Community Shootaround: NBA Bubble Awards

They won’t exactly be as meaningful as the end-of-season MVP, All-NBA, and Coach of the Year awards, but the NBA will announce the winners of similar awards for its summer bubble on Saturday. Based exclusively on performances from July 30 to August 14, the league will name a Player of the Seeding Games, a Coach of the Seeding Games, and an All-Seeding Games Team.

The one-off awards will give the NBA an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the summer’s most pleasant surprises, such as the 8-0 Suns, the only undefeated team of the restart. Phoenix didn’t end up qualifying for a play-in tournament in the Western Conference, but it seems safe to assume that coach Monty Williams and star Devin Booker (30.5 PPG, 6.0 APG) will get plenty of award votes from media members this week.

With apologies to Jacque Vaughn (Nets), Terry Stotts (Trail Blazers), Nick Nurse (Raptors), and a few other worthy candidates, Williams looks like the overwhelming favorite for the Coach of the Bubble award. The Suns were viewed by many observers as unworthy of an invite to Orlando, but their 8-0 run – without key veterans like Aron Baynes and Kelly Oubre – left no doubt that they belonged.

Booker will face stiff competition for Player of the Bubble honors though. The frontrunner is probably Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, who averaged a staggering 51.3 PPG in his team’s last three games — Portland needed to win all three in order to qualify for a play-in tournament, and did, by a combined margin of seven points. Lillard, who averaged 37.6 PPG and 9.6 APG on .497/.436/.888 in eight total games, came up big when it mattered most for the Blazers.

John Hollinger of The Athletic and D.J. Foster of The Athletic each included Booker and Lillard on their All-Bubble First Team alongside Rockets guard James Harden, Pacers forward T.J. Warren, and Mavericks guard Luka Doncic.

Harden has put up numbers that are even more eye-popping than usual in six games at Walt Disney World, averaging 35.3 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 8.7 APG, and 3.0 SPG as the Rockets moved up a spot in the standings.

Warren will miss Indiana’s last two games, but his 53-point performance on August 1 vs. Philadelphia was one of the single-best games of the summer. He finished with averages of 31.0 PPG and 6.3 RPG on .578/.524/.889 shooting.

Doncic, meanwhile, came just two assists away from averaging a triple-double in seven summer games, with 30.0 PPG, 10.1 RPG, and 9.7 APG.

There are other worthy contenders for All-Bubble First Team consideration, including some of the usual suspects, such as Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo (27.8 PPG, 12.2 RBG, 4.2 APG, .626 FG%) and Clippers star Kawhi Leonard (28.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 4.3 APG, .479/.485/.865 shooting). Kristaps Porzingis was actually the Mavericks’ leading scorer over Doncic, with 30.5 PPG, 9.5 RPG, and 1.5 BPG in six games.

And while their numbers aren’t quite as gaudy, young players like Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., Spurs guard Derrick White, and Nets wing Caris LeVert were among the most impressive summer performers.

What do you think? If you were voting for the same awards as media members – a Player of the Bubble, Coach of the Bubble, and two All-Bubble teams, what would your picks look like? Does a Lillard/Booker/Harden/Warren/Doncic First Team look right to you, or are there other players you believe deserve a First Team spot?

Head to the comment section below to weigh in with your thoughts!

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16 thoughts on “Community Shootaround: NBA Bubble Awards

  1. hiflew

    Honestly, since the Suns went undefeated and still didn’t make the play in game, then they WERE unworthy of being invited back. The quality of their play in 8 games just means they got hot, but it really proved meaningless. And that fact shouldn’t have any bearing on whether they should have been invited back.

    • Real 2K Insider

      Err, no. The Suns didn’t make the play-in game because Portland went 6-2. Anything worse and they’re in.

      82-game Pro-rated win totals:
      39 Blazers
      38 Grizzlies
      38 Suns
      37 Spurs
      35 Kings
      34 Pelicans
      24 Wolves
      19 Warriors

      They were on a 32-win pace prior to the shutdown, which was still well above the other teams that were left at home.

  2. nentwigs

    My choices would be:

    Bubble Wrap
    MR Bubble
    Bubble Gum
    Bubble Up
    Soap Bubble
    Liquid Bubbles
    and
    let’s not forget….
    Tiny Bubbles

  3. harden-westbrook-mvps

    Any type of First Team honors including James Harden always looks right.

  4. 4thinfsgt

    One day, voters will realize that Lillard is worthy of the MVP award.

    • harden-westbrook-mvps

      Very unlikely. Giannis and Harden will continue being MVP finalists while Doncic will probably be the 3rd finalist next season replacing the rapidly-aging LeBron James. Lillard will have a hard time finishing ahead of those 3 guys in any MVP race over the next few years.

  5. nentwigs

    ANY AND ALL sports awards are meaningless when consideration is given to the various medical professionals who have served in the trenches and DIED providing selfless care to the COVID-19 victims around the world in this current pandemic. THOSE PEOPLE are the TRUE AWARD WINNERS each and every day.

  6. Simmons>Russ

    Coach Monty Williams
    MVP Dame Lillard
    MIP TJ Warren
    DFPOTB Who cares how can you give out awards for a 8 gam stretch. These awards have as much meaning as player of the week or player of the month

  7. El Don

    MVP Luka
    1st ABT
    Lillard Harden Doncic KP6 Jokic
    2nd ABT
    Booker Giannis MPJ TJ Nurkic
    COB Monty

    BTW I do consider these awards important, as they represent a very important part of the season.
    At least are more important than a team winning a division title or #1 in their conference.

    • harden-westbrook-mvps

      There are no unicorns on the first team. The gap between Doncic and KP is much bigger than you think. People thought that Kristaps was going to be a great player like Doncic already beat him to in a very short amount of time. But he’s not an elite player like his younger teammate, and more than likely never will be.

    • harden-westbrook-mvps

      If Monty wins, it’s purely a consolation prize for missing the playoffs.

    • wagner13

      Why isn’t Booker on your first team? He carried the Suns to success without Oubre and was much more important to Phoenix than KP was to Dallas

      • El Don

        I wanted Booker in the first, it was a toss between him & Lillard, but I cannot in good conscience put a team full of guards, I tried to keep the semblance of a real team, I already had to sacrifice Luka as a forward, couldn’t put him as a PF, right?
        Real shame as I absolutely love me some D-Book!
        BTW KP6 got a 31/10/2 line which ain’t bad at all, not upset putting him in the first, he has been the best forward in the bubble, that’s for sure!

        • wagner13

          Thanks for clarifying, as that makes much more sense. I do agree about KP being the best big, although I think Warren gave him a run for his money. My only complaint was his inability to defend the pick and roll against Portland

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