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The 2021 NBA season is set to tip off tomorrow. This season may be starting later than usual but for all hoop-heads, this is like Christmas come early. And we here at The 3 Point Conversion are definitely getting into the holiday spirit.
It just wouldn’t be a 3 Point Conversion team-up article (we like to call them “Voltrons”) if we weren’t doing some WAY too early predictions. In the spirit of giving, we’re handing out some preemptive hardware. Namely, the NBA individual awards.
So let’s look ahead and guess who will win Coach Of The Year, Most Improved Player, Sixth Man Of The Year, Rookie Of The Year, Defensive Player Of The Year, and of course, MVP.
Happy Holidays everyone!
Coach of the Year – Eric Spoelstra, Miami Heat
Spoelstra may be the most under-appreciated coach in the NBA. Not currently, all-time. His career winning percentage is .591, which is 31st in NBA history. Out of 332 eligible coaches, Spoelstra ranks in the top ten percent in the history of the league.
So why is he underrated? Well, early in his career he was gifted with LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. Having that level of talent meant people discredited Spoelstra’s contributions. That mentality should change after he lead the Heat to the Finals last season, the fifth time he’s accomplished that feat in just 12 seasons as Head Coach. Except this time, a lot of that was accomplished by players Spoelstra developed, like Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson.
Those players will continue to develop this season and Miami is hoping to get back to the Finals and finish the job. Whether they pull that off or not is irrelevant, the point is, Spoelstra will finally get the credit he deserves. Since the start of his tenure, he’s developed a brand of Miami Heat basketball: they come at you in waves, they play for each other, and they’re tough as nails. And that’s because of the culture Spoelstra has developed in South Beach. – Alex Bab
Raphael Haynes – Doc Rivers, Philadelphia 76ers
Carita Parks – Steve Nash, Brooklyn Nets
Courtlandt Griffin – Frank Vogel, Los Angeles Lakers
Danny Thompson – Monty Williams, Phoenix Suns
Mike Patton – Lloyd Pierce, Atlanta Hawks
Most Improved Player – Bogdan Bogdanovic, Atlanta Hawks
“Bogi” is the newest Hawk and running mate in the backcourt with Trae Young. Last season Bogdanovic had totals of 15.1 points, 3.4 assists and 3.4 rebounds in a limited role. Now the projected starter, he should see a rise in his numbers. He is an above average shooter from deep (38%) and will see more open looks with Young, Danillo Gallinari, and the plethora of floor spacers in Atlanta around him.
Bogdanovic’s well rounded offensive skill set will also allow him to run some point at times. He is also a capable defender and with Trae Young having to improve on that end, he could see more action guarding smaller guards, which will up his defensive rating. Expect the Hawks to explode and with them Bogdanovic’s numbers. – Courtlandt Griffin
Raphael Haynes – Miles Bridges, Charlotte Hornets
Alex Bab – Lonzo Ball, New Orleans Pelicans
Carita Parks – Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans
Danny Thompson – Michael Porter Jr., Denver Nuggets
Mike Patton – OG Anunoby, Toronto Raptors
Sixth Man of the Year – Tyler Herro, Miami Heat
Last season, Miami rookie guard Tyler Herro stepped on the national stage and became a household name, as the Heat made the NBA Finals. After scoring in double figures in every game he played as a reserve in the playoffs, he has now become one of the best young players in the league and my choice for the 2020-21 NBA Sixth Man of the Year award.
Because Herro can play both guard spots, he can not only play next to Goran Dragic, but has the ability to provide him some additional rest. With two of the candidates (Montrezl Harrell and Dennis Schroder) splitting votes in Los Angeles and with very little time for some of the other candidates (Danilo Gallinari and Seth Curry) to get acclimated to new teams, Herro’s already big role as the sixth man gives him a huge advantage. -Danny Thompson
Raphael Haynes – Montrezl Harrell, Los Angeles Lakers
Alex Bab – Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn Nets
Carita Parks – Caris LeVert, Brooklyn Nets
Courtlandt Griffin – Carmelo Anthony, Portland Trail Blazers
Mike Patton – Lou Williams, Los Angeles Clippers
Rookie of the Year – LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets
With the influx of new talent in the NBA, there are plenty rookies that could be the Rookie of the Year. Talented players like James Wiseman and Anthony Edwards will be looked at by many fans of the game as the people to watch, but the guy that has all the electricity around him heading into this season is Charlotte Hornets’ guard LaMelo Ball.
The youngest of the three Ball brothers was selected third overall by the Hornets and immediately, people were drawn to him and with good reason. Plenty get lost in the hyperbolic talk of his father, Lavar Ball, but LaMelo needs none of that.
You can look for him to score some points, but the most electric thing you will see from him will be his ability to dish the basketball as well as his craftiness to finish around the rim, standing at 6’7″. While many may get caught up in the points other rookies may put up, take a look at Ball and his ability to make the game easy for his teammates with pinpoint passes and it is easy to see who is the Rookie of the Year for the 2020-2021 season. – Mike Patton
Raphael Haynes – LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets
Alex Bab – LaMelo Ball – Charlotte Hornets
Carita Parks – James Wiseman, Golden State Warriors
Courtlandt Griffin – LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets
Danny Thompson – LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets
Defensive Player of the Year – Clint Capela, Atlanta Hawks
Usually, when you think Defensive Payer of the Year, it’s a 6’10”-plus guy winning it, and that will be the case again. Atlanta Hawks’ center Clint Capela will win this award after seeming to be healthy and rejuvenated this year.
He’s on a team that is now preaching and teaching defense, which is contrary to what the Houston Rockets’ philosophy was. Capela has that unique balance of strength and being able to move his feet. He’s one of, if not the quickest big man in the game, and has the ability to recover.
Blocking shots goes along way but maneuvering attempts is just as good. With Trae Young still trying to get better at defense, this will give Capela ample opportunities at defending the rim, which should showcase his defensive prowess. Also expect him to get a lot of steals due to his great hands. – Raphael Haynes
Alex Bab – Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers
Carita Parks – Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers
Courtlandt Griffin – Dejounte Murray, San Antonio Spurs
Danny Thompson – Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
Mike Patton – Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers
Most Valuable Player – Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
It will be a tall task for Giannis Antetokounmpo to win his third straight MVP award, but after inking a four-year $100,000,000 deal with the Milwaukee Bucks, it won’t be an impossible feat.
Last season, Antetokounmpo averaged 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.04 steals and 1.02 blocks in 57 games. During that time, he ranked third in the NBA in both scoring average and rebounding average. Antetokounmpo also shot 54.7 percent from the field and sank 83 three-pointers, which is 31 more threes than he made in any of his previous six seasons.
There is no reason to believe that Antetokoumpo won’t build upon his success in the upcoming season. Although the Eastern Conference is wide open, the Bucks have been in the playoffs the past four years with him leading the way. Each year he also continues to grow as player.
Now that his future is secure with the Bucks, it’s quite possible that he will be an even better version of himself during the 2020-21 season. Subsequently leading to another MVP recognition in three consecutive years, making him the fourth player to do so alongside Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and Larry Bird. – Carita Parks
Raphael Haynes – Russell Westbrook, Washington Wizards
Alex Bab – LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
Courtlandt Griffin – LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
Danny Thompson – Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Mike Patton – LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers