2017 Awards Watch
COACH OF THE YEAR
After last season, the Houston Rockets appeared to be heading in the wrong direction, after barely making the playoffs and losing one of their top players in Dwight Howard. However, Mike D’Antoni took over as coach and employed a system that helped the Rockets shoot up and join the elites in the Western Conference. One of D’Antoni’s big first moves, was allowing James Harden to play point guard full time. Previously a swing man this helped open up Harden’s game and give a tremendous boost o the Rockets offense as they hit a record three pointers as a team.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
In a season in which there was not a great rookie class, the rookie of the year goes to a player that waited two years to make his debut and only played in 31 games. However, when Joel Embiid was on the court he made a difference, averaging 20.2 points per game in 25.4 minutes. When he was on the floor, Joel Embiid helped the 76ers play competitive basketball as he proved to be a force in the paint, averaging 7.8 rebound per game. Embiid was the only rookie to have numbers close to this exceptional level.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
One of the biggest surprises this season was the Utah Jazz winning the Northwest Division, while posting a record of 51-31. The key to the Jazz success, was defense as they allowed the fewest points in the league at 96.8 points per game. The big reason for the Jazz allowing the fewest points was their man in the middle Rudy Gobert, who led the NBA in blocked shots, averaging 2.7 per game. Gobert was especially good at shutting down points in the paint as players just 55.8 in the restricted area when he was guarding them.
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER
It was a breakout season for the Greek Freak, who beak a star for the Milwaukee Bucks. In his fourth season in the NBA, Giannis Antetokounmpo increased his stats in every category, scoring 22.9, points per game, which improved his career best by more than six points per game. Antetokounmpo also increased his player efficiency rating from 19.0 to 26.2. Giannis Antetokounmpo also became the first player in league history to rank in the top 20 in total points, rebounds (8.8 rpg), assists (5.4 apg), steals (1.6 spg) and blocks (1.9 bpg).
6th MAN AWARD
Golden State Warriors
On a team full of stars, often it is Andre Iguodala, the sparkplug off the bench that makes the big plays when the game is on the line for the Golden State Warriors. Iguodala is a complete player off the bench, providing strong defense and rebounding. While the raw stats, may not blow you away with Andre Iguodala a closer look shows just how valuable he is to Golden State. When Kevin Durant got injured, Iguodala logged his most important minutes as the Warriors averaged +11.6 points per game when he was on the floor.
Oklahoma City Thunder
It was one of those great accomplishments you heard of, but never imagined it would happen again. However, Russell Westbrook became the first player in 55 years to averaging a Triple Double, even breaking Oscar Robertson’s record by posting 42 Triple Doubles as he averaged a league best 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game. Westbrook not only played in nearly every game, but he logged nearly 35 minutes per game which was necessary after OKC lost Kevin Durant, as Westbrook single handily carried them to a 47 win season.