Of course, this might be stating the obvious, but winning a championship is the main goal of every player that ever wore an NBA jersey. While few players focus on being honored for one's individual success, these personal achievements can be very rewarding as well. Awards such as the most valuable player or defensive player of the year are some very prestigious titles that only a few of the greatest have ever earned. Let us take a look into our NBA crystal ball, and see which player will be bringing home this year's regular season awards.
In this article, we will be predicting each winner of the five possible regular season player awards. This will include the Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Most Improved Player award, and the Sixth Man of the Year. The award announcements are an exciting time in the NBA, and hopefully this gives you an idea of how the regular season will play out.
As always, feel free to leave any comments you have on these predictions, as we would love to hear your thoughts on this matter.
Here are my predictions for the NBA's 2016-17 regular season award winners.
15 Most Improved Player Honorable Mention: Harrison Barnes
Projected Stats: 19.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.1 spg, .8 bpg
While Harrison Barnes most likely will not win an NBA championship this year, regarding his individual success, he may be in the best position he's been in since entering the league four years ago. Barnes was a dominant scorer in college, but he has always been overshadowed by Warriors' stars like Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. This offseason, Barnes signed with the Dallas Mavericks, and he will be one of the team's best players moving forward. The Mavericks' former small forward, Chandler Parsons signed with the Grizzlies, which will open up a lot of minutes for Barnes to contribute. Also getting some serious experience from being a member of the Olympic team, Barnes will put his disappointing finals' performance far behind him. Expect Barnes to have his best season to date, possibly even winning the Most Improved Player award.
14 MIP Honorable Mention: Hassan Whiteside
Projected Stats: 18.9 ppg, 13.4 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0.8 spg, 3.9 bpg
Hassan Whiteside is already one of the best centers in the league, but he still has the potential to improve his game enough to put him in the running for the Most Improved Player award. With Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng leaving the team and Chris Bosh most likely being sidelined due to lung problems, Hassan Whiteside is the only star left on the team, and his stats will show it this year. He's extremely athletic for how big he is, and we have seen him put up some crazy stat-sheets throughout his recent stardom. He will be a double-double machine this season, and he will build onto his already successful campaign last year. Even though the Heat may not be a title contender anymore, Hassan Whiteside will have his best season to date, and may even be recognized for it by winning the Most Improved Player award.
13 MIP Winner: Dennis Schroder
Projected Stats: 17.6 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 6.8 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.2 bpg
With Jeff Teague parting ways with the Hawks this offseason, Dennis Schroder is the new starting point-guard for the squad, and we will see his minutes heavily increased which will give him the opportunity to prove himself. Schroder has always been an effective player off of the bench, but this season will be his year to shine as one of the best players on the Hawks. Schroder is a dynamic scorer and a solid play-maker, and Atlanta will be dependent on Schroder's play if they want to win any games this season. His stats will rise in all categories, and Schroder will transform from a young prospect to a premier point-guard very quickly.
The Hawks have finally given Schroder the keys to the team, and he will be awarded for his talent with the Most Improved Player award at the end of this season.
12 Sixth Man Honorable Mention - Jamal Crawford
Projected Stats: 13.6 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 2.0 apg, .8 spg, .1 bpg
There is really no way you can discuss the Sixth Man of the Year award without bringing Jamal Crawford into the conversation. Crawford is a record leading three-time winner, and his role with the Clippers this season will not change much, which means Jamal will be one of the front-runners for Sixth Man of the Year. Crawford is the definition of a spark off the bench, and his scoring for the Clippers is very valuable to the team. His dribbling ability and range from deep is extremely effective, and Crawford's play could garner him his fourth Sixth Man of the Year award when the season is over. Crawford is one of the league's greatest bench players of all time, and there is no doubt in my mind Jamal Crawford will be one of the league's best sixth men throughout the NBA season.
11 Sixth Man Honorable Mention - Lou Williams
Projected Stats: 16.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.9 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.2 bpg
Lou Williams has a similar style of play to Jamal Crawford, so it is definitely not a surprise that Lou is considered one of the league's best sixth men. Winning the award just two seasons ago with the Raptors, Williams knows what it takes to be the best sixth man in the league, and his role with the Lakers is perfect for him to shine off the bench. With Kobe gone, it opens up some more space for Williams to score, and he will need to provide some serious consistency considering the Lakers will be relying on their youth a lot this season. A great scorer with good range, Williams is a proven NBA scorer. Coming off the bench behind D'Angelo Russell will allow Williams to shine with the second-team, and he could even take home his second Sixth Man of the Year award.
10 Sixth Man of the Year Winner - Enes Kanter
Projected Stats: 17.4 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 0.9 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.7 bpg
Statistically, Enes Kanter is one of the most effective big men in the NBA, and with Kevin Durant out of the picture, Kanter will attain a bigger role from the Thunder this season. While most likely still coming off the bench behind Steven Adams, Kanter will be getting a good amount of minutes to contribute, and expect him to have his best season to date. Last year, Kanter averaged 21.7 ppg and 13.9 rpg per 36 minutes, and finished with the 10th best PER % in the league. Kanter will be one of the Thunder's best options when looking to score this season, and Kanter will be the best bench player in the entire association next season. Winning the Sixth Man of the Year award next year, Kanter will have his first NBA award to his name since being drafted in 2011.
9 Rookie of the Year Honorable Mention - Kris Dunn
Projected Stats: 11.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 4.5 apg, 1.6 spg, 0.5 bpg
Kris Dunn was the best point guard picked in this year's draft. The Timberwolves lineup is probably the best situation for Dunn's talents to progress to the next level. A young team with a fast pace, Dunn will thrive in the Wolves' backcourt, and he will have one of the league's best rookie years this season. While he may come off the bench behind Ricky Rubio, Dunn will get his minutes to develop this season because he will most likely be the Timberwolves' franchise point-guard for years and years to come. Kriss' showing at the NBA Summer League a few weeks ago was very impressive, and I expect him to have no trouble adjusting to the speed of the NBA. Dunn may have to earn his minutes a little more than players like Ben Simmons, but he will still be one of the league's most valuable rookies throughout this season.
8 Rookie of the Year Honorable Mention - Brandon Ingram
Projected Stats: 14.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 3.2 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.7 bpg
While Brandon Ingram is no Kevin Durant just yet, Ingram will show flashes of greatness this year, ultimately becoming one of the front-runners for Rookie of the Year. The Lakers are rebuilding right now, which means Ingram will be getting a lot of minutes this season to show what he's got and will likely not disappoint. Ingram may not yet have the strength to dominate the league, but his lanky frame and ability to score effortlessly is what will set him apart from other players night-in and night-out. It may take some time for Ingram to adjust to the NBA play style, but once he is comfortable in his new system with the Lakers, Ingram will be very dangerous. The 2nd pick in this year's draft will not disappoint, and the Lakers have a Rookie of the Year candidate in Brandon Ingram.
7 Rookie of the Year Winner - Ben Simmons
Projected Stats: 13.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 6.2 apg, 1.2 spg, 1.0 bpg
Ben Simmons has all the tools needed to be an NBA superstar, and I believe he will shine early and often with the Philadelphia 76ers this year. While his jumpshot still needs a lot of work, Simmons is an excellent passer and a solid rebounder, and he will definitely flirt with his fair share of triple-doubles this season. The Sixers will be much improved this season, and a lot of that will have to do with the play of Ben Simmons, as he is already one of the most talented players on this young team. Winning the Rookie of the Year is a sign of good things to come, and I believe the honor will be bestowed upon Simmons, who could be one of the greatest players of all-time when it's all said and done. You can hold me to that.
6 Defensive Player Honorable Mention - Kawhi Leonard
Projected Stats: 22.4 pp, 7.1 rpg, 3.4 apg, 2.2 spg, 1.3 bpg
Kawhi Leonard is already a two-time Defensive Player of the Year winner, and he will be one of the front-runners for the award once again this season. His defensive instinct and giant hands lead to a lot of steals for Leonard, and with Tim Duncan retired, Kawhi will need to carry a heavier load this season if the Spurs are going to compete for the title. Leonard is the type of defensive force you can lock on to the best players in the league, as he will frustrate even the best offensive scorers. The talent that Kawhi Leonard has on the defensive end of the game seems to be unmatched at times, and I expect him to have another very successful season as one of the best defenders in the league and a definite contender for the Defensive Player of the Year Award.
5 Defensive Player Honorable Mention - Andre Drummond
Projected Stats: 18.2 ppg, 15.2 rpg, 1.6 spg, 2.1 bpg
Andre Drummond had a breakout season last year as he quickly established himself as one of the best centers in the league, and I expect him to build on the progress he made last year. A powerful inside scorer and a dominant rebounder, Drummond has blocked a ton of shots in the paint, as he is a high flyer that can send the ball the other way very quickly. He is adept at getting steals for a man of his size, and he can really stuff the stat-sheet on any given night. The Pistons have a premier center in Andre Drummond, and I expect him to have his best season to date, especially on the defensive side. Having never won the award, Drummond could end up winning his first Defensive Player of the Year award, as he is no doubt one of the best defensive bigs in all of the NBA.
4 Defensive Player of the Year Winner - Hassan Whiteside
Projected Stats: 18.9 ppg, 13.4 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0.8 spg, 3.8 bpg
Hassan Whiteside is the definition of a great defensive player, and I expect his defensive expertise to be awarded with the Defensive Player of the Year. As I said before, due to the Heat most likely starting their rebuild, Whiteside will be carrying a much heavier load than he has in recent years, and this will lead to his stats rising significantly. We've certainly seen it before, and I would not be surprised if we see Whiteside tally up double digit blocks a few times over the course of the season. His athletic ability and sense of where the ball is going to be is what gives him the edge over other great defenders. With a whopping average of almost four blocks a game, Hasssan Whiteside will bring home his first well deserved Defensive Player of the Year award.
3 MVP Honorable Mention - Damian Lillard
Projected Stats: 27.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 7.1 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.3 bpg
Damian Lillard has never really been considered a serious contender for the Most Valuable Player award, but I believe this season will be his best to date, which will ultimately lead to him getting some MVP votes. Damian is incredibly valuable to the Trail Blazers, and without him, there is no doubt Portland would be one of the worst teams in the league. A clutch player with a great offensive game, Damian Lillard has become one of the best players in the league. Establishing himself as one of the best three-point shooters in the game, Lillard knocks down clutch threes night after night. Damian will carry the load for the Blazers this season.
If he proves to be an effective leader, it will result in a lot of Trail Blazer wins. Lillard definitely won't be snubbed as an all-star again this season, as he will be recognized as the MVP caliber player he really is.
2 MVP Honorable Mention - Russell Westbrook
Projected Stats: 28.7 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 9.3 apg, 2.3 spg, 0.4 bpg
I am so excited to see how Russell Westbrook's game will respond to Kevin Durant's departure, and even though he wll not win as many games this season, his stats will definitely benefit from the recent roster change. An aggressive scorer with a great pull up jumpshot, Westbrook can score a lot of points in a short amount of time. Add his passing, rebounding, and defensive ability to his scoring and you have yourself an MVP candidate. Westbrook is no doubt one of the best players in the league, and this season will most likely be his best to date, which will reflect in his stats. Westbrook is going to get a healthy amount of triple doubles this season, and his new role as the prime leader of the Oklahoma City Thunder will garner Westbrook some MVP votes for sure.
1 Most Valuable Player Winner - LeBron James
Projected Stats: 26.4 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 7.1 apg, 1.6 spg, 0.9 bpg
I doubt there is room for a lot of debate on this one. Fresh off his historic series win against the Golden State Warriors in this year's finals, LeBron James will be hungry for more, and for the 5th time in his NBA career, he will be the Most Valuable Player. Already one of the greatest players of all time, LeBron James can do it all on the basketball court, which is clearly reflected in his stats. His teams are always one of the top teams in the league, and when it comes down to it, no other NBA player has ever been as valuable to their team asLeBron James.
Even at 31 years old, LeBron shows no signs of slowing down. Expect to find the Cavaliers at the top of the Eastern Conference again this year, with LeBron James at the helm, leading his team like he always does.