Way Too Early Award Predictions for the Upcoming NBA Season

As we all know, the NBA gives out awards at the end of every season to recognize the best players in specific categories: the best rookie, the best defensive player, the best coach, the player that has improved the most, and the best player overall. This year, Giannis won MVP, Siakam won Most Improved, Mike Budenholzer won Coach of the Year, Luka Doncic won Rookie of the Year, Lou Williams won 6th Man of the Year, and Rudy Gobert came away with the Defensive Player of the Year. 

In this article, even though it’s still before the start of the regular season, I will be predicting the awards for the NBA that will be awarded in 2020. 

Rookie of the Year

Finalists: RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson, Coby White

Winner: RJ Barrett

I know, everyone expected to see Zion’s name here, but you have to think about the situation both players are in. Zion was drafted to the Pelicans, who recently acquired players such as Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, JJ Redick, and more. He will also be playing with rookies Nickiel Alexander-Walker and Jaxson Hayes. The only way I can see Zion winning the Rookie of the Year award is if he over-performs, or if the Pelicans over-perform. 

Barrett, on the other hand, is stuck in Power Forward city. The Knicks are in a terrible spot right now, and Barrett is the clear best player. He won’t improve the team, but he will at least be a bright spot in New York.

Now, there is a snub here, as I did not put Ja Morant as a finalist. The simple answer is that Morant will not be the best player on his team, and his presence might improve his team a little bit, but not as much as Coby White will improve the Bulls this season. 

Coach of the Year

Finalists: Doc Rivers, Frank Vogel, Brent Brown

Winner: Doc Rivers

You know, I don’t get this award. I like that the NBA tries to appreciate all the work that the coaches do, but it oftentimes goes to the coach that simply gets the most wins. Which means that it will go to the coach that has the best group of players to coach. This means teams like the Mavericks, the Cavs, or the Heat won’t have a finalist because they won’t be incredibly high in the standings, even if they do have great coaches. That being said, I chose Doc Rivers because I think that the Clippers are going to have the best record in the NBA this year if everybody stays healthy.

Doc Rivers has consistently been a good coach for a long time. Even though now he has to deal with coaching the man who cheated on his daughter, he will find a way to put that behind him. I believe that the Clippers have the potential to be a 60-win team this year and that they can at least make it to the Western Conference Finals, if not the NBA Finals. 

Most Improved Player

Finalists: DeMarcus Cousins, Gordon Hayward, Terry Rozier

Winner: DeMarcus Cousins 

DeMarcus Cousins, if he can stay healthy for the entire year, is going to come back and be a really good either starting or backup center for the Lakers. LA will probably ease him back into basketball activities for right now, and Boogie will try to get back to the dominant player that he was before he ruptured his Achilles back in 2017. I’m gonna predict it now, so remember this next sentence: DeMarcus Cousins is going to average a double-double with at least 15 points per game this season. 

The reason that you see Gordon Hayward in here is that it was obvious to anybody that watched a Celtics game last year that Gordon Hayward was not himself last year. He was recovering from an injury that sidelined him for an entire year, and I think that he comes back this season to average at least 18 a game with 6 rebounds and 4 assists.

Rozier also is going to be seeing a lot of playing team, as he will now be the starting point guard for the Charlotte Hornets. He is going to want to prove that he deserves that contract, and he’s going to have a really solid year. He won’t nearly be an all-star, but I believe he has it in him to average 14 a game with 7-8 assists and 1.5 steals a game. 

Defensive Player of the Year

Finalists: Rudy Gobert, Anthony Davis, Myles Turner

Winner: Rudy Gobert

Rudy Gobert is the best defender in the NBA, and I don’t think that’s even in question. He has won this award the past 2 years, and I believe he’s going to do it again.

Anthony Davis is going to be a finalist because, when he cares, you can argue that he’s as good, if not better, than Rudy at the defensive end. I just don’t think that he’s going to be that focused on defense every night. While Gobert, on the other hand, is at that level every night. 

Another player that is consistently on that level every night is Myles Turner. Turner led the league in blocks this season and, in my opinion, was a major snub in the finalists for DPOY this year as well. If it weren’t for Gobert, I think that Turner would be considered by some to be the best defender in the league. He’s THAT good. And here’s another prediction in a prediction article: Myles Turner will win the DPOY at least twice in his career. 2020 just won’t be his year, though. 

6th Man of the Year

Finalists: Lou Williams, Avery Bradley, JJ Redick 

Winner: JJ Redick

JJ Redick is in a position that he has not been in for a long time, and that is the position of being on the bench to start the game for the Pelicans. He will be starting behind Holiday and Ball for a guard spot, so he will almost definitely be their 6th man this season. I think that he will have around the same level of production as he did in Philadelphia, though. About 17 points a game with a deadly catch and shoot game, also being able to get you around 5 rebounds and 3 assists a game. I believe that JJ Redick has a serious shot to win this award this year.

I know that not putting Lou Williams as the winner seems blasphemous, but there is such a thing as voter fatigue unless there is a clear-cut winner such as Rudy Gobert for DPOY. He will still be a very solid 6th man, but I just don’t think that it’s going to happen again this year. 

Most Valuable Player

Finalists: LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden

Winner: James Harden

James Harden is a natural scorer, and now he has another scorer to pass the ball to. I believe that James is still going to average around 27 points a game, but will also have a double-double average with points and assists this season as he has another natural scorer on his team in Russell Westbrook. Now I know that probably won’t be enough to win MVP just with the stats alone. But I do believe that he will be leading the Rockets to at least a Finals appearance, if not an NBA title (yes I know, another prediction). 

LeBron is going to look like Miami Heat LeBron after the amount of rest he’s had during the offseason this year. I just think that the championship is going to be too much to overlook when it comes to picking Harden. 

Giannis is just going to be Giannis again this year. He’s going to be the most dominant player in the entire NBA this season, but will fall short in the playoffs again, and will be out-shined by Harden’s statistics and style of play. 

So there we have it. I had a lot of bold predictions in this article, and here are the boldest that I would just like to point out just in case I’m right so I can have bragging rights:

  1. DeMarcus Cousins will win Most Improved Player by averaging a double-double with points and rebounds
  2. Gordon Hayward will average 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists this upcoming season
  3. James Harden will average 27 points and 10 assists
  4. The Rockets will be your 2020 NBA Champions
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