With training camps around the corner and the NBA offseason nearly coming to a close, we look ahead to next season. Another exhilarating year with new faces, movement and trades, and more changes to the NBA hierarchy. But year after year, the individual greatness of the stars remains the same. Today we’ll give our early award predictions for the upcoming 2021-22 season.
MVP: Steph Curry
With the plethora of MVP candidates, this may have been the most challenging award to predict. However, it seems like Steph is always a safe bet to hold this prestigious award if healthy. Many don’t realize when Steph was playing, the Warriors went 37-26. Now with the return of Klay Thompson and an underrated offseason, the Warriors have the talent to be a top 4 team in the west. They added Kuminga and Moody through the draft and signed Iguodala, Porter Jr., and Bjelica. All of them can contribute to winning right away and make the warriors much deeper. A healthy Klay pushes them to contenders. Steph had one of his best years last season, leading the Warriors to a near playoff berth with limited help. With improved talent surrounding him, look for the Warriors to have a high seeding and Steph to put up MVP numbers.
DPOY: Rudy Gobert
We could’ve gone with Giannis, Ben Simmons, or Anthony Davis for this award. But the three-time defensive player of the year should be the favorite to win. He’s an absolute force on the defensive end with his elite presence, awareness, and shot-blocking. Gobert ranked second in the league in defensive win shares, first in defensive boards, first in total blocks, and second in blocks per game. Additionally, he was fourth in the league in win shares. Many considered him the best defensive player in the league. Gobert’s stats proved that to be true. An elite defensive anchor, Rudy Gobert has all the talent to hold this award back to back. Look for him to make more history next season.
ROY: Cade Cunningham
It was difficult to predict who would come out victorious in the Rookie of the Year race. All signs point for a showdown between the first and second picks, Green and Cunningham. Many are on opposite sides of the fences, but we’ll lean slightly towards Cade. For Green, he’ll have to play with two other ball-dominant players in John Wall and KPJ. We know how great of an offensive talent Green is, but his production may be harmed by having those guys on his team. However, that’s not the case for Cade. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Cade will have the ball majority of the time in Detroit. Killian Hayes hasn’t proven he can be the lead guard, and Cade seems like a leader right off the bat. Add that to Cade’s incredible playmaking and shot-making skills he’ll have the best chance to claim the Rookie of the year award.
MIP: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Before the season-ending injury, SGA was having an incredible season. Putting up career numbers, SGA was on par with some of the young elite talents in the league. Furthermore, he became an incredible playmaker, highly efficient scorer, and vastly improved shot creator. Many have referred to him as the most underrated player in the league, with his game backing it up. He has all the makings of a superstar in this league, and there’s a high chance he can put it all together next season. With more talent around him after the draft and a healthy offseason, look for SGA to take another leap and win the most improved player award.
6MOTY: Jordan Clarkson
After winning the sixth man of the year award last season, Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jazz looks to repeat once again. Clarkson posted career highs throughout the board, averaging about 18 points per game. With the ultimate green light, Clarkson put up incredible stats and ended up running away with the award. Being a contributor to the team with the best record in the NBA solidified his case even more. When you look at the landscape of the NBA, Jordan seems to be the superior talent among 6th men by far, making him the favorite. With the Jazz running it back next season, they seem to be a good bet for a high seed. Clarkson’s role and the shot tendency will also remain the same, keeping his stats high. All the signs and favors seem to push towards a back-to-back recipient of the award.
COTY: Nate McMillan
Hawks started the season off the season 14-20 and looked to be a disappointment once again. Lloyd Pierce was relieved of his duties, and Nate McMillan was hired as his replacement. Once Nate took over, the Hawks went on an eight-game winning streak and never looked back. With Nate as the head coach, the Hawks went 27-11 over the regular season and tied for the 4th seed in the east. In addition, Nate led the Hawks to the eastern conference finals, knocking off the 76ers and Knicks along the way. With Nate McMillan finally hired as the head coach, the Hawks have all the talent to duplicate their success from last season. Look for the Hawks to have a high seed and for Nate to win his first coach of the year award.
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