- Will James Harden win his first MVP award after finishing in the top five three other times?
- Will voters overlook Rudy Gobert’s shortened season and give him his second Defensive Player of the Year award?
- Will Dwane Casey be vindicated by being named Coach of the Year?
Dwane Casey’s job search just got a little easier. The embattled coach was named a finalist for the NBA Coach of the Year award on Wednesday evening just days after being relieved of his duties in Toronto. A win would help validate his years of hard work and may just lead to a job offer from one of the many NBA franchises still searching for a new coach.
Casey wasn’t the only NBA personality who received shout-out on Wednesday. The league also announced the finalists for its MVP award, Rookie of the Year award, Defensive Player of the Year award, Sixth Man of the Year award, and Most Improved Player award. The awards will be voted on by a committee of 100 media members and the results will be revealed on June 25th during a televised broadcast.
We’ve taken a close look at all of the deserving candidates and have set the odds on who will win each coveted trophy.
Odds to Win NBA MVP
|James Harden (Rockets)||11-9|
|LeBron James (Cavaliers)||13-7|
|Anthony Davis (Pelicans)||4-1|
The difficulty with determining the league’s most valuable player is that everyone seems to have a different set of criteria. Some voters believe it should go to the best player in the league, while others feel it should go to the player who is most instrumental to his team’s success. The one thing that virtually everyone agrees upon is that the winner must come from an elite team, and that’s what makes Harden the favorite to win his first MVP in 2018.
The Beard admittedly had fewer rebounds, assists, blocks, and triple-doubles than LeBron, but he led his team to 15 more wins and the top seed in the ultra competitive Western Conference. He also averaged 2.9 more points per game and posted a vastly superior +7.3 point differential.
Harden came tantalizingly close to winning his first MVP award last season and won’t be denied in 2018.
Odds to Win NBA Rookie of the Year
|Ben Simmons (76ers)||3-7|
|Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)||3-1|
|Jayson Tatum (Celtics)||19-1|
Donovan Mitchell may not believe Ben Simmons is a bona fide rookie, but he checks all of our boxes.
Donovan Mitchell uses the dictionary definition of a rookie to respond to Ben Simmons ? pic.twitter.com/NhL9730xFF
— Sporting News (@sportingnews) April 10, 2018
The 21-year-old Aussie led all rookies in rebounds (8.2), assists (8.1), steals (1.7), and minutes played (2732), and finished third in scoring (15.8). He also became just the second rookie in NBA history to record eight triple-doubles, and the third to have more than 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, and 500 assists in his first season in the league.
Simmons became just the second rookie in NBA history to record eight triple-doubles, and the third to have more than 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, and 500 assists in his first season in the league.
Sure, Simmons may not have filled the hoop quite as proficiently as Mitchell, but he did everything else better while also leading his team to a remarkable 24-win turnaround from the previous season.
Mitchell will take home plenty of awards in the future, but this trophy belongs to Simmons.
Odds to Win NBA Defensive Player of the Year
|Anthony Davis (Pelicans)||1-2|
|Rudy Gobert (Jazz)||3-1|
|Joel Embiid (76ers)||10-1|
In most years Rudy Gobert would be the natural choice for Defensive Player of the Year, but this isn’t most years. The Stifle Tower played in only 56 games due to a bone bruise in his right knee and dealt with nagging injuries throughout the season. He was still spectacular when he was healthy, but it’s unlikely voters will reward a player with so few reps.
The award instead will go to Anthony Davis, who elevated his game to a new level following a season-ending injury to fellow pivot DeMarcus Cousins. Boogie’s absence put the onus on David to protect the paint and he responded by averaging 11.1 rebounds and 2.6 swats per game and finished third in the league in defensive win share while also carrying the Pelicans on offense.
Davis’ unique two-way ability was especially evident in February when he averaged 35 points, 13 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game while leading New Orleans on a seven-game winning streak. He won’t win MVP this year, but Defensive Player of the Year would be a damn fine consolation prize.
Odds to Win NBA Sixth Man of the Year
|Lou Williams (Clippers)||2-3|
|Eric Gordon (Rockets)||7-3|
|Fred VanVleet (Raptors)||9-1|
Lou Williams may have started most games on the bench in 2017-18, but make no mistake about it, he was usually the best player on the court as soon as he checked in. The 31-year-old gunner established career highs in points, assists, and minutes in his 13th season and nearly led the Clippers into the playoffs despite a litany of injuries and wholesale roster changes.
Williams’ most memorable moment came on January 10th when he torched the Warriors for 50 points on 16-27 shooting from the floor and 8-16 from beyond the arc. His dazzling display led the Clippers to a shocking 19-point victory on the road and earned Sweet Lou Western Conference Player of the Week honors.
Odds to Win NBA Most Improved Player
|Victor Oladipo (Pacers)||1-1|
|Spencer Dinwiddie (Nets)||3-2|
|Clint Capela (Rockets)||9-1|
The Most Improved Player award generally goes to an emerging player rather than an established star, but it’s impossible to overlook the immense strides Oladipo took in 2017-18. The fleet-footed guard increased his scoring average by 7.2 points per game and lead the league in steals during his first season in Indiana.
Oladipo increased his scoring average by 7.2 points per game and lead the league in steals during his first season in Indiana.
His pedal-to-the metal approach transformed the Pacers into one of the NBA’s fastest teams and led to six more wins and a return to the playoffs. It was an impressive turn of events for a team many pundits had written off in the preseason, and it will almost certainly earn Oladipo some much deserved hardware.
Odds to Win NBA Coach of the Year
|Dwane Casey (Raptors)||11-9|
|Brad Stevens (Celtics)||3-2|
|Quin Snyder (Jazz)||17-3|
Bettors got a sneak peek into how balloting for this award may play out on Monday when Dwane Casey won the Michael H. Goldberg NBCA Coach of the Year Award. The longtime Raptors coach was a popular choice after dramatically revamping Toronto’s offense and leading the team to a franchise record 59-wins and the top seed in the East.
Casey was later fired after being thoroughly outcoached in the playoffs, but his postseason failures shouldn’t impact his odds of winning this award.
Learn how to get in on the action by reading our guide on NBA Basketball Awards: Expert Techniques for Sports Bettors.