NBA Preview and Awards Predictions 2019-20

10/22/2019

The NBA is finally back and it couldn't be back at a better time. For the first time in a decade there are no clear favorites for the Finals in either conference which makes predicting the season harder than ever but that won't stop us. We already gave you our Eastern and Western conference previews and on the eve of opening night, we give you our predicted NBA Champions as well as the winner of every individual award. As usual, Ryan's predictions are in Red while Victor's predictions are in Blue.


Most Valuable Player - Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

Runner-up: Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets

While each of the past 4 MVP awards have been given to 4 different players, this season will see the Greek Freak win the award for the second consecutive year. There will be plenty of competition, with James Harden, Nikola Jokic, and Anthony Davis all vying for the award among others. However, if the Bucks are able to once again claim the top regular season record in the league, Giannis should be able to take home the trophy.

Most Valuable Player - Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors

Runner-up: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

We are all guilty of forgetting how dominant Steph Curry was before KD joined the team. With KD and Klay Thompson gone, it's up to Steph Curry to carry the Golden State Warriors to a respectable finish and that means plenty of usage and the perfect MVP storyline. Giannis is a close second but I anticipate the Bucks will greatly reduce his usage in the regular season after seeing how he struggled to convert his regular season dominance into a deep playoff run.


Sixth Man of the Year - Lou Williams, Los Angeles Clippers

Runner-Up: Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors

Williams showed no signs of slowing down his elite bench production last season, and he will once again have plenty of opportunity to score in bunches off the bench for the Clippers again. He won't be tasked with shouldering quite as much of the scoring load, but he'll still have plenty of time to shine. Considering last year's 6th Man of the Year race wasn't even close, Williams should be the odd-on favorite again this season.

Sixth Man of the Year - Lou Williams, Los Angeles Clippers

Runner-Up: J.J. Reddick, New Orleans Pelicans

At this point it no longer makes sense to bet again Lou Williams for sixth man of the year. With PG3 and Leonard sure to take some games off ahead of a playoff push, Lou Williams should once again lead the league in points off the bench while playing for a much improved Clippers team. There is no clear challenger to the crown but J.J. Reddick might be a good choice depending on the starting 5 the Pelicans role out.


Rookie of the Year - Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans

Runner-up: Tyler Herro, Miami Heat

Williamson will miss the first 6-8 weeks of the season. For most rookies, that would be too much time missed for a viable Rookie of the Year bid. However, his elite production in the preseason suggests that his missed games will not be enough to take him from the top of the Rookie of the Year totem pole. There are some interesting rookies this season that should provide sparks for their team, but none of them will be the focal point of their team to the extent of Zion in New Orleans.

Rookie of the Year - Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies

Runner-up: Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans

Believe it or not, the Zion Williamson injury made no changes to my rookie of the year prediction. Ja Morant is my rookie of the year. With each season the NBA becomes more guard friendly and that bodes well for this year's draft class. Ja Morant is a hybrid of Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook, he's got CP3's shooting touch and basketball IQ while combining that with Westbrook's uber athleticism. The NBA has never seen a guard quite like Ja Morant and that means rookie of the year. Zion Williamson should push Morant down the stretch but Morant will have all the touches needed to make an impact.


Defensive Player of the Year - Giannis Antetokounmpo

Runner-up: Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

Antetokounmpo was robbed of this award last season, but he'll make up for that with a defensive performance that's just as impressive as last year's. Between Giannis's versatility and durability, he should be able to just beat out Gobert for the title of best defender.

Defensive Player of the Year - Giannis Antetokounmpo

Runner-up: Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

Antetokounmpo by almost every metric was the defensive player of the year last season but for some reason he did not win the award. This year the narrative is flipped and Giannis wins the award he has long deserved. Joel Embiid will most likely be his biggest challenger for the crown although you can never rule Rudy Gobert out.


Coach of the Year - Mike Malone, Utah Jazz

Runner-up: Doc Rivers, Los Angeles Clippers

In most seasons, Malone's performance as head coach of the Denver Nuggets last year would've been enough to secure this award. However, the Bucks greatly outperformed expectations, leading to Mike Budenholzer rightfully claiming the honor. This season will see Malone get his redemption by leading the Nuggets to the 1st seed in the West.

Coach of the Year - Alvin Gentry, New Orleans Pelicans

Runner-up: Luke Walton, Sacramento Kings

My coach of the year has to be Alvin Gentry of the New Orleans Pelicans. They have an opportunity to make the playoffs with one of the youngest rosters in the NBA and if they do that then it will be because of Gentry. My runner up is Luke Walton, the coach of another franchise looking for a surprising playoff berth.


Most Improved Player - Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies

Runner-up: Miles Bridges, Charlotte Hornets

There aren't any obvious candidates for this award, but I suppose that's kind of the spirit of the honor. JJJ will be the 1st option for a Memphis Grizzlies team lacking in offensive options. That, along with the departures of Grizzlies legends Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, will allow Jackson to reach new heights this upcoming season.

Most Improved Player - Lonzo Ball, New Orleans Pelicans

Runner-up: Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves

This may be more hope than solid logic but Lonzo Ball for MIP. Going into his third season, Ball will finally get an opportunity to shine away from the spotlight. That kind of newfound freedom is the kind that breeds new heights. Lonzo is still an extremely gifted point guard and this season will be his best opportunity to showcase his skill set. My runner up is another surprise in Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins has been disrespected at every opportunity this offseason and that might be enough to push him to maximizing his superstar talents.


NBA Champions - Los Angeles Clippers

Runner-up: Milwaukee Bucks

There are numerous title contenders from both conferences this season, with teams like the Lakers, 76ers, Bucks, and Trail Blazers, among others, all having realistic title aspirations. It's Los Angeles's second-most popular basketball team, however, that will take home the Larry O'Brien trophy. Kawhi Leonard has a legitimate claim as the world's best basketball player, and he has another elite two-way player in Paul George beside him. Add in the team's top-tier depth, with players like Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley, Montrezl Harrell, Landry Shamet, and Ivica Zubac all being starting-caliber. Assuming the chemistry is right, the only thing that can stop the Clippers is injuries.

NBA Champions - Los Angeles Lakers

Runner-up: Philadelphia 76ers

The Los Angeles Lakers are my NBA Champions. LeBron James got all the help he asked for and then some, there are no more excuses save for a few untimely injuries. The superpowers have shifted around a bit in the West but the conference is as challenging as ever. That is not a problem for a man that made 8 straight finals apperances before joining the Lakers. My runner ups are the Philadelphia 76ers. Believe it or not, the 76ers turned a corner last season and were a bounce away from potentially making the finals. The Raptors are no more and the Bucks are the only team left to conquer. They succeed in the inexperienced East but fall short against an experienced Western Conference Finals opponent.



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