Talking NBA Awards, Trades At The 2017 MIT Sloan Conference

Hoops Rumors recently spoke with several current and former league executives as well as other media members at this year’s MIT Sloan Conference. We conducted a brief poll with topics ranging from the MVP race to front office moves. Here are some highlights from the discussions with our six poll participants:

2017 Most Valuable Player

All but one of our six participants said Russell Westbrook should be the NBA’s 2017 MVP. During the conference’s Ball Don’t Lie Panel, former Nuggets executive Dean Oliver, who was not part of the group, compared Westbrook’s candidacy to Miguel Cabrera’s 2012 MLB MVP campaign: “Stats lie, but people will vote for [Westbrook] because of the stats.”

Cabrera won the American League triple crown in 2012 and was named Most Valuable Player, but many observers felt that Mike Trout had the better overall season and should have won the award.

Many Sloan attendees told Hoops Rumors that we may be headed for a similar situation in the NBA this season, with Westbrook receiving votes because of the triple-doubles even though LeBron James, James Harden and Kawhi Leonard all deserve as much – if not more – credit for how they help their respective teams.

2017 Rookie of The Year

It’s a small sample size, but it’s telling that none of the six members polled said they would vote for Joel Embiid for the Rookie of the Year. While Embiid is easily the most impressive rookie in terms of per-game impact, he hasn’t even cracked 800 minutes this season.

By comparison, Dario Saric has already played nearly 1,700 minutes with 16 games to go. Saric received four of the votes in our poll, while Malcolm Brogdon received the other two.

However, one former executive told Hoops Rumors that Buddy Hield could still work his way into the conversation. That exec believed that the Kings could give Hield “free reign” in the offense over the final stretch of the season.

Most impactful trade deadline deal

The Mavericks’ acquisition of Nerlens Noel from the Sixers received the most votes for the deadline deal that will be the most impactful long-term, slightly edging out the Pelicans’ DeMarcus Cousins deal.

The trade that has the most impact short-term? Two votes were cast for Houston landing Lou Williams. The Cousins trade received two votes as well, while Washington’s Bojan Bogdanovic deal and Toronto’s Serge Ibaka/P.J. Tucker acquisitions (technically two separate trades, but viewed as one elongated transaction) also received one vote apiece.

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