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How Are Our Predictions Shaping Up?

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Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

It was just over a month ago that we here at Sonics Rising made our pre-season predictions. Well, believe it or not, we are about 20 games into the season, which means it's time for our quarter-season checkup. How are we doing so far? Let's find out.

Most Valuable Player
Staff Player PPG RPG ASG SPG BPG PIE
Mike Baker
LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
24.9 5.8 7.4 1.3 0.6 16.2
Taylor Bartle
Dontae Delgado
Chris Meirose
Kevin Nesgoda
Mitch Northam
Paul Rogers
Steve Stearns
Matt Tucker
Mile DeCaro

Before the season started, LeBron was our unanimous pick for MVP. Twenty games in, however, the choice isn't so clear. While he is still averaging nearly 25 points per game, it's actually his lowest since his rookie season. His field goal shooting percentage is down, as are his rebounds and steals. His assist numbers are up, but so are his turnovers. Worst of all, LeBron appears to take plays off on defense, and his leadership is already being brought into question. Despite his Cavs winning four in a row and LeBron winning eastern conference player of the week twice, Anthony Davis, Stephen Curry, or Marc Gasol would be better candidates right now.

Defensive Player of the Year
Staff Player SPG BPG RPG Def Rtg
Mike Baker
Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
2.1 0.4 4.0 105.2
Taylor Bartle
Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
2.3 3.1 11.3 103.1
Dontae Delgado
Chris Meirose
Kevin Nesgoda
Matt Tucker
Mitch Northam
DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers
1.0 2.4 11.6 101.7
Paul Rogers
Steve Stearns
Miles DeCaro
Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls
0.7 1.6 9.9 99.5

The majority of us voted for the Pelicans' Anthony Davis and right now that seems like a pretty strong bet. Davis leads the league in blocks and is fourth in steals. While he has a higher defensive rating than others (lower is better), that is mostly a product of his team's system. Surprisingly no one voted for Dwight Howard, who is third in the league in blocks (2.3). Another name that should be mentioned is Roy Hibbert, who is second in the league in blocks (2.8), and is holding opponents to a paltry 38.5% at the rim.

Sixth Man of the Year
Staff Player Min PPG RPG SPG BPG PIE
Mike Baker
Jamal Crawford, Los Angeles Clippers
27.8 17.7 1.8 1.1 0.1 13.4
Kevin Nesgoda
Matt Tucker
Taylor Bartle
Isaiah Thomas, Phoenix Suns
23.6 15.5 2.4 0.8 0.1 15.4
Dontae Delgado
Steve Stearns
Chris Meirose
Spencer Hawes, Los Angeles Clippers
17.8 6.8 4.8 0.2 0.8 11.1
Paul Rogers
Mitch Northam
Taj Gibson, Chicago Bulls
29.0 12.4 5.8 0.8 1.1 10.7
Miles DeCaro

While Crawford is leading the way in points per game, I still think IT is the front-runner for this award at this point. He is averaging more rebounds and assists, in less minutes, and is having a greater overall impact (PIE, or "Player Impact Estimate") on his team's success. One surprise candidate is Toronto's Lou Williams, who is averaging 14.2 points on 45% shooting with a PIE of 15.4, equal to that of Thomas. I would probably put him second right now, with Crawford a close third.

Rookie of the Year
Staff Player PPG RPG APG SPG BPG PIE
Mike Baker
Jabari Parker, Milwaukee Bucks
12.4 6.2 1.7 1.4 0.3 10.8
Taylor Bartle
Dontae Delgado
Chris Meirose
Paul Rogers
Steve Stearns
Matt Tucker
Kevin Nesgoda
Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves
11.8 3.6 1.1 1.1 0.4 -0.9
Mitch Northam
Elfrid Payton, Orlando Magic
6.6 3.5 5.0 1.4 0.2 8.1
Miles DeCaro
Julius Randle, Los Angeles Lakers
2.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 -24.2

At the beginning of the season, it looked like Mitch was going to be a prophet. Payton became only the third player in NBA history to have seven or more assists in the first four games of his career. While Payton still leads all rookies in assists, the number has dropped down to five, and he leads all rookies in turnovers (2.4). Jabari Parker leads all rookies in scoring, is third in steals, second in rebounds, and third in lowest turnovers. He also fouls less than any other rookie (1.4). We never really got to see Miles's pick of Julius Randle before he broke his leg  in his first game. The sleeper picks for ROY? Brooklyn's Bojan Bogdanovic, who is fourth in scoring (9.6), shooting 43% from the field and 32% from beyond the arc, or Philly's K.J. McDaniels, who is third in scoring (10.2) and is tied with his teammate Nerlens Noel for most blocks per game at 1.3.

Most Improved Player
Staff Player PPG RPG APG SPG BPG PIE
Mike Baker
Jeff Teague, Atlanta Hawks
2013/14 Stats
16.5 2.6 6.7 1.1 0.2 11.8
2014/15 Stats
17.4 2.1 7.3 1.3 0.5 12.6
Taylor Bartle
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
2013/14 Stats
Kevin Nesgoda 6.8 4.4 1.9 0.8 0.8 7.3
Mitch Northam 2014/15 Stats
Paul Rogers 12.0 5.9 2.1 0.7 0.5 11.6
Matt Tucker
Dontae Delgado
Lance Stephenson, Charlotte Hornets
2013/14 Stats
13.8 7.2 4.6 0.7 0.1 12.7
2014/15 Stats
9.6 7.7 5.4 0.8 0.2 9.5
Chris Meirose

Danilo Gallinari, Denver Nuggets
2013/14 Stats
- - - - - -
Steve Stearns 2014/15 Stats
7.4 3.3 1.1 0.6 0.3 11.0
Miles DeCaro
Tony Snell, Chicago Bulls
2013/14 Stats
4.5 1.6 0.9 0.4 0.2 5.8
2014/15 Stats
2.6 1.1 0.1 0.3 0.1 4.3

Chris and Steve though that Gallinari should win just by stepping back on the court after missing the entire 2013/14 season with a knee injury. Gallo's stats have been less than impressive so far, however, and it's doubtful he gets any votes. Lace Stephenson has not impressed in Charlotte as much as many people expected him to. While Antetokounmpo and Teague seem like strong votes, if I had to re-vote at this point, I would select Jimmy Butler from the Bulls. Butler is averaging a career-high 22 points per game and has a PIE of 14.1, up almost five whole points from last season.

Coach of the Year
Staff Coach Record PPG OPPG Net Rtg PIE
Mike Baker
David Blatt, Cleveland Cavaliers
9-7 103.8 99.9 2.5 51.4
Dontae Delgado
Taylor Bartle
Steve Clifford, Charlotte Hornets
4-14 93.6 101.1 -8.4 45.8
Chris Meirose
Tom Thibodeau, Chicago Bulls
11-7 102.7 100.2 3.1 52.6
Kevin Nesgoda
Steve Stearns
Matt Tucker
Mitch Northam
Rick Carlisle, Dallas Mavericks
14-5 110.3 101.6 10.7 56.5
Miles DeCaro
Paul Rogers
Doc Rivers, Los Angeles Clippers
12-5 105.1 99.2 6.6 53.6

Cleveland and Charlotte have both been disappointing early in the season, making Mike's, Dontae's, and my own picks look bad at this point. While the Bulls have been their usual sturdy selves, Derrick Rose is seemingly playing timid and injuries have hurt them. Have they done enough to earn Tom Thibodeau Coach of the Year? Right now, I'd say no. The Grizzlies' Dave Joerger and former Sonics assistant Dwane Casey were named Coaches of the Month for November. Two other major candidates are big surprises; Steve Kerr and Jason Kidd. Kerr has the Warriors playing even better than last year in his first season, and Kidd has the young Bucks playing way above expectations.