Now that the 2017-18 NBA regular season has come to an end, now comes the arduous task for distinguished journalists to reflect upon the season and cast their votes to determine the players worthy of an award reflecting each particular individual triumph. The annual awards are broken down into six honourable categories, which are as follows; Defensive Player Of The Year, Sixth Man Of The Year, Most Improved Player, Rookie Of The Year, Coach Of The Year and the coveted MVP, all to be awarded ceremoniously on 25 June.
And, whilst various distinguished members of the media and associated league officials are amongst those whose votes count toward the official ballot, we here at the Courier are not involved in this process. However, not to be deterred, we will present the Courier’s, just as globally regarded and esteemed, NBA 2017-18 regular season awards. And although the players may not admit it, this is the one they really want. For comparison, just think of ours as the Academy Awards to the NBA’s Razzies… Anyway, lets go.
Defensive Player Of The Year
2017: Draymond Green - GSW
2016: Kawhi Leonard - SAS
2018 - Rudy Gobert – Utah Jazz
Rudy Gobert missed 26 of the opening 44 games for the Utah Jazz, a statistic that would surely prove detrimental to his chances of winning the DPOY. However, upon his return, the Jazz went on an incredible run of 30-8, truly highlighting Gobert’s dominance on the defensive end. He has been described as a defense all onto himself and when on the court, the Jazz allow for only 97.9 points per 100 possessions, which is extraordinary. There are also a lot of things that the stats don’t tell you, and this is evident in Gobert’s leadership. His leading presence on the court has steered the Jazz to the playoffs and in the process demonstrated the crucial importance of a world-class defensive structure, * Cavs *.
Sixth Man Of The Year
2017: Eric Gordon - HR
2016: Jamal Crawford - LAC
2018 - Lou Williams – Los Angeles Clippers
Lou Williams has averaged 23 points this season, off the bench. He has essentially carried the workload for the Los Angeles Clippers, and in doing so; he has done it with an extremely high efficiency per 57% from the field. He also averages five assists a game, off the bench. In winning this award, Williams adds to the other sixth man award he won in Toronto, joining other elite players with multiple sixth man trophies such as, Jamal Crawford and Kevin McHale. Team player.
Most Improved Player
2017: Giannis Antetokounmpo - MB
2016: CJ McCollum - PT
2018 - Victor Oladipo – Indiana Pacers
This past off-season, the Indiana Pacers were left in a predicament. Their star player, Paul George had one year left on his contract and the feeling in Indiana was he had no plans to stay when the contract expired. So, in a move that was questioned by fans everywhere, the Pacers traded George to Oklahoma with Victor Oladipo and Domantis Sabonis coming in the other direction. Oladipo has always been nice, but was always a latter thought with teammates like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in the frame. However, this year, when handed the reigns, Oladipo averaged 23 points and led the Pacers to fifth seed in the East. Previously mocked for his perceived lack of competence at the general manager position, Kevin Prichard has seemingly delivered a masterstroke for the Pacers in the Oladipo trade, whilst also silencing the ridiculers. But hey, they laughed at Louis Armstrong when he said he was gonna go to the moon… Now he’s up there, laughing at them!
Rookie Of The Year
2017: Malcolm Brogdon - MB
2016: Karl-Anthony Towns - MT
2018 - Ben Simmons – Philadelphia 76er’s
This year’s rookie of the year chase has been enthralling. Ben Simmons vs. Donavan Mitchell. Not to pit these players against each other, but they’ve not so subtly been taunting each other as the season came to a close. The growing animosity is also fueled by a rather curious NBA rule, which states, a Rookie season can only be called as such, when a certain amount of games are played. Technically, Ben Simmons is in his second year in the NBA. However, an injury plagued ‘rookie’ season limited Simmons games to exactly, 0. Then again, he has had the benefit of practicing with the pro’s, travelling and generally being in that environment for the past year. Enter Donavan Mitchell, who exploded on the scene by revitalizing the Utah Jazz offence and leading them to the playoffs. His pure scoring ability alone is enough to make his case, with an average of 21 points a game. Ben Simmons however, is a 6-10 point guard, who can do it all. Averaging 16 points and 8 assists, and securing the third seed in the East, the current trajectory for the 76er’s is only up. It has to be Simmons.
Coach Of The Year
2017: Mike D’Antoni - HR
2016: Steve Kerr - GSW
2018 - Quin Snyder – Utah Jazz
Coach Of The Year is an award that can be judged in numerous ways. It would be simple to suggest that the team with the highest win percentage stems from the coach who orchestrated it all. In this scenario, that coach would be Houston’s Mike D’Antoni, also last year recipient. However, the general consensus for basketball heads is that the coach is only as good as the players disposable to him. Therefore, how a coach modifies and adapts to his roster throughout the season is what can potentially separate good and great coaches. This is evident in the work Quin Snyder has done in Utah. A small market team, that lost their most valuable asset in the off-season, Utah’s outlook was bleak, however, implementing a high tempo offense backed by future star Donovan Mitchell and a juggernaut, brick wall defender at the rim in Rudy Gobert, Utah made the playoffs in superb fashion. Quin Snyder deserves all the plaudits and he’ll get them. Honorable mention goes to Brad Stevens.
The Courier’s 2017-18 Regular Season Most Valuable Player Award
2017: Russell Westbrook - OCT
2016: Steph Curry – GSW
Okay, so, admission time. I’ve never seen any Marvel films. I’ve never seen any Harry Potter films, Star Wars or Lord Of The Rings. Yes, I do live on Planet Earth and for those whose trust I have now misplaced, I apologize, ill get round to watching them, for those that have continued to read this piece, thank you. Anyway, I make this revelation to say this. LeBron James is not only the current greatest basketball player in the world, but he also has the ability to out Bat, Batman, out Jedi, Yoda and out Ski, Harry Potter. Basically, he is superhuman. And, throughout all the Cavs struggles this season, head coach out, half the team traded and internal and external drama, LeBron has played all 82 games and led the Cavs to the fourth seed in the East, with a stat line that reads, 28, 9 and 9. So, with that said, The 2017-18 Courier NBA Regular Season Most Valuable Player Award goes to… James Harden.
Well, yeah. LeBron is the best in the world, but Harden is currently on another planet. Houston finished first in the West. Averaging 30 points and 9 assists, “The Beard” appears to have channeled his inner “Kobe”, to lethal proportions. The leagues leading scorer has also been runner-up in this vote on two occasions and it just feels like his time. If the Rockets can go the distance and defeat the super team Golden State Warriors in the process, this could be the greatest feat in Houston’s storied history.