The 2016/17 season has passed the midway point, which means it’s time to hand out midseason awards. Here are my selections:
Sixth Man Of The Year: Eric Gordon
Gordon came to the Rockets in the offseason and he began the season as the team’s starting shooting guard before being moved to the bench. His scoring has helped the team and his efficiency has been key to their success. He second in the league in three-pointers made this season and he’s knocking down 39.2% of his attempts. Lou Williams is having a phenomenal campaign off the bench for the Lakers this season, but I give the edge to Gordon due to his team’s success.
Most Improved Player: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Antetokounpo should be rewarded for taking the leap from rising prospect to star player. He’s improved his scoring output from 16.9 points per game last season to 23.4 points per contest this year and he’s done it without sacrificing efficiency. He’s making 52.7% of his shots from the field, which is a career-high, and he’s dishing out a career-high 5.5 assists per game. His player efficiency rating is up t0 27.4, a massive rise over his 18.8 PER last season.
Rookie Of The Year: Joel Embiid
As I detailed in a recent edition of Fantasy Hoops, Embiid is having a monster season. The knock on Embiid is playing time, as 12 other rookies have played more minutes than him this season. Still, this an easy quality over quantity selection for me.
Coach Of The Year: Gregg Popovich
He’s the best.
Defensive Player Of The Year: Rudy Gobert
The Jazz are slightly behind the Warriors for the league’s best defensive efficiency rating and Gobert has been a major reason why. He leads the league in Defensive Win Share among players who’ve seen at least 300 minutes and he also leads the league in ESPN’s Defensive Real Plus/Minus. He probably should have been an All-Star over DeAndre Jordan because of the way he impacts the game, though both have excellent resumes. As for this award, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant both have cases for it, but Gobert gets the nod for me.
Most Valuable Player: James Harden
Selecting a recipient for this award comes down to what you value. Is it traditional stats? Efficiency? Elevating your team in the win column? Being the best player on a championship contender?
Harden checks all of those boxes for me this season.
LeBron James is certainly an acceptable choice here; He’s the best player in the world and the Cavs fall apart when he’s not on the floor. However, he’s not having a season that’s on par with his previous MVP campaigns.
Russell Westbrook is putting up crazy numbers, but James Harden is putting up equally impressive stats. Westbrook is averaging 31.0 points, 10.2 assists and 10.6 rebounds per game while Harden is averaging 29.1 points, 11.6 assists and 8.3 rebounds per game. Harden has the edge in field goal percentage, three-point percentage, free throw percentage and minutes played. Harden also beats out Westbrook in Win Share (10.0 to 6.9) and his team has won seven more games than Westbrook’s on the season.
Overall, there are a number of impressive candidates (don’t be surprised if Kawhi Leonard makes a second half push to plant himself in this conversation for the year-end awards), but Harden’s dominant and efficient game earns him the first half honors.
Do you agree with the selections above or do you have your own picks for the awards? If so, who would you give the award to in each of the six categories? Let us know in the comment section below. We look forward to what you have to say!