You won’t find many surprises on this list, but I decided to post this anyways. This season was the most interesting regular season in recent memory, so I wanted to give these players their props for bringing excitement to my otherwise boring life in my 27th revolution around the sun.
Wardell Stephen Curry was phenomenal from start to finish, capping off the greatest offensive season ever with a ridiculous 45 points in three quarters while leading his team to the best regular season ever. 400 Threes? Check. Stop-What-You’re-Doing-And-Turn On-League Pass Heat Checks? Check. Clutch Shots? Check. 50-40-90 club? Check. This dude was the best player in the league almost every night, and no one else should garner any first place votes. Steph, I salute you. You are everything a man should be. (Leonard, James, Westbrook, and Paul round out the top 5)
Most Improved Player
Kawhi Leonard has become a superstar. He is the best two-way player in the league and now consistently plays with the greatness that he flashed two years ago when he won the Finals MVP. He is by far the best wing defender in the league and shoots the ball with top 5 efficiency. He is the perfect player to carry the Spurs into the next era, and may be the reason the Spurs knock the Warriors out of the playoffs. If he wins another Finals MVP, Kawhi will be the front-runner for next year’s regular season MVP award. (Curry, Crowder, Kemba Walker, and CJ Mccollum round of the top 5)
Draymond Green can literally guard 5 positions on the floor. People have been purported to do so in the past, but Draymond can actually do it. I seen’t it! At 6 6, Draymond should not be capable of guarding centers, but in this era of small ball, very few bigs have the ability to take advantage of mismatches in the post. Draymond uses his leverage to get underneath bigger players and has the length and quick-jumping ability to bother the fade-away jumpers that he forces in the mid-post. His quickness on the perimeter allows the Dubs to switch most pick-and-rolls, and although some guards sneak by him, he can usually block their shots from behind with his Revisesque recovery speed. He is the heart and soul of the league’s best team, and although Kawhi does many things better than Draymond, Green’s ability to guard 1-5 gives him the slight nod over Leonard. (Leonard, Whiteside, Avery Bradley, and Deandre Jordan round out the top 5)
Rookie of the Year
Karl Anthony Towns won me $250 on a $5 while I was in Vegas recently, so he definitely gets the nod here. That jump hook on the baseline to beat the Blazers cemented Towns not only as the ROY, but also as an All-NBA performer in my ballot. He is doing things that few rookies have done, and seemingly got stronger throughout the season. He is already a two-way player, and he has the skill set to be the league’s premiere big man for the next 15 years. The T-Wolves have a very bright future and the rest of the league should expect to fear the bite of their top dog for years to come.
Coach of the Year
Brad Stevens may have some stiff competition for this award, but I left Isaiah Thomas off of my All-NBA teams, gave Leonard the nod over Crowder for MIP and Livingston the edge over Turner for 6th man, so I had to make at least one homer pick here. I mean it’s my blog and no one is really paying attention anyways, and even now as I type this sentence I’m resisting the urge to give all of these awards to my boys in green. Stevens has maximized the potential of the entire roster and has the Celtics feeling good entering the playoffs after that insane comeback victory over the Heat. His ATO plays are legendary and his unchanging demeanor is rivaled only by Jay Wright. Dear Danny Ainge: if you give Stevens a superstar, he will give you a championship.
Shaun Livingston has really impressed me all year with his steady play anchoring the Dubs all-time bench. He shoots his shots every game and allows Steph to play off the ball for extended minutes, which significantly reduces Curry’s energy spent and increases floor space with all of the attention Steph garners off of the ball. Livingston also wins the Stephen A. Smith award for NBA player with the biggest forehead.
All NBA Teams
1st Team: Curry, Westbrook, Leonard, James, Green
2nd Team: Paul, Lillard, Durant, George, Aldridge
3rd Team: Lowry, Thompson, Derozan, Millsap, Towns
Apologies to Isaiah Thomas and James Harden