Posted on June 27, 2017, by Travis Pulver
The NFL has made a big show out of its yearly awards for a while now. For the most part, it has been well-received. So, when the NBA announced that it would be doing the same this year, the fans didn’t think anything of it. If the NFL can do it, why not the NBA?
In theory, it was a very good idea, but the NBA did one thing incredibly wrong. For some stupid reason, they scheduled the show after the Finals—and season—were completely over.
Yeah, we wanted to know who won what still. But with the NBA Finals over, the Golden State Warriors crowned champs, and the mess created by the victory parade cleaned up, the awards were a little anti-climactic.
The postseason doesn’t count towards any of the awards. So, there is no reason all the votes can’t be cast and tabulated before the first round of the playoffs is over. Why not have the show before the Finals begin?
Anyway…there really weren’t any surprises with who won what:
Most Valuable Player: Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
There wasn’t a bad selection among the finalists. In any other year, James Harden (753 points; 22 first-place votes) would have easily been an excellent choice. Kawhi Leonard (500 points; nine first-place votes) didn’t have the stats of Harden or Westbrook, but he is arguably the best two-way player in the league.
But when it came down to it, Westbrook (888 points; 69 first-place votes) and his triple-double record couldn’t be denied.
Defensive Player of the Year: Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
Green (434 points; 73 first-place votes) had an excellent year, as did Rudy Gobert (182 points; 11 first-place votes) and Kawhi Leonard (269 points; 16 first-place votes). But he likely benefited from the fact that Leonard had one for the last two years. It was time for someone new.
Rookie of the Year: Malcolm Brogdon, Milwaukee Bucks
This selection was as close to a no-brainer as it gets—or at least it should have been. Yes, Joel Embiid (177 points; 23 first place votes) was tremendous when he played, but he only played in 31 games. As for the other finalists, Dario Saric (266 points; 13 first-place votes) — does anyone outside of Philadelphia and Croatia know who he is? Brogdon (414 points; 64 first-place votes) was the best choice of the three.
Sixth Man of the Year: Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets
This one was the closest vote and understandably so. Eric Gordon’s (358 points; 46 first-place votes) three-point shooting off the bench was vital to the success the Houston Rockets had this season. Andre Iguodala (326 points; 43 first-place votes) is not the scoring threat Gordon was, but his defense is much better. Gordon’s teammate, Lou Williams, was a distant third (70 points; five first-place votes).
Most Improved Player: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Antetokounmpo (428 points; 80 first-place votes) was a human highlight reel this season which probably helped him get so many first-place votes. But he also became the first player to finish the season ranked in the top 20 of the five major categories (points, assists, rebounds, blocks, steals). So, the choice was easy.
Nikola Jokic (161 points; 14 first-place votes) didn’t have a chance, and neither did Rudy Gobert (113 points; 1 first-place vote).
Coach of the Year: Mike D’Antoni, Houston Rockets
If Gregg Popovich (115 points; eight first-place votes) were to win this year, he would deserve to win every year. He is the best coach in the NBA, but this year he didn’t do anything spectacular or different than he does any year. D’Antoni (400 points; 68 first-place votes) did a great job turning the Rockets into a legitimate contender.
However, Erik Spoelstra (153 points; nine first-place votes) deserved a lot more credit for the job he did with the Miami Heat this season. To take a team that was on the way to earning a lottery pick and nearly turning it into a playoff team was impressive.
A complete list of award winners and the All-NBA, All-Defensive and All-Rookie teams can be found here.