(N)othing (B)ut F(A)cts Award Show


Matson Montilla

Many players and teams are deserving to make a push for awards and winning the finals, but only few will have the chance to (Photo courtesy of Matson Montilla).

With the NBA (National Basketball Association) season underway, I always enjoy predicting who will win the end of the season awards. Thus, it lead me to write this article for everyone to read about my award picks, and so when I predict them all correctly. It will be written in ink. Now let’s get down to it.

The first award that is up for grabs is the Rookie of the Year Award. I believe that the three players that will be in discussion over who will win are Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, and Tyler Herro.

Most people seem to believe that the clear-cut favorite to win this award is Zion Williamson, who was the first overall pick by the New Orleans Pelicans. He is a phenomenal player and put up great numbers in college. He will be an extremely hard player to cover since he can jump out of the stadium, and was be the second strongest player (weighs 284 lbs) when he entered the league. He will do well, but the issue with him is his health. Yes, his weight helps, but he weighs too much for his own good. His knees won’t be able to handle his weight from the constant jumping causing him to get hurt. It has already occurred which lead to him missing the first six to eight weeks of the season

Next up is Ja Morant from the Memphis Grizzlies. He will be the clear-cut starting point guard, and he will command the court. He is also one of the best players on the team. The only other player on that team who is top 100 would be Justin Jackson, but he’s the power forward, meaning he will most likely score inside due to passes from Ja Morant. Morant is a raw point guard with tons of skills who can run the court and can score at will whether it’s inside or from three.

Tyler Herro may not be considered a contender by many people since he was the 13th pick in the draft, and he doesn’t have a ton of hype. I believe that he will turn a lot of heads because he will be the Heat’s main three-point shooter causing him to get a lot of playing time. If he is able to become a more effective passer, he will definitely have a chance to be the second-best player for the Heat behind Jimmy Butler.

Ja Morant will win the award while Zion Williamson will come in second, and Tyler Herro will finish third.

The next award that will be given out is the Sixth Man of the Year Award. This award is usually given to the best player who came off the bench for their respective team. I believe that some early season finalists for this award are Lou Williams, Goran Dragic, and Jerami Grant.

The first player I mentioned was Lou Williams; he deserves to be mentioned because he is the sixth man of all sixth men. He has won the award three times, including the two most recent. He has consistently put up great numbers and always meshes well with his supporting cast whether it’s with the bench or starters. He also has a great coach, Doc Rivers, who allows him to elevate his game to maximum potential. I believe that he’ll be a great player, but I don’t think he will win since he is now 33 years old and the Clippers are loaded with talent including superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, who will take away his amount of playing time.

The next player to keep an eye on would be Jerami Grant who plays for the Denver Nuggets. He isn’t considered a top-caliber sixth man according to most people, but I believe that he will make a lot of noise. Last year, he was the starting power forward on the Oklahoma Thunder, but he was traded to the Denver Nuggets this offseason. When you look at the Nuggets, they have a great center and guards who know how to pass very well. This will allow him to get the ball when he is on the court and score at will. He is also a great rebounder despite the numbers indicating only five rebounds.

The last player is Goran Dragic of the Miami Heat. Goran was the starting point guard last season but is now coming off the bench behind Kendrick Nunn. Goran was an All-Star selection two seasons ago and has shown that he is a very talented player. Goran knows the system well and has a great group of players around to allow him to run the court and make a great contribution to the team.

Goran will win this award while Grant will be second, and Williams will, shockingly, finish third.

The next award is the Most Improved Award. This award is given to the player who has made the biggest positive jump in his play from the year before. I believe that the three finalists for this award should be Terry Rozier, Caris LeVert, and Gordon Hayward. All of these players have exceptional talent and were once considered rising stars in this league.

The first player I mentioned was Terry Rozier. Terry Rozier was a part of the sign and trade between the Boston Celtics and Charlotte Hornets this offseason where long-time Hornets player, Kemba Walker, was dealt to Boston. Most fans and analysts believed that the Hornets would suffer greatly and be a bottom-five team, but Terry’s play has helped the Hornets elevate their play this season. He had a breakout year a few years ago when their starting point guard Kyrie Irving was injured. Since then he hasn’t had much time to develop, but on his new team, he is the starting point guard and has ample opportunities to improve. Thus, he has a chance of winning this award.

The next player to discuss is Caris Lavert. Last season he was on the verge of a breakout season, but then he got injured causing him to miss the majority of the year. He is now back and healthy. Lavert has superstar point guard Kyrie Irving playing alongside him, who will command most of the defense to watch him which will allow Lavert to have better and easier opportunities to score and rebound. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that his statistical improvement will show how much he has truly grown as a player, thus making him finish as a runner up.

The last player I brought up was Gordon Hayward. At one point in his career, he was a top 20 player who got signed to a big contract with the Boston Celtics and was regarded as a game-changing player. Two years ago, in his first game with the Celtics, he suffered a leg injury and missed the whole year. Last season, he was a below-average bench player as he made his return. This year, with a year of full health, practice, and preparation, I believe he will return to star level. He gets to play under a great head coach with a lot of young talent who will look to him to lead them to victory.

I believe Hayward will win this award with Rozier finishing second and Lavert in third.

After that, the next award is the Defensive Player of the Year Award. The players that I believe should be the finalist are Rudy Gobert, Kawhi Leonard, and Patrick Beverly. The first two have both previously won the award, but Beverly possesses the tenacity to make a move for it.

Rudy Gobert has won the award in the two most recent back-to-back years. His large size makes him a great shot-blocking man and makes it difficult for anyone to score inside. Gobert usually leads the league in blocks and makes opponents change their game plan consistently.

The next player to keep an eye on is Kawhi Leonard, who has won the award multiple times as well. He can guard all five positions on the court and has giant hands to help steal the ball. His nickname is even “The Klaw.” He will also be playing with a chip on his shoulder after signing with a new team this offseason.

The last player is Patrick Beverly. He isn’t the fastest, the strongest, the tallest, or a star, but he plays with the most confidence and has a strong competitive edge. He can guard anyone, whether it is LeBron James to Steph Curry. He can get in opponents’ heads and knows how to stop anyone. He plays with heart.

Due to this, I believe that Patrick Beverly will win this award, and Rudy Gobert will be runner up while Leonard will finish third.

The next award is Coach of the Year, and I believe the coaches who should be mentioned for this award are Frank Vogel, Monty Williams, and Brett Brown. Two of the three coaches (Vogel and Williams) have taken over teams who didn’t make the playoffs last year while the other (Brown) is coaching a team that doesn’t have any players who can shoot threes in this evolving NBA. All of them are faced with difficult tasks, but they are all able to turn their teams around.

The first head coach would be Frank Vogel. He previously coached the Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic. He is now the head coach of the Lakers despite being their third choice. Although something like that could make a coach not be as good as they should, he is a veteran head coach and has been in the league for a while. Therefore, he will be able to overcome that issue and manage the egos of the Lakers including Anthony Davis, LeBron James, and Rajan Rondo. I believe that they will be the best team in the league, but the team has so much talent that this will undermine his campaign to win it. What I mean by this is that Vogel will make the turn around of the Lakers look good based on the stats, but he is fortunate to have much better talent than the year before making people not be as amazed over the turn around as they should.

The second coach I mentioned was Monty Williams. Monty Williams is taking over the head coach job of the Phoenix Suns, who were a bottom-six team last year with no direction. Many players love him as he once played in the NBA. He will be able to relate to the players, which is important since he coaches young talent. He will allow young stars like Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton to reach their untapped potential and make the playoffs. He will help the Suns no longer be the laughing stock of the NBA. 

The last head coach in contention is Brett Brown who coaches the Philadelphia 76ers. He led the Sixers to the Eastern Conference Semifinals where they lost on a buzzer-beater to the Raptors in game seven. The reason why I believe he’s worth mentioning is that he can make this team a championship-winning team. They have stars on their team and have been good in years past, but Brett Brown is the make-or-break piece of this team. If he is able to teach a couple of their players how to shoot three-pointers like Ben Simmons and Josh Richardson, the sky’s the limit.

The head coach finalist order, in my opinion, will be 1. Monty Williams, 2. Frank Vogel, and 3. Brett Brown.

The last award is the Most Valuable Player Award. The three finalists are LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Nikola Jokic. They are all superstars of the league and are best at their positions.

LeBron James is back. He missed the playoffs for the first time last season with the Lakers, but now he has great role players around him and another superstar by his side to help take off some of the press defense. He has always been able to score at will and even more so now. He is an exceptional passer and finds the open players on his team while playing lockdown defense and rebounding consistently. Last year was the first time he missed the playoffs in 10 seasons, so he will be playing with a chip on his shoulder to prove the league and fans wrong that he is, as some say, “washed up.”

The next player is Giannis Antetokounmpo, who won the award last season. Although it is uncommon for a player to win back-to-back years, he is an extremely good player, and still, surprisingly, has other areas to improve in allowing him to make the case that he is better this year than last year. He is a top-five player, can lead the Bucks to the finals, and if he unlocks a three-pointer, he has the potential to win.

The last player to keep an eye out for is Denver Nuggets’ star center, Nikola Jokic. He is the most unique of all the players. When you think of a center, you think of a player who can only score inside, rebound, and get a block or two, but with Nikola, he is even more versatile than that. He can guard all positions, has a jump shot, and can pass. He can average a triple-double and lead the young star-studded Nuggets to the finals if he can grow as a leader. If he can become a leader, he will win this award.

I believe that LeBron James will win the award by a landslide while Giannis will come in second and Jokic will finish third.

Lastly, I believe that the Los Angeles Lakers will win the playoffs since they have two top-five players, including LeBron James and Anthony Davis, a great supporting cast of players, a great defensive-minded head coach to combat their biggest weakness, and great amounts of leadership up and down their roster and coaching staff.

Those are the players I believe will win the awards and who will win the Finals. I look forward to seeing how this season goes, and how well my predictions will be when the season ends. As always, thanks for reading.