The 2017-18 season has been an eventful one, and Monday’s awards show finally puts a cap on the year.
Six of the awards being given out were voted on by the media: MVP, Coach of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Sixth Man Award and Most Improved Player. Other awards include Executive of the Year (voted on by the league’s executives), Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year (voted on by the players), NBA Sportsmanship Award (voted on by the players) and the NBA Cares Community Assist Award (voted on by fans and a panel of judges).
The fan-voted award for Play of the Year will also be handed out, with the finalists coming from the winners of the fan-voted categories for Dunk of the Year, Clutch Shot of the Year, Assist of the Year, Block of the Year and Handle of the Year.
Let’s take a closer look at the six major media-voted awards and the trio of finalists for each one, which have already been determined, along with the ESPN Forecast projections for each category. (Note: Forecast projections were made before finalists were announced.)
Sixth Man Award
Winner: Lou Williams, LA Clippers
Other finalists: Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets; Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors
Lou Williams, who averaged a career-high 22.6 points per game while leading the LA Clippers off the bench, takes home his second MIP award. Williams also won in 2014-15 as a member of the Raptors.
Defensive Player of the Year
Winner: Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
Other finalists: Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans; Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
Rudy Gobert missed 26 games due to injury, but he was a major key to the NBA’s second-best defense and was arguably Utah’s most important player (The Jazz won 66.1 percent of games Gobert played in and only 42.3 percent of games Gobert missed).
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) June 26, 2018
Most Improved Player
Winner: Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers
Other finalists: Clint Capela, Houston Rockets; Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn Nets
Victor Oladipo represented the improvement of changing teams and roles. In Oladipo’s case, he went from being a decent starter in Oklahoma City to an All-Star while improving his numbers across the board.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) June 26, 2018
Rookie of the Year
Winner: Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers
Other finalists: Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz; Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
Simmons, the No. 1 overall pick in 2016, averaged 15.8 points, 8.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds per game for a 52-win 76ers team this season. This is the third time in the past four seasons that Rookie of the Year has gone to a former No. 1 overall pick, as Simmons joins 2014 top pick Andrew Wiggins and 2015’s Karl-Anthony Towns as members of the ROY club. Simmons is the first player to win the award after missing the entire season following being drafted since Blake Griffin, the top overall pick in 2009, won Rookie of the Year honors in 2010-11.
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) June 26, 2018
Coach of the Year
The three finalists here have unique stories when it comes to adversity. Unfortunately for Dwane Casey, his great regular season in Toronto wasn’t enough to save his job, though he landed on his feet in Detroit. Quin Snyder overcame the offseason loss of All-Star Gordon Hayward and a 19-28 start to lead the Utah Jazz back to the postseason. Hayward’s season-opening and -ending injury affected Brad Stevens, as well, and Stevens still led Boston to 55 wins.
Most Valuable Player
The league’s premier award is expected to go to James Harden, the top scorer in the NBA for the league’s top regular-season team. LeBron James played in every game this season for the first time ever, and he actually led the NBA in total points. Anthony Davis led a relatively unexpected postseason run, but the last power forward or center to win MVP was Dirk Nowitzki in 2007 — a 10-year drought that is likely to extend another year.