2022 NBA Awards

Stephen Curry Wins Inaugural Magic Johnson Trophy As Western Finals MVP

Warriors guard Stephen Curry has been awarded the inaugural Magic Johnson Trophy as the Most Valuable Player of the 2022 Western Conference Finals, the NBA announced following Game 5 on Thursday night.

The league introduced the award – along with the Larry Bird Trophy for the Eastern Finals MVP – earlier this month, and Curry has become the first-ever player to win it after leading Golden State to a 4-1 series victory over Dallas.

The award was voted on by nine local and national media members covering the series — Curry received all nine votes.

Although he only had 15 points in the Warriors’ close-out victory on Thursday, Curry was the team’s leading scorer in the five-game series, averaging 23.8 PPG on .444/.439/.840 shooting to go along with 7.4 APG and 6.6 RPG. His best performances came in Game 2 (32 points and six 3-pointers) and Game 3 (31 points and 11 assists) as he helped Golden State build an insurmountable series lead.

The Warriors are back in the NBA Finals after making it five consecutive times from 2015-19. They await the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Celtics and Heat.

2021/2022 All-NBA Teams Announced

The 2021/22 All-NBA teams have officially been announced by the NBA. For the fourth straight season, Bucks All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was unanimously selected to the All-NBA First Team by a voter panel of 100 media members. Antetokounmpo, 27, is making his sixth All-NBA team overall.

Antetokounmpo, reigning MVP Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, and Mavericks point guard Luka Doncic received the most votes. Suns All-Star shooting guard Devin Booker and Sixers All-Star center Joel Embiid rounded out the list of top five vote-getters. Because the All-NBA teams, unlike the All-Star squads, require just one center per team, Embiid was relegated to an All-NBA Second Team placing.

Below is a list of the three All-NBA teams. Vote tallies are listed in parentheses next to player names. Five points were awarded to players for a First Team Vote, three points netted for a Second Team vote, and one for a Third Team vote. Antetokounmpo earned a perfect 500 points.

All-NBA First Team

All-NBA Second Team

All-NBA Third Team

Jazz center Rudy Gobert and shooting guard Donovan Mitchell, Heat center Bam Adebayo and small forward Jimmy Butler, Celtics swingman Jaylen Brown, Bucks guards Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday, Grizzlies shooting guard Desmond Bane, Suns small forward Mikal Bridges, Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray, and Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet all received All-NBA votes. Surprisingly, Nets point guard Kyrie Irving, who played in just 29 games this season, also received a single vote.

As we previously outlined, the All-NBA selections come with significant financial ramifications. As a result of being named to All-NBA teams, Booker and Towns have become eligible for super-max extensions that would begin in 2024/25. If they’re signed this offseason, those deals would be for four years and would start at 35% of the ’24/25 cap. According to Bobby Marks of ESPN (via Twitter), they currently project to be worth $211MM apiece.

Young’s five-year contract extension, which was signed last August and will go into effect in 2022/23, will now be worth 30% of next season’s cap instead of 25% by virtue of his All-NBA selection. Based on a projected $122MM cap, that means it’ll be worth about $212MM instead of $177MM.

Jokic had already met the super-max requirements prior to this announcement, since he won last year’s MVP award — he’s eligible to sign a five-year, super-max extension this offseason and has said he plans to do so. Doncic, who signed a maximum-salary contract extension last summer, also previously met the super-max criteria by earning All-NBA nods in 2020 and 2021.

Notable players who are not eligible this offseason for super-max deals include Morant and Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine. As Marks tweets, Morant needs to make the All-NBA team again in 2023 to qualify for a starting salary worth 30% of the cap (instead of 25%) on his next deal.

LaVine, a free agent this offseason, would have been eligible to earn up to 35% of next season’s cap from the Bulls if he had made an All-NBA team, but will instead be able to earn no more than 30% of the ’22/23 cap on his next contract.

With their inclusions, Morant, Booker, and Young are making their All-NBA team debuts. Meanwhile, on the other side of the NBA aging curve, two 37-year-old veterans further cemented their Hall of Fame credentials during the 2021/22 season. James made his 18th All-NBA team, while Paul was named to his 11th All-NBA team.

Marcus Smart, Mikal Bridges Head All-Defensive Team

Marcus Smart, Mikal Bridges, Rudy Gobert, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jaren Jackson Jr. comprise the 2021/22 All-Defensive First Team, the NBA announced in a press release.

Smart, who was voted Defensive Player of the Year, received the most points with 198 (99 first-place votes), but he was left off of one voter’s ballot. It’s his third All-Defensive nod, all First Team.

DPOY runner-up Bridges was second with 193 points (it’s his first All-Defensive team), followed by third place finisher Gobert (171), a three-time DPOY who has now been voted to the First Team for the sixth straight season.

Antetokounmpo, the ’19/20 DPOY, was voted to his fourth consecutive First Team. He was also selected to the Second Team in ’16/17, so it’s his fifth nod overall.

Jackson, who led the league in blocked shots per game at 2.27, makes his first All-Defensive Team, edging Bam Adebayo by just one point (153 to 152) for the First Team. It’s the third straight season Adebayo has been selected to the Second Team.

Jrue Holiday earns his fourth All-Defensive honor, now owning two Firsts and two Seconds. He also earned a $120K bonus for his efforts, per Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link), which will increase the Bucks‘ luxury tax payment to about $52MM.

Matisse Thybulle was selected to the Second Team for the second straight year, while Robert Williams earns his first nod. Williams has a $223,215 bonus attached to his rookie scale extension, but he won’t earn it for his efforts this season because he’s in the final season of his rookie contract. However, the award will change his cap hit for ’22/23 (up to $10,937,502), because he’s now considered likely to achieve an All-D nod again next season, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks relays (via Twitter).

Draymond Green, the ’16/17 DPOY, was the final selection to the Second Team. It’s his seventh All-Defensive Team overall (four Firsts, three Seconds). Green is now second among all active players in All-Defensive Team awards, only trailing Chris Paul (nine). He was previously tied with LeBron James at six.

Here are both All-Defensive teams in full, with their voting point totals noted in parentheses. Players received two points for a First Team vote and one point for a Second Team vote.

2021/22 All-Defensive First Team:

2021/22 All-Defensive Second Team:

A total of 24 other players received votes: 10 guards, 11 forwards and three centers. Among the group that missed the cut, Fred VanVleet was the top guard with 41 points, Evan Mobley was the top forward with 13, and Joel Embiid was the top center with 33. The full results can be found here.

One thing worth noting, which I personally disagree with: media members with ballots are asked to select two guards, two forwards and one center for each team, and vote for players “at the position they play regularly,” which is counterintuitive in the modern NBA, where positions increasingly matter less and less. “Players who received votes at multiple positions were slotted at the position at which they received the most voting points,” per the release.

Forcing voters to shoehorn players into positions is a poor process. For example, Adebayo starts at center, but is listed as a forward; Bridges is listed at guard, but starts at small forward. I’m not saying those players were undeserving, far from it — but it’s an irritating and outdated inconsistency.

In my opinion, the best defensive players should be on the All-Defensive teams, regardless of position. I’d also like to see a third All-D team so more recognition is given to players for their efforts on the less glamorous end of the court.

Barnes, Cunningham, Mobley Head All-Rookie Team

Scottie Barnes, Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, Franz Wagner and Jalen Green comprised this year’s All-Rookie First Team, the NBA announced in a press release.

Barnes, Cunningham and Mobley were all unanimous selections, receiving the maximum total of 200 points each. Wagner received 183 points, followed by Green with 158. Strangely, one media member left Wagner off their ballot completely, as he received 99 of 100 possible votes.

Raptors wing Barnes, who narrowly edged Cavaliers big man Mobley for the Rookie of the Year award, ranked third in points (15.3) and rebounds (7.5) among all rookies, and fifth in assists (3.5). Mobley was fifth in points (15.0) and led all first-year players in rebounds (8.3) and blocks (1.67) per game.

Pistons guard Cunningham, the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft, was first among rookies in points (17.4), second in assists (5.6) and fifth in rebounds (5.5). Magic forward Wagner also had a great year, averaging 15.4 points (fourth among rookies), 4.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 79 games. Rockets guard Green finished the season strong, scoring 20+ points in 17 of his last 25 games on his way to averaging 17.3 points, second among first-year players.

Pelicans defensive ace Herbert Jones (123 votes) and Thunder floor general Josh Giddey (122 votes) headline the Second Team. Jones averaged 9.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.7 steals (first among rookies) and should at least receive votes for an All-Defensive nod, even if he doesn’t end up making one of the two teams.

In addition to averaging 12.5 points, Giddey was second among rookies in rebounds (7.8) and first in assists (6.4), but he only appeared in 54 of 82 games, having missed the final 23 contests with a hip injury, which is likely why he didn’t receive more First Team votes.

Here are both All-Rookie teams in full, with their voting point totals noted in parentheses. Players received two points for a First Team vote and one point for a Second Team vote.

2021/22 All-Rookie First Team:

2021/22 All-Rookie Second Team:

Ten other rookies received votes — you can view the full voting results right here. Among the group that missed the cut, Warriors forward Jonathan Kuminga (47) was just behind Duarte, with Kings guard Davion Mitchell (28) the only other player receiving a significant number of votes.

Grizzlies’ Zach Kleiman Wins Executive Of The Year Award

Grizzlies general manager and executive vice president of basketball operations Zach Kleiman has been voted the 2021/22 NBA Executive of the Year, the league has announced (Twitter link).

According to the NBA, the 33-year-old Kleiman is the youngest winner of the honor in its history. He’s also just the second Grizzlies executive to take home the award, joining Jerry West, who was named Executive of the Year for his work during the 2003/04 season.

Kleiman earned 16 of 29 possible first-place votes from his fellow NBA executives, netting a total of 85 points in his favor from the league’s voting system. He previously finished sixth in voting for the 2019/2020 NBA season.

Cavaliers president Koby Altman and Bulls president Arturas Karnisovas earned 27 points apiece, tying for second place as they led a pair of longtime lottery clubs back to the postseason with savvy personnel moves. The Cavs did not advance out of the play-in tournament, and the Bulls lost 4-1 to the Bucks in their first-round matchup.

The top five was rounded out by another tie, as Suns GM James Jones, the 2020/21 NBA Executive of the Year, and Heat president Pat Riley each notched 26 points in voting. Both their top-seeded clubs lead their respective Conference Semifinals series 3-2 as of this writing.

“This is an organizational honor,” Kleiman said of the award in a Grizzlies press release. “I wouldn’t be in this position without [owner] Robert [Pera]’s vision and support, and I’m grateful to be pursuing NBA championships in Memphis with such a driven and competitive group of players and staff. Thank you to my peers for this recognition.”

Thanks in part to the excellent roster-building work of Kleiman, Memphis finished with a 56-26 record in the Western Conference, tying the club’s all-time franchise mark for regular season wins. During a condensed 2020/21 season, the Grizzlies finished with a 38-34 record and lost to the Jazz in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

Breakout Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant, selected with the second pick out of Murray State in 2019, made his first All-Star team and won the 2021/22 Most Improved Player Award for his work this season. Morant was the first draft pick Kleiman made as the Grizzlies’ lead executive, a role he has had since April 2019.

The Grizzlies first hired Kleiman to serve as their in-house legal counsel in 2015. He became assistant GM to under then-lead decision maker Chris Wallace during the 2018/19 season. Kleiman was subsequently promoted following a team re-structuring that moved Wallace to a scouting role.

This award could be honoring Kleiman’s long-term rebuilding with Memphis, as he reshaped the roster from one supporting aging stars Marc Gasol and Mike Conley to this new, deep club full of youth and promise around Morant.

Kleiman traded for the draft rights to No. 30 pick Desmond Bane in 2020, who finished fifth this season in Most Improved Player voting behind Morant. He also sagely opted to ink wing Dillon Brooks and big man Jaren Jackson Jr. to lucrative contract extensions during his tenure as front office head. Ahead of the 2021 season, Kleiman traded for center Steven Adams and the rights to rookie Ziaire Williams, the No. 10 pick in the 2021 draft.

Memphis currently trails the Warriors 3-2 in its Conference Semifinals series.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.

Nikola Jokic Repeats As Most Valuable Player

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic has won his second straight Most Valuable Player Award, topping the SixersJoel Embiid and the BucksGiannis Antetokounmpo by a comfortable margin, the NBA announced in a press release.

Jokic received 65 first-place votes and 875 total points, putting him well ahead of Embiid, who finished second with 26 first-place votes and 706 points. Antetokounmpo came in third with nine first-place votes and 595 points.

Nobody else received a first-place vote, but Suns guard Devin Booker was fourth with 216 points and Mavericks guard Luka Doncic was fifth at 146 points. With 100 total voters, the balloting system awarded 10 points for a first-place vote, seven points for second, five points for third, three points for fourth and one point for fifth.

Other players receiving votes were the Celtics‘ Jayson Tatum (43 points), the GrizzliesJa Morant (10), the Warriors‘ Stephen Curry (4), the SunsChris Paul (2), the BullsDeMar DeRozan (1), the LakersLeBron James (1) and the NetsKevin Durant (1).

Jokic is the 13th player to win MVP honors in back-to-back seasons. He averaged 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds and 7.9 assists in 74 games and helped the Nuggets earn the sixth seed in the West despite the absence of Jamal Murray and  Michael Porter Jr. Jokic was named Western Conference Player of the Month twice this season and reached the All-Star Game for the fourth straight year.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported on Monday that Jokic would win the award.

Nikola Jokic To Win Second Straight MVP Award

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic has been named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player for the second consecutive season, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Sources told Woj that a formal announcement will be made later this week.

Jokic turned in better numbers in 2021/22 than he did last season, averaging 27.1 points and 13.8 rebounds per game, both career bests. He also ranked eighth in the league at 7.9 assists per game. ESPN notes that he became the first player to ever reach 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 500 assists in the same season.

Jokic’s outstanding performance helped Denver remain competitive with Jamal Murray missing the entire season due to a torn ACL and Michael Porter Jr. playing just nine games before undergoing back surgery. Denver managed to post a 48-34 record and grabbed the sixth seed in the West.

The 27-year-old center is the 13th player in history to claim back-to-back MVP honors. Next season he will try to join Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell on an elite list of players to win the award three years in a row.

Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo and Sixers center Joel Embiid were the other finalists in this year’s MVP voting.

Heat’s Tyler Herro Named Sixth Man Of The Year

Heat reserve guard Tyler Herro, currently lighting it up in the postseason for Miami, has won the NBA’s 2021/22 Sixth Man of the Year award, the league announced in a press release.

As Michael Scotto of HoopsHype tweets, Herro is the first Heat player to win the award and just the fifth player in league history to average 20+ points coming off the bench.

Last month, the third-year shooting guard was announced as a finalist for the honor, along with Cavaliers big man Kevin Love and Suns forward Cameron Johnson.

The NBA released a full breakdown of votes cast by a panel of 100 broadcasters and sportswriters (Twitter link). Herro received 96 first-place votes, two second-place votes, and two third-place votes. Love finished second, with Johnson in third. The 2020/21 Sixth Man of the Year, Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson, placed fourth in voting, while Clippers wing Luke Kennard rounded out the top five. Eight other players received at least one vote.

Across 66 games this year, Herro averaged 20.7 PPG, 5.0 RPG and 4.0 APG for Miami, who finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference at 53-29. The 6’5″ wing had shooting splits of .447/.399/.868. Still just 22, Herro is eligible for a contract extension this summer. This hardware could certainly help his case at the bargaining table.

“It means a lot,” Herro told Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. “I accepted the sixth man role [at the beginning of the year] for a reason. I wanted to be the best sixth man in the league.”

“I just realized what this team was built for,” Herro added. “It was built for a championship. When you look at our roster, if I was our coach, I would probably bring myself off the bench, too. Just looking at what we have on the team, if it makes sense to bring either me or Jimmy [Butler] off the bench, obviously it’s going to be me. We’ve got to bring one of our main scorers off the bench. And I understand that.”

Love announced his support for Herro in a tweet following the announcement. “Everyone who knows me knows I love Tyler Herro’s game (and swag) – much respect on an incredible [Sixth Man of the Year] campaign,” the former five-time All-Star wrote, in part.

Jrue Holiday Named Teammate Of The Year

Bucks guard Jrue Holiday has been named the NBA’s Teammate of the Year for the 2021/22 season, the league announced today in a press release.

The Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year award, introduced in 2012/13, is voted on by NBA players after a panel of league executives selects 12 finalists (six from each conference). A total of 306 players submitted ballots this season.

The winner is deemed to be the best teammate based on his “selfless play, on- and off-court leadership as a mentor and role model to other NBA players, and commitment and dedication to team.”

As we relayed last month, Holiday, DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, Jeff Green, Udonis Haslem, Andre Iguodala, Jaren Jackson Jr., Kevin Love, Boban Marjanovic, Chris Paul, Fred VanVleet, and Grant Williams were this year’s nominees.

Holiday received 39 first-place votes and 964 total points, narrowly edging out Marjanovic, who got 48 first-place votes but just 936 total points. DeRozan, Green, and Paul rounded out the top five.

It’s the second time Holiday has won the award, making him the first player to earn the honor more than once — he first won it in 2020 when he was a Pelican.

Holiday, 31, averaged 18.3 PPG, 6.8 APG, and 4.5 RPG on .501/.411/.761 shooting in 67 games (32.9 MPG) for the Bucks this season. He’s also a strong candidate to earn an All-Defensive nod this spring.

Ja Morant Wins Most Improved Player Award

Grizzlies guard Ja Morant has been named the NBA’s Most Improved Player, according to a league press release.

Morant is the first Memphis player to win the award. He received 221 points (38 first-place votes) from a panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters. Spurs guard Dejounte Murray finished in second place with 183 points (20 first-place votes).

Cavaliers guard Darius Garland wound up in third place with 11 first-place votes and 178 points, followed by the Warriors Jordan Poole (15 first-place votes, 131 points) in fourth.

There were a wide range of legitimate MIP candidates this season, with no less than seven players receiving at least three first-place votes. Morant’s teammate Desmond Bane, Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey, and Hornets forward Miles Bridges rounded out the top seven vote-getters.

A first-time All-Star, Morant averaged 27.4 PPG, 6.7 APG and 5.7 RPG in 33.1 MPG in 57 games to lead Memphis to the Western Conference’s second-best record. He had an 8.3-point increase in scoring and 4.3 percent improvement in field goal percentage from last season. Morant was the Rookie of the Year two seasons ago.

Anfernee Simons, Robert Williams, Jaren Jackson, Jalen Brunson, and Max Strus also each received at least one second- and/or third-place vote. The full results can be found here.