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2. LA Lakers
3. Golden State
4. LA Lakers
4. Golden State
7. LA Clippers
7. LA Clippers
8. New Orleans
8. New York
9. New Orleans
Most Valuable Player
1. Steph Curry
It’s time. Steph Curry got MVP buzz last year and the Warriors sucked! If the Warriors turn out to be good this year, and Steph is still dropping 30+ a game, with how much everybody already loves him, plus no voter fatigue since he hasn’t won it in a while, I think he has a real shot to pull in another MVP. And when Steph Curry has a shot, it’s gonna be a swish. Ha ha.
2. Kevin Durant
This is the year for the return of the 2015-18 stars. Health is the biggest factor, but if the Nets take the one seed, I see KD as a legit MVP contender. Harden seems fine to take a scoring backseat and dish 15 assists a game, and MVP is a scoring award basically, so I’d give it to KD.
3. Giannis Antetokounmpo
It’s cool we can have six different MVP frontrunners and still possibly not get it right. But I like Giannis this year. I think he’s too fun to be voter fatigued, and coming off his crazy playoffs people are going to be paying a lot of attention to him once again. If Milwaukee takes the one seed, Giannis will have a very good argument.
1. Luka Dončić
If ever there is a year to win MVP, it’s this year. His stats last year were comparable to Jokic. His playoff stats last year were crazy (35.7 / 10.3 / 7.9 on 49% shooting). His olympic stats were otherworldly (In qualifying it was 21.3 / 11.3 / 8.0 and in Tokyo 28.3 / 10.7 / 7.0). He’s going to make a jump into the clear best player in the world and it’s going to be scary to watch. The Mavs still are just okay.
2. Nikola Jokic
I think he does the exact same thing as last season and people lose a little interest in it. I think he may even deserve the MVP again, but no one cared when Russ averaged a triple double the second time. Or third. Or fourth. It sucks, but this feels kinda like that.
3. LeBron James
With the Lakers making a jump into a top team again this year, it’s pretty likely that LeBron is going to be the talk of the town. He’s going to excel with Russ and Davis at his side. Maybe having Westbrook averaging 10.2 APG will light a fire under him to try and beat that and we’ll see the first team with two players averaging triple doubles.
Defensive Player of the Year
This is a similar tactic to what we in the people-who-are-bad-at-sports-betting community call “emotional hedging.” Basically, Rudy Gobert wins this every year and I think that’s dumb. He’s a very good team defender, but I think this award should recognize versatility and actual one-on-one perimeter defense just as much as rim protection, even if rim protection is technically more valuable. So - I’m claiming that Rudy will win this award again so that I will be wrong as I always am and we’ll finally get to see somebody else win it.
This pick makes a ton of sense for a few reasons. 1) He was second in MVP voting last year and isn’t going to be in the top three this year, so voters are going to feel bad and give him something else. 2) Simmons is arguably a better defender, but voters love centers and people hate Simmons now. So, this vote is kinda a fuck you to Ben. 3) He’s actually really solid on defense. He was third in defensive rating last year after Gobert and Noel. I wish I had put Nerlens No-Miss here instead of Embiid, but I just don’t see a world in which a man named Nerlens wins a DPoY. Or any award. Maybe the Most Magical Name Award.
Rookie of the Year
Gonna go with my gut here because of that time I picked Ayton over Luka cuz I thought everyone would think it would be Ayton - one of my life’s biggest regrets. But anyway, I think Cade will have a great chance to take this award. People already love him, he’ll be able to rack up points, assists, and rebounds, and the Pistons won’t be the worst team in the league, which helps. I think Cade will be fun to watch and will get people talking about him on twitter which is honestly the main prerequisite for winning any award.
He’s so fucking cool. I thought Ant Edwards was cool, but holy shit is Jalen Green cool. He’s going to average like 24 PPG because their team is bad and he’s never going to want to pass the ball. Plus, he’s going to do it because he can. I would actually believe anything he tells me. He says he’s going to average a quadruple-double? I’m all in. A 5 by 5? Why not? A single-quadruple? We’re about to see someone score 1000 points per game. I think Cade is better and will have a better career, but Green feels more ready to have great stats this season. It’ll ignite something in Cade. I hope they play in the finals against each other someday and Cade just systematically picks Houston apart because of this RoY.
Sixth Man of the Year
I honestly don’t know who’s gonna win this award. If I had to bet, I’d take Jordan Clarkson just because I think nobody will run away with it, and if the Jazz are good again he’ll get some press for it. But, I like Patty Mills as a sleeper (as long as he doesn’t start in place of Kyrie). He’s been on the Spurs so long, so nobody has ever seen him play, but if he runs the bench unit like he carries Australia’s national team, he’ll be a prime candidate to be 6MoY.
How cool would it be if Melo won this? He’s never won a major award in the league (other than NBA Social Justice Champion Award in 2021). He’s going to be coming off the bench for one of the best teams in the NBA and probably scoring pretty well for them. I don’t even think it’s a huge stretch to say he has a chance of winning this award. It would be so cool. His book just came out too. Maybe he should have waited a year so he could write about this 6MoY award.
Most Improved Player of the Year
You know how when Bol Bol comes in at the end of preseason games, he gets like two absurd blocks and drains a bunch of threes and it looks insane cuz his limbs are like 8 feet long? That’s like what Chris Boucher can do, except Boucher can do it in real games. The biggest drawback here would be people not paying attention to Toronto this season, but if Boucher is given the minutes he can put up some impressive efficient numbers. I liked him last year, but it was too soon for him to truly shine. This year, back in Toronto, people will take note. In his career, his PPG average has gone from 0.0 to 3.3 to 6.6 to 13.6 - which means this season he’s on pace to score like 27 points per game. Wait, I should’ve put him as my MVP favorite instead.
Michael Porter Jr.
I was going to pick Markus Howard for this, but his teammate makes a little more sense. MPJ just got a huge extension and is going to get a lot of looks with Jamaal still out. He recently said that he isn’t against the vaccine, just against forcing people to take it, but I think most anti-vaxxers will change their mind once they can’t play in a game and are losing money. His rookie to sophomore seasons saw Porter Jr. double his minutes and shots per game and, obviously, his stats exploded up to 19 PPG and 7.3 RPG because of it. But, not only did his scoring increase, so did his efficiency. He shot 54.2 / 44.5 / 79.1 last year. I think he’s going to be an all-star (Cleveland doesn’t have a vaccine mandate, so he’ll probably play too) and it’s going to be enough to take home this trophy.
Coach of the Year
Easy. Nate McMillan’s got this in the bag. Last season, before McMillan arrived, the Hawks were 14-20. They brought on Nate, and went 27-11 to finish the season 41-31, and then busted some ass in the playoffs to get to the Conference Finals. Nobody saw that coming from the Hawks lol. If that was real, and they’re a legit top tier contender this year, there’s no question in my mind that Nate McMillan will get the Coach of the Year nod. Honestly I’m surprised he didn’t win it last year. If he gets Trae Young to pick-and-roll the Hawks to a top three seed, then I’ll finally get one of these right.
I originally picked Monty to win this and was 95% finished with my paragraph when I started over. I was thinking of other coaches who could be runners up to Monty when I remembered that Golden State is going to be good again this year. There’s nothing voters like more than storylines and Kerr bringing GSW back into a top seed is a story with many lines. I love Kerr, everyone loves Kerr, Golden State is fun to watch, Curry is going to average 30 without drawing as many fouls and people are going to say, “what a play call by Kerr.” Also he only has one of these awards and that doesn’t feel like enough. I mean, for fucks sake even Budenholzer has two of them.
Brad Stevens of the Year
I don’t know if he’s eligible to win this award since he’s technically not the GM, but this feels like a Pat Riley award this year to me. The Heat made the only really notable free agent move of the offseason in signing Kyle Lowry. They also didn’t trade Tyler Herro, so if he turns out to be good again then that’ll seem smart too. But to me, Miami seems like the only contender that made any big notable moves, and I think such a move is usually necessary to get consideration for this award. This is definitely contingent on Miami being good, but I guess so are all of these awards so I don’t even know why I bother to say that in every single blurb. But yeah - if the Heat are good, give it to Pat Riley.
He had a fantastic first offseason as an executive and made some impressive moves to increase the Celtics’s depth. Their bench last year looked like a team that was trying to win the lottery and is just waiting for their youngins to accrue more talent before they can compete, alla OKC. Stevens picked up Richardson, Schröder, Horford (let’s go), Kanter, Juancho, Sam Hauser (Marquette boy. Kind of. I’m still mad at him for transfering), and more. He dumped Kemba’s contract and paid Smart. He drafted Juhann Begarin and hired Ime Udoka. When the Celtics do better than they’re expected to, look for Stevens to win this award. Also I love giving him this award for some reason.
I’m loving being in the post-Warriors dynasty era where when I have to pick an NBA champion I actually have no idea and never feel good about my pick. But here’s my thinking:
Warriors: Are not good enough
Lakers: Injury concerns concern me
Phoenix: CP3’s age concerns me more this year
Brooklyn: Honestly could win it, but I’m just not vibing with them
Atlanta: Too young. And too reliant on Trae Young.
Miami: Just not vibing with this
Dallas: Jason Kidd concerns me
Philadelphia: Need to get a real return for Ben Simmons.
With Milwaukee, there are definitely concerns, but they looked very good in the last playoffs, and I don’t see why they wouldn’t be able to do it again. Quite honestly Jrue Holiday played really badly through most of the playoffs. If he can be more himself, the Bucks could wind up being even better.
I’d imagine the Lakers are going to make it out of the West, but their roster is kind of hilarious so I could see it being Golden State or Phoenix. None of those teams impress me as much as Milwaukee (or Brooklyn, tbh), so I’ll roll with the Bucks as my 2022 champs.
The Brooklyn Nets
It feels like there is going to be a really cool thing in the Western Conference Finals where Lebron and Curry are going to have another stomp around. It’s going to be glorious and beautiful and reminiscent and deadly and vengeful and wonderful and peaceful and precise and precious and explosive and dangerous and malicious and delightful and friendly all at once. As much as I love LeBron and think that the Lakers are good, I think Golden State ekes that series out and makes it to the finals. Also the Suns do not do that well in the playoffs. GSW will win that series in 6, maybe even 5. Okay, that’s one Finals team.
In the East, Chicago gets swept by Boston who gets swept by the Nets who sweep the Bucks who swept New York and then played a good series against Atlanta who swept Miami. Also the Nets swept Philadelphia. Phew, that’s the other finals team. Side note: This is going to be the fewest games played in the East in any one playoffs ever: 30.
Then in the finals, the Nets and Warriors are going to have an epic battle. It’s going to be KD vs. His Old Team, Curry vs. Kyrie, Harden vs. The NBA Finals, and Kyrie vs. COVID Restrictions. Ultimately, after playing Luka, the Suns, and the Lakers, Golden State is going to be too tired and banged up to play against the Nets who just miraculously swept their way to the finals. The Nets will win in 7.