is the clear pick for this award. He was the leading scorer for the best team in the East. He did so while playing starters minutes, but he is eligible for 6MOY and he is the winner.
2021-22 NBA Sixth Man of the Year- Tyler Herro
Most Improved Player
Honorable Mentions- Darius Garland, Tyrese Maxey, Anfernee Simons, Miles Bridges, Tyrese Haliburton, Tyler Herro, Kyle Kuzma, Desmond Bane
Finalist: Jordan Poole
A season ago, Jordan Poole was in the G-League. Now he’s the second scoring option on a team with All-Stars Andrew Wiggins and Klay Thompson, and he kept the Warriors afloat when Steph missed time. The 2021-22 season was a Poole party and it was a blast.
Finalist: Dejounte Murray
There is a lot I could say here, but I’ll keep it short. What an incredible year for Dejounte Murray. He ascended to All-Star status, cemented himself as a top two-way guard in the game, led the league in steals, and became the only player in NBA history to average 20 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds, and 2 steals in a season all while flying under the radar of casual fans. If that’s not MIP worthy, I don’t know what is.
Finalist: Ja Morant
Ja has been very good throughout his young career. He’s taken the Grizzlies to the play-in and the playoffs and dominated highlight reels. However this season he was incredible, becoming a top fifteen player and leading Memphis to the second seed in the competitive West.
2021-22 Most Improved Player- Dejounte Murray
Defensive Player of the Year
Honorable Mentions- Bam Adebayo, Jaren Jackson Jr., Rudy Gobert
Finalist: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis is a DPOY finalist because he does it all. He can clamp on the perimeter. He’s the league’s best helpside defender. He has multiple game-saving blocks, and he guards the best player with the game on the line.
Finalist: Marcus Smart
Marcus Smart is the heart of the league’s best defense. He gives 110% on that end and guards anybody he needs to. He should be a lock for All-Defensive first team, and he’s got a good shot at DPOY as well.
Finalist: Mikal Bridges
Availability is the best ability, and Bridges appeared in all 82 contests for Phoenix while playing the best defense of any wing in the association. He’s everywhere on D and uses his super long arms to disrupt offenses.
2021-22 NBA Defensive Player of the Year- Giannis Antetokounmpo
Rookie of the Year
Honorable Mentions- Franz Wagner, Herb Jones, Jalen Green
Finalist: Evan Mobley
Mobley stood out to many from the first game of the season because of his elite defense. It’s not often that a rookie is in All-Defensive conversations. He’s a menacing paint presence who can switch on to guards (Anthony Davis-esque). Beyond that, he’s shown offensive flashes of self-creation in the paint and from the mid-range. Overall he was a big part of Cleveland’s overperformance.
Finalist: Scottie Barnes
Scottie is the definition of versatile. Starting for a top-five seed in the East, he played a little bit of (and guarded) all five positions throughout the season. He’s smart and he hustles, and if he can build off the tastes of self-creation he’s given us he’ll be an All-Star in the near future.
Finalist: Cade Cunningham
The number one overall pick delivered. Cade was the engine of Detroit’s offense, exciting Pistons fans with his scoring, passing, and performance in the clutch. It’s not hard to tell why he was the clear top guy in the draft after watching him in his rookie season.
2021-22 NBA Rookie of the Year- Cade Cunningham
Most Valuable Player
Honorable Mentions- Luka Doncic, Devin Booker, Jayson Tatum
Finalist: Joel Embiid
Say what you want about his foul baiting, but this was an incredible regular season for Joel Embiid. The first center to lead the league in scoring since Shaquille O’Neal, Embiid made it impossible to guard him with just one man. I personally don’t use the Ben Simmons fiasco as a reason for Embiid to win like others do, but he doesn’t need narratives. His play speaks for itself.
Finalist: Nikola Jokic
Because Jokic is historically great when it comes to advanced stats, anti-stat people have decided to ignore just how good Jokic is. You don’t need stats to see it. Jokic is the Nuggets. He is incredibly efficient, arguably the best passing center ever, and he’s clutch. He also improved his defense this season. Doing all that while being a slow chubby seven-footer never fails to impress me, and he’ll be in contention for this award for the next decade.
Finalist: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis is the most dominant force in the association. On offense, he needs to be triple-teamed or he’ll get to the rim every time down the floor. On defense, he’ll clamp you up or come out of nowhere to swat your shot. He’s a top-three offensive and defensive player, and the best player in the world.
2021-22 NBA Most Valuable Player- Giannis Antetokounmpo (if you have any of those three guys though I can’t argue with you.)
Bench Mob Player of the Year
Honorable Mentions- Jose Alvarado, Gary Payton II, Gabe Vincent
Finalist: Oshae Brissett
After playing well at the end of the 2020-21 season, it was surprising when Oshae Brissett was getting DNPs to start this year. That changed after the trade deadline when he flourished in a bigger role on his way to winning a league-leading seven Bench Mob Player of the Day honors. He wrapped up the season in a fantastic fashion, putting up a highly efficient 18 PPG in the month of April, and he’s a finalist for the Bench Mob Blog Bench Mob Player of the Year award.
Finalist: Stanley Johnson
Stanley Johnson didn’t start the season on an NBA roster. He earned his first opportunity on a hardship deal with the Bulls, but an injury prevented him from getting any playing time. A few weeks later he signed another ten-day, this time with the Lakers, and he instantly made an impact. In his first game in the City of Angels on Christmas day, he played excellent defense on James Harden and solidified himself as a rotation player. He brought grit, hustle, and energy all season while picking up six BM POTDs, and embodies a Bench Mob player.
Finalist: Herb Jones
When Herb was drafted, I had never heard of him. Now, he’s one of my ten to fifteen favorite players. Why? Because he’s a second-round pick in his rookie season doing something at an all-league level. I’m sure you’ve heard this so many times by now but Herb is nothing short of sensational on defense. He’s made a winning impact for the Pelicans every game he’s played and won six BM POTDs because of it. Herbert Jones is the first-ever Bench Mob Player of the Year.
2021-22 NBA Bench Mob Player of the Year- Herb Jones
I understand that the NBA is allowing Jokic and Embiid to be selected as a forward so they can both make the first team, but I don’t want to bend positions. If All-NBA teams are going to be positioned then I’m going to nominate players at their actual positions.
All-NBA First Team
G- Luka Doncic
G- Devin Booker
F- Jayson Tatum
F- Giannis Antetokounmpo
C- Nikola Jokic
All-NBA Second Team
G- Ja Morant
G- Trae Young
F- Kevin Durant
F- DeMar DeRozan
C- Joel Embiid
All-NBA Third Team
G- Stephen Curry
G- Chris Paul
F- LeBron James
F- Pascal Siakam
C- Karl-Anthony Towns
The same positioning philosophy applies here. I want to give a quick shoutout to Draymond Green- he’s one of the best defenders of the last decade, but there were so many deserving forwards and due to his 46 games played I had to leave him off in favor of guys who were more available.
All-Defensive First Team
G- Marcus Smart
G- Dejounte Murray
F- Mikal Bridges
F- Giannis Antetokounmpo
C- Bam Adebayo
All-Defensive Second Team
G- Jrue Holiday
G- Derrick White
F- Herb Jones
F- Jaren Jackson Jr.
C- Rudy Gobert
What a crazy talented rookie class this is. Multiple guys on the second team would make first team in any other year, including Josh Giddey who would have made it had he been healthy to end the year.
All-Rookie First Team
All-Rookie Second Team
There are so many Bench Mob guys who I’d love to mention here. 49 different players won 2+ BM POTD awards this season. These are the 15 guys I’ve picked to represent the Bench Mob this season.
All-Bench-Mob First Team
Gary Payton II
All-Bench-Mob Second Team
Duane Washington Jr.
All-Bench-Mob Third Team
So those are my official 2021-22 NBA awards! Let me know what you agree and disagree with, I’m always down for a hoops discussion on my Twitter account @thebenchmobblog. Thanks for reading, and see you next time!