Predictions for 2020-2021 NBA Awards

May 4, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) drives on New Orleans Pelicans forwards Naji Marshall (8) and James Johnson (16) in the second quarter at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

As the 2020-2021 NBA season is wrapping up on May 22, we get to see who deserves the award. Unfortunately, even though the quality of basketball has been high, injuries are starting to dominate the news. It would not only provide a heated competition for the playoffs in each conference but would spark up so much controversy as to who would win the award. Nonetheless, as the season comes to an end, here are the predictions for the 2020-2021 NBA Awards.


Apr 22, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Los Angeles Lakers injured forward LeBron James (23) yells during the fourth quarter against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Before we get into our predictions, I want to point out the criteria and how I list each player. I keep it very simple. First, I look at individual stats and achievements from this season. Second, I look at team success and overall impact on the team. Also, the player must not endure any significant injuries which will cause them to fall out of the award race.

Rookie of the Year: Lamelo Ball

Mar 20, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (2) is defended by Los Angeles Clippers guard Reggie Jackson (1) as he drives to the basket in the first quarter of the game at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

We begin our predictions for the 2020-2021 NBA Awards with Rookie of the Year. Yes, I believe LaMelo Ball can still win the ROTY award. Although only playing 42 games this season, he’s averaging around 15.8 PPG. In addition, he is second in points, rebounds, and first in steals and assists amongst all rookies.

“Oh yeah,” an Eastern Conference scout told CBS Sports. “It’s a done deal, in my view. Even if Anthony Edwards finishes with better stats or better scoring stats, I should say, LaMelo was actually impacting winning. That’s the difference to me.

CBS Sports

He brings positive energy to the offense, whom he shares with his older brother, Lonzo. Over six weeks as a starter, Ball had 46 more assists and nine more steals than anyone else on the squad, and his 409 total points were just five points behind team leader Terry Rozier. When Ball got injured, the Hornets were ranked seventh in the East, but they have since risen to fourth heading into Friday’s game.

Once again, the taste LaMelo left in everyone’s mouth was too good. He covers every aspect of the argument. He owns the winning component of the debate, and while Edwards is likely to maintain the rookie scoring title, Ball’s pre-injury numbers were off the charts in their own right.

Sixth Man of the Year: Jordan Clarkson

May 1, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson (00) goes for the dunk in the first quarter against Toronto Raptors forward Yuta Watanabe (18) and forward Freddie Gillespie (55) at Vivint Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

These selections are easily a lock, in my opinion. Jordan Clarkson has been having a fantastic year with the Utah Jazz. He has been an essential piece for Jazz. Any list of top Sixth Man of the Year candidates this season must include Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson, who is the overwhelming favorite to win the award, and with good reason. Clarkson is a big reason why the Jazz has been the league’s best team for almost the entire season, as he offers a big scoring spark off the bench

�If we�re winning games and we�re doing that, I�ll be rewarded for that.� �I feel like this is that time and that moment where I�ve impacted the game.�

Jordan Clarkson

Clarkson is a big reason why the Jazz has been the league’s best team for almost the entire season, as he offers a big scoring spark off the bench. He’s currently averaging a career-high in points with 17.3. Clarkson is also averaging a career-high four rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. Clarkson is also shooting a career-high 92 percent from the foul line this season, so the Jazz is comfortable putting the ball in his hands down the stretch. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more impactful player off the bench this season than Clarkson

Most Improved Player: Julius Randle

Apr 12, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Actor and director Spike Lee (l) and New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

For sure, a lock, no doubt in my mind Julius Randle not should, but WILL win MIP. Randle has been highly impressive and has managed to enter the MVP discussion of late as well. So much has to do with him leading the Knicks towards a playoff berth for the first time since the 2013-14 season. Asked about the recent MVP talk, Randle said::

�For sure, I�m not going to shy away from it. For me, it�s about getting better from game to game, improving as a player. I�m not focused on it. The praise obviously is great and everything, but I�m not focused on it. All I�m worried about is getting better. Keep leading the team game to game. Our team, I feel like we can compete against anybody.�

Julius Randle

Randle has improved throughout every significant category in the NBA and has developed his game on both ends of the floor. His three-point shooting, in particular, has improved significantly. Randle’s previous best was 34.4 percent in the 2018-19 NBA season. Now, he’s shooting at 42.1 percent while attempting a career-high 5.3 from long range.

Defensive Player of the Year: Rudy Gobert

May 3, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) tries to keep San Antonio Spurs center Jakob Poeltl (25) from scoring during the first quarter at Vivint Arena. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports
Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

It will be no surprise to see Rudy Gobert winning his 3rd award in the past four years. He’s been a defensive anchor this season. He’s second in the league in rebounds (13.4) and blocks (2.8). These are key indicators that he’s having a monster season, mainly when the Jazz are on the top.

�You see, his impact in so many different ways, transition defense maybe being the biggest one,� Snyder said. �Him being able to get back on defense just solidifies our defense to a whole other level.�

Coach Quinn Synder

It will be no secret that he will win the award. And while defensive rating, real defensive plus-minus, on-off numbers, and other even further advanced analytics do paint a pretty good picture of how impactful Gobert is, no stat correctly describes the ability to scare off opposing players.

Most Valuable Player: Nikola Jokic

April 12, 2021; San Francisco, California, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) shoots the basketball against Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) during the fourth quarter at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

These next predictions for 2020-2021 NBA Awards was a tough decision. I could of either went with Curry, Embid, and Giannis. I went with Jokic because of how his stats impact the team. The scoring list is the first place to search for the most obvious signs of M.V.P. candidacy. Jokic was ranked 11th in the NBA with 26.2 points per game entering Monday’s play. This represents an increase of 6.3 points per game over last season.

While many of his always-excellent stats � rebounds, steals, blocks, and turnovers � have remained relatively consistent, Jokic has improved his already-impressive passing game. He is now averaging 8.5 assists per game, up from 7 previously. Jokic�s assist numbers have swelled because of one of his trademarks, the long outlet pass, which has been likened to a pass in water polo, a game Jokic once played in his native Serbia.

“I never play basketball to win individual awards.” “So MVP is just something that the people and media are trying to make a story out of it. So, if it happens, it happens. I don’t play for that. Like I said, as long as we’re winning, I’m happy.” 

Nikola Jokic

This season, Jokic has appeared in every game. Many of the other frontrunners for MVP, including Joel Embiid, LeBron James, and James Harden, have lost considerable time� So you have to give someone credit for playing in every single game and putting up those numbers as well.

Coach of the Year: Monty Williams- Phoenix Suns

Apr 17, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams looks on against the San Antonio Spurs during the first half at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

As we wrap up the predictions for the 2020-2021 NBA Awards We added one more important award. Some would argue that the Suns’ rise to second place in the Western Conference is primarily due to the arrival of Chris Paul, which is partially right. But don’t forget how Williams’ 8-0 record in the NBA’s restart bubble last summer sowed the seeds for success this year.

That allowed the Suns to start thinking big, and Paul’s arrival allowed them to start winning big � but Williams is in control. For the first time since 2010, the Suns will compete in the playoffs. And the fact that they aren’t squeezing in should lend credibility to Williams’ argument.

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