The Finals ended two weeks ago. The draft has come and gone. But the NBA’s major awards still await in the wings — in this case, await backstage. For the first time, the NBA will televise its major awards, 9 p.m. Monday on TNT.
So Most Valuable Player, Sixth Man of the Year, Most Improved Player, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Coach of the Year will be revealed at Basketball City in Manhattan during the show hosted by Drake.
The NBA revealed three finalists for each award. They represent the top three vote-getters in the balloting by a 100-member panel. Voting was conducted before the playoffs. (Spoiler alert: The best player on the planet, LeBron James, won’t win anything.)
There are six other awards determined by online fan voting. They include:
Dunk of the Year — Doesn’t matter, nothing tops Vince Carter over Frederic Weis in the 2000 Olympics.
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Best Style — Don’t ask me. I believe formal attire consists of jeans without holes.
Best Block — One finalist is Kristaps Porzingis. The Knicks can replay his one-handed block and snatch lots if they have a going-away bash for him.
There are also awards for Assist of the Year, Game Winner of the Year, Performance of the Year. Delay of Game Warning of the Year got snubbed. Here’s a look at the majors:
Finalists: James Harden, Houston; Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio; Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City.
Who Will Win: Harden.
Who Should Win: Westbrook.
Harden is the choice of the analytic kids. He had a great year (29.1 points, league-leading 11.2 assists) for a 55-win team. What Westbrook did for the 47-win Thunder was historic in becoming only the second player, with Oscar Robertson, to average a triple-double (31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, 10.4 assists). Ironically, it could hurt as some saw it as “me, me, me.” Leonard, the best player on a 61-win Spurs team, averaged a personal best 25.5 points.
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Finalists: Eric Gordon, Houston; Andre Iguodala, Golden State; Lou Williams, Houston.
Who Will Win: Gordon
Who Should Win: Iguodala
Gordon (16.2 points) was the best instant-offense guy off anybody’s bench. Williams started with the Lakers, moved to Houston where he was actually the seventh man. And they don’t give out Seventh Man awards. Iguodala will be hurt with the stat geeks by his 7.6 points but he was the Swiss Army Knife off the Warriors bench, doing everything.
Finalists: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee; Rudy Gobert, Utah; Nikola Jokic, Denver.
Who Will Win: Antetokounmpo
Who Should Win: Antetokounmpo
Everybody wants a “Greek Freak” after Antetokounmpo’s breakout season (22.9 points, 8.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists). We still like Gobert’s “The Stifle Tower” for best nickname after the Jazz center led the league in blocks. Jokic was an under-the-radar center who impressed with passing and still averaged a near double-double (16.7 points, 9.8 rebounds).
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Finalists: Malcolm Brogdon, Milwaukee; Joel Embiid, Philadelphia; Dario Saric, Philadelphia.
Who Will Win: Saric
Who Should Win: Brogdon
Saric (12.8 points, 6.3 rebounds) played all year. Embiid had the impressive numbers (20.2 points), but only played 31 games. Brogdon averaged 10.2 points playing the demanding point-guard position for a playoff team.
Finalists: Rudy Gobert, Utah; Draymond Green, Golden State; Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio.
Who Will Win: Green
Who Should Win: Leonard
All three candidates are well-deserving. Green is the most versatile, can guard all five positions and led the league in steals. Gobert is the classic rim protector who led the league in blocks. Leonard is the best on-ball defender in the league. Factor in two elements: Leonard has won two years running and voters may want change and they may fear Green will kick them in the groin if they don’t pick him.
Finalists: Mike D’Antoni, Houston; Gregg Popovich, San Antonio; Erik Spoelstra, Miami.
Who Will Win: D’Antoni
Who Should Win: D’Antoni
This is like when Michael Jordan played. He was the MVP every year but others won. Popovich is the league’s best coach. Period. But D’Antoni did a remarkable regular-season job with the Rockets, leading them to 55 wins with a record number of 3s. Spoelstra did a fabulous job but Miami fell short of the playoffs.