- Only games to count towards end-of-season awards were before COVID-19 shutdown
- Giannis Antetokounmpo could be third player all-time to win both MVP and DPOY in same season
- Check below to see our picks for the NBA’s end of year awards
The NBA has only just gotten into the bubble, and already there’s a pin to burst some of the hype.
The NBA’s annual performance awards (MVP, Rookie of Year, Sixth Man, Defensive Player, Coach of Year, etc.) will be based upon regular season through March 11, when the season suspended, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 17, 2020
What little intrigue was left in the race for NBA end-of-year hardware — not that hardware — is almost all but gone. Using roughly the usual three quarter-pole mark of regular season games because of play suspended by COVID-19, it seems that the performance awards are as close to etched in stone was possible.
Let’s run through the list and see if we can make a case for any underdog to win a primo award. We start with one that would have been wildly intriguing, had these restart games counted for something.
2020 NBA MVP Odds
|Damian Lillard||Trail Blazers||+150000|
Odds taken on July 17
Analysis: Run it back to March, and LeBron James had just finished off one of the more impressive weekends of hoops in the NBA this season, as his Lakers toppled both the league-leading Bucks and rival Clippers in back-to-back wins. Just a few days after that, the season was halted.
lebron vs giannis this year:
*giannis also has a higher BPM,OBPM,DBPM,VORP and more wins*
giannis is 100% MVP. pic.twitter.com/25RuV6rn5d
— αмуα✨ (@ChefWRLD) June 4, 2020
Even if LeBron could continue to build on the resume in Orlando, he’s still a ways back of Giannis Antetokounmpo, who has to be considered an MVP lock, a second straight for him. Giannis was a terror this year, putting up a tick below 30 points, 14 boards and six dimes a night on a crisp 54.7% field goal percentage — all in a tidy 31 minutes a game.
Unbelievable. 70 members of the NBA media were asked for a fresh vote on who the MVP was: Lebron, or Giannis.
Look at the results pic.twitter.com/X1MJsT6hU4
— IKE Bucks (@IKE_Bucks) March 23, 2020
His workload was lighter because Milwaukee was burying the opposition, with a plus-minus of 11.3, where no other team even cracked 8.0.
More than anything else, the eye test showed a guy balling out every minute on the floor and it was devastating. The dude is only just 25. And he’s not done, yet.
The pick: Antetokounmpo (-5000)
2020 Defensive Player of the Year Odds
Analysis: Let’s talk rarified air: there are only four players who have ever won the NBA DPOY and MVP award in their careers. The list is KG, David Robinson, Jordan and Olajuwon. Same season? That’s Jordan and Dream, and that’s it. Giannis has a legit shot to make it three, as he’s an overwhelming favorite in this category as well.
Giannis Antetokounmpo should be DPOY. Here is why:#1st in defensive rating#1st in defensive win shares (it's not even close)#2nd in defensive rebounding %#3rd in defensive rpm#2nd in loose balls recovered
Bucks have the leagues best defense. Giannis for MVP and DPOY. pic.twitter.com/2vDdQiBJPD
— Josh J. (@JoshJBullsHoops) April 10, 2020
Despite all the advanced stats we have to quantify him as the top defender, including ranking first overall in defensive win shares, plus-minus and defensive rating, the handy eye test again helps us see how imposing his 7-foot-3 wingspan is on the defensive end of the court. He’s nimble enough to switch down to guards or body up bigs, while always maintaining a shot-blocking presence in the paint. He’s the driving force behind Milwaukee’s top defensive rating of 101.6.
Anthony Davis would currently receive my vote for Defensive Player of the Year. Long way to go, but he's playing the best defense of his life now with the Lakers. pic.twitter.com/dufUHWrQmb
— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) December 4, 2019
But this is one of the categories where there could be an upset. Anthony Davis’ advanced stats are in the same ballpark as Antetokounmpo, and you could make the argument that his presence has propped the Lakers up from the defensive doormats they were a year ago. He’s also putting up better than two blocks and 1.5 steals per game, which is mighty impressive.
I think the sure bet here is voter fatigue will likely ensure we won’t see a Rudy Gobert three-peat. And while I won’t blame you for taking a flier on AD’s value, this is Giannis’ time.
The pick: Antetokounmpo (-500)
2020 NBA Most Improved Player Odds
Analysis: Miami has been able to retool on the fly in large part to Bam Adebayo leveling up this year. He’s averaging better than 16 points per game this year — a jump of more than seven points per game — while also chipping in 10.5 rebounds per contest. But what really shot the big man into the all-star realm was his ability to do the dirty work and act as a facilitator. He’s averaging 5.1 assists this year as well, and is as comfortable as initiating offense and he is on the business end of an alley-oop.
Still, there’s some serious contenders just below Bam. Brandon Ingram finally showcased his prodigious potential as the leading man for the Pelicans while they waited for Zion Williamson to recover from his injuries, and it resulted in an all-star season. He’s averaging 24.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists while drilling threes at a 38.7% clip.
And somehow, Luka Doncic is only the third favorite. Perhaps it’s because he’s already the reigning rookie of the year, but how are we sleeping on 28.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 8.7 assists per contest? The dude is in triple-double range every night. Those are all-NBA team-level figures. It’s probably Bam, but Luka is the best value bet you’re going to find.
The pick: Doncic (+550)
2020 NBA Rookie of the Year Odds
Analysis: A vote for Zion is blatant disrespect for Ja Morant, who has put together a really splendid year, rained dunk bombs on a few chaps (see Baynes, Aaron), and has the Grizzlies in contention for a playoff spot in the West. With Williamson out, it’s really been Ja’s award to lose. He’s averaging 17.6 points and 6.9 assists a game while shooting 49.1% from the field.
What’s your favorite type of @JaMorant highlight?
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) January 20, 2020
I will stop to watch any Zion reels that come across any of my feeds, and in time he will undoubtedly be the best player in his draft class and the future face of the NBA. But for this debate, the number is 19 — as in, his games played this season. Even in a shortened year, and even if the bubble games counted, that’s not enough work to earn any award.
The pick: Morant (-10000)
2020 Sixth Man of the Year Odds
Analysis: Hard to imagine the Thunder lost Russell Westbrook and Paul George in the same summer and held the fifth best record in the NBA when things shut down. Dennis Schroder is one of the key cogs to that machine, and is part of a funky and effective point guard trio to close out games with Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. He’s averaging 19 points a game while adding a reliable 38.1% stroke from downtown.
This move from Dennis Schroder is filthy😷pic.twitter.com/EYbIWs1evE
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) January 26, 2020
Perennial favourite Lou Williams is again in the running, and teammate Montrezl Harrell is also putting up a career-best 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds on 58% shooting from the field, but it seems likely that they take votes away from each other.
Derrick Rose would be a darkhorse pick but he’s up against teams that have winning programs, and he’s just not there.
The pick: Schroder (-335)
Let's have fun and keep it civil.