The NBA Caps A Thrilling Season With Individual Awards


There was no surprise when James Harden was named the regular season MVP of the NBA. He was the frontrunner among pundits and a massive betting favorite. Harden's Rockets posted the best record and he recorded a magnificent stat line of 30.4 points 8.8 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game. But the award is somewhat soured by the fact that the Rockets failed to reach the NBA Finals, partly because of Harden's uninspiring post-season performance. "MVP" awards are tricky things. Strictly speaking, LeBron James is the best and most valuable player in the NBA. Any team he goes to is a lock for the playoffs. This season, he dragged an otherwise poor team all the way to the finals. So why not give him the award?

I think the answer is simply that it would be boring to give the award to the same player year after year. The award is handed out by sportswriters and writers need stories. This year the story was that Harden exploded to a career season and his team compiled a tremendous regular season record. The Rocket's General Manager, Daryl Morey, was named the Executive of The Year.

The most interesting twist of the night came when Dwane Casey was named Coach of The Year for leading the Toronto Raptors to 59 wins, the most in franchize history. Why was this a twist? Because Casey was fired, after a disappointing playoff showing. While accepting the award, he was already the acting coach of his new team, the Detroit Pistons.

The most tightly contested award was for rookie of the year. Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers got the nod over Donovan Mitchell, who averaged 20.5 points per game for the Utah Jazz. Mitchell was something of a surprise as twelve other players were taken ahead of the Louisville product. He actively campaigned for the award, arguing that Ben Simmons was only technically a rookie, having missed his first season due to injury. However, voters were sufficiently impressed by Simmons' stat line of 15 points 8 rebounds and 8 assists per game, to hand him the trophy. The last rookie to produce such numbers was Oscar Robertson. Third place went to Jayson Tatum of The Boston Celtics.

Utah did manage to capture a trophy, however, as Rudy Gobert was named Defensive Player of The Year. Gobert dominated at center and helped The Jazz to be the second-rated defensive team in The NBA. The runners-up were Anthony Davis, who was also in the MVP running, and Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers.

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