With the NBA season in full swing, it seems like an appropriate time for me come from out of the shadows and give a few thoughts and predictions after the first two weeks. There have been a few surprises so far in terms of both individual and team success. The league has also gone full throttle when it comes to offense. Less calls from officials and a faster pace has made final scores look outrageous so far. Whether that is a good thing or not is up to the basketball fan in you (I prefer my basketball with defense, but I’m not kicking and screaming about it). It’s way too early for predictions but when has that ever stopped me? Here’s what I like to call Annoyingly Early NBA Predictions!
Most Improved Player of the Year: Brandon Ingram
At this point, it’s safe to say that Brandon Ingram’s season hasn’t started on the right hook, er, step. Even before the Rockets game scuffle, Ingram wasn’t nearly as efficient or explosive scoring the ball as one would expect considering playing with Lebron. However, I’m still on board with Ingram having a breakout season. He’s still working on getting his own shot so in the interim, Lebron can set him up for easy shots. Think of how John Wall sets up Otto Porter. In addition, his defense should be improved and his rebounding and play-making could make big strides as well.
Honorable Mention: Nikola Mirotic, Zach Lavine
Defensive Player of the Year: Kawhi Leonard
First off, team defense isn’t even a thing as of today. However, it is easy to pinpoint the moment I decided to give Kawhi my early vote. I watched Kawhil get a steal without even looking. A player did a backdoor cut and Kawhi literally dove to get the steal without ever seeing the pass. His defensive instincts are on a completely different level. The pick is boring, but these predictions are barely based on charisma and personality.
Honorable Mention: Anthony Davis, Rudy Gobert
Sixth Man of the Year: Julius Randle
As I look over this current Lakers team, I see that we really could use a versatile big man that can bring intensity on the defensive end. The sad part is that the Lakers had it in Randle. He has been playing well for his new team of New Orleans, showing an ability to not only score efficiently but also shoot the 3. He brings it every single night on defense and all this while coming off the bench.
Honorable Mention: Derrick Rose, JJ Redick
Coach of the Year: Dwayne Casey
No one was even talking about the Detroit Pistons coming into this season. They weren’t seen as viable contenders, let alone being talked about being a playoff team. But Dwayne Casey has this team of misfits playing very good basketball. Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond have been playing well, particularly Griffin who looks like a MVP candidate (you’ll see his name below). They’ve gotten solid guard play and Casey have them winning games late (their win against the Sixers was particularly good.) Normally I vote for Brad Stevens because he definitely has deserved the award for the past two years but because his team is the clear cut favorite out of the East, I’m afraid he isn’t going to get the votes this year.
Honorable Mention: Brad Stevens, Mike Malone
Rookie of the Year: Luka Doncic
There were many who didn’t want to believe the hype; you know the ones. They think that only the NBA has competition of any kind so who cares that his kid is winning championships and MVPs. They don’t mean anything. Well, seeing that this kid is averaging nearly 20 points a game, six rebounds and nearly 4 assists again, it’s hard to leave him out of the conversation. The Mavericks are competitive early in the season and if he can get them in the playoffs in the tough Western Conference, you can go ahead and cancel this race now.
Honorable Mention: Trae Young, Deandre Ayton
MVP: Steph Curry
Let me get this out of the way now: I want Anthony Davis to win it. He’s my favorite player in the league and he’s had MVP numbers for years but just hasn’t had the team success and/or has been injured too often. This is probably the best year for him to get it. Blake Griffin has also been playing out of his mind lately, almost as if he heard everyone saying he was washed up. But Steph Curry has been playing at an elite level. On the contrary, I haven’t witnessed Steph at this level since before Kevin Durant showed up. His 51 point performance in 3 quarters reminded me why he’s the only unanimous MVP in league history. In a league where players get scorching hot (Damian Lillard, Devon Booker—hell Steph’s got two teammates in Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant who can go off at any second), there isn’t a player who can spark such a devastating barrage of points like Steph can, all while maintaining this babyface smile. Steph could very well be on the path to his third MVP.
Honorable Mention: Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin
2019 NBA Champs: Golden State Warriors
Someone will have to convince me otherwise to change where I stand with this one. Philly is looking like they are going to be up and down this year. Toronto actually looks like a viable option but until I see it in the playoffs, I’m not buying. Boston, who many believe to be the odds-on favorite to come out the East, haven’t looked as dominating as they should and that could be because of so many parts to the puzzle. Out in the West, the Rockets look like they’ve taken a step back, although they’ve rarely been at full strength so far. OKC, fresh off keeping Paul George, haven’t won a game as of me writing this. Denver will be relatively new to the playoffs—many of those players haven’t experienced playoff basketball and should be put on upset alert if they make it. And sorry - objectively speaking here - the Lakers aren’t beating the Warriors, no matter how much we want them too with Lebron James as the new leader. So yeah…Warriors. Again.
Honorable Mention: The alternate universe in which the Warriors have been expelled from the league.