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2015-16 NBA Awards Predictions
by Ben Leibowitz, Will Laws and Nick Selbe
Was Stephen Curry the unanimous choice to win Most Valuable Player for the second time in two years? Who emerged out of the stacked Coach of the Year field? Was there any semblance of similar picks for the convoluted Sixth Man of the Year competition?
We each provided our top three choices for all the major awards, with brief explanations for each accompanied by PointAfter's interactive visualizations.
Most Valuable Player
BL: Stephen Curry, Kawhi Leonard, Russell Westbrook
NS: Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant
WL: Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard
WL: Surprise! The face of the best regular-season team of all time (from a record standpoint) is PointAfter's unanimous choice for MVP.
Kawhi Leonard and Russell Westbrook tie for runner-up with a second-place and third-place vote apiece. Leonard took a giant offensive leap while functioning as the glue of the league's best defense, while Westbrook tied Magic Johnson's single-season record by amassing 18 triple-doubles.
LeBron James probably deserves more credit for carrying Cleveland to the No. 1 seed in the improved Eastern Conference despite down seasons from Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.
Coach of the Year
BL: Terry Stotts, Brad Stevens, Gregg Popovich
NS: Gregg Popovich, Brad Stevens, Mike Budenholzer
WL: Terry Stotts, Steve Clifford, Luke Walton
BL: Although Coach of the Year honors tend to go to the head coach of teams that finish near or at the top of the overall standings, the PointAfter crew rewarded those doing more with less.
Terry Stotts, head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers, saw four of his five starters from a season ago depart via free agency or trade last offseason.
Those losses, including All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge and defensive-minded wing Nic Batum, hinted that Portland would slide out of the Western Conference playoff picture in 2016. Instead, Stotts got the most out of a diminished group, and the Trail Blazers finished the season with the No. 5 seed in the West.
Defensive Player of the Year
BL: Draymond Green, Kawhi Leonard, Paul Millsap
NS: Kawhi Leonard, Draymond Green, Hassan Whiteside
WL: Kawhi Leonard, Draymond Green, Paul Millsap
BL: While my colleagues both voted Kawhi Leonard Defensive Player of the Year, which would make him the back-to-back winner in the category, I opted for Draymond Green. Though Leonard is an incredible defender, the versatility Green displays by defending perimeter players and holding his own in the post puts him in the driver's seat from my point of view.
According to Bleacher Report writer Adam Fromal's Total Points Added (TPA) metric, Green has the most defensive points saved of any player in the league.
Context --> Pau overrated and Dray somehow underrated.-- Adam Fromal (@fromal09) April 13, 2016
TPA score and versatility should make Dray the DPOY fave. pic.twitter.com/mC8R1L5E5B
Additionally, Green's defensive box plus/minus (DBPM) of 4.0 is superior to Leonard's mark of 2.8.
By reputation and the eye test, DPOY appears to be a two-horse race between Leonard and Green, even though the underrated Millsap deserves votes.
Sixth Man of the Year
BL: Andre Iguodala, Jeremy Lin, Will Barton
NS: Enes Kanter, Will Barton, Andre Iguodala
WL: Will Barton, Jrue Holiday, Andre Iguodala
NS: Both Barton and Iguodala enjoyed big seasons coming off the bench for their respective teams, and they appeared on all three of our ballots. Enes Kanter is perhaps the most eyebrow-raising choice of the bunch, but the 23-year-old big man ranks 10th in the league with a 24.0 PER (second among centers, one spot ahead of DeMarcus Cousins).
His ability to pour in points off the bench for OKC fits the mold of prototypical SMOY winners, defense be damned.
Most Improved Player
BL: C.J. McCollum, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Stephen Curry
NS: C.J. McCollum, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jae Crowder
WL: C.J. McCollum, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jae Crowder
WL: McCollum gave us a peek of his potential during last year's playoffs, when he was the only Trail Blazer to play with a pulse during the team's first-round, five-game loss to Memphis. After Portland was gutted of four of its starters last summer, McCollum assumed a starting role alongside Damian Lillard and increased both his raw stats and overall efficiency. The Blazers wouldn't be back in the postseason without him.
If Antetokounmpo smoothly transitions to "Point Giannis" and leads Milwaukee to the playoffs next season, he should be the favorite for 2016-17 MIP. His impressive late-season numbers were too little, too late to overtake McCollum.
Rookie of the Year
BL: Karl-Anthony Towns, Kristaps Porzingis, Devin Booker
NS: Karl-Anthony Towns, Kristaps Porzingis, Nikola Jokic
WL: Karl-Anthony Towns, Kristaps Porzingis, Devin Booker
NS: Towns is the clear-cut winner by our standards, and he should run away with the actual award when the official ballots are revealed. He played in every game this season and led all rookies in PER, win shares, points and rebounds.
His PER of 22.4 ranks No. 14 all time among rookies with at least 1,000 minutes played since the 1946-47 season -- ahead of current stars Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Anthony Davis and Kyrie Irving. Of the 13 players ahead of Towns, 10 are in the Hall of Fame, and Tim Duncan will make it 11 as soon as he's eligible for induction.
Now that's some good company.
Article: Courtesy Point After
NBA Basketball: "2015-16 NBA Awards Predictions"