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Breaking down the NBA awards

Mitch and Taylor roll through the end of the season awards and who they think should claim this year's MVP, ROY and others.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

None of of us here at Sonics Rising have votes for the NBA's end of the season awards, but two members of our staff - Mitchell Northam and Taylor Bartle - were thinking about who they would vote for if they did have a say.

Most Valuable Player

Mitch: Stephen Curry, PG, Golden State Warriors
Taylor: Stephen Curry, PG, Golden State Warriors

Mitch: This one is pretty easy. Curry is the best player on just the NBA's best team, but a team that might be historically great. He's the best shooter in the game, one of the best scorers, one of the best passers and has become the nucleus for a Warriors team destined for an appearance in the Finals. Some will say Curry didn't play enough crunch time minutes, but that's because he didn't have to - the Warriors and Curry were just that good this season.

Taylor: I'm sorry to the Harden fans out there, but I just don't see it any other way. Curry had the highest net rating in the NBA at 17, with an offensive rating of 114.2. While Harden had the higher player impact estimate, Curry had the better assist to turnover ratio and TS%.

Rookie of the Year

Mitch: Nikola Mirotic, F, Chicago Bulls
Taylor: Nikola Mirotic, F, Chicago Bulls

Mitch: Sure, Andrew Wiggins steals the highlights and led all rookies in scoring, but if one looks deeply into advanced stats, Mirotic is the obvious choice. He has a real-plus/minus of 3.2 and a wins-over-replacement of 5.4 and holds edges over Wiggins in other stats like win shares (5.7 to 2.1) and player efficiency ratings (17.9 to 13.9). Mirotic's 20.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per-game in March helped keep the Bulls afloat when other players were hurt too.

Taylor: This won't be the popular pick, but if you delve into the advanced stats, it's a hard one to deny. While Andrew Wiggins had a bigger role on his team, Mirotic had the higher player impact estimate (highest amongst rookies, in fact), the higher offensive rating (also tops amongst rookies), and the lower defensive rating (lower is better, and Mirotic's was the second lowest). Mirotic also has the higher TS%, higher REB%, and higher assist to turnover ratio.

Defensive Player of the Year

Mitch: Kawhi Leonard, G/F, San Antonio Spurs
Taylor: Draymond Green, F, Golden State Warriors

Mitch: Sure, he missed 19 games, but Kawhi has been the Spurs' best player this season and has been the league's best defender since he returned from injury. Leonard was often assigned to guarding the opposing team's best perimeter players and most of the time took them out of the game. His long arms and large hands allowed him to notch 148 steals - the fourth most - this season too.

Taylor: It's really hard not to give this award to Kawhi Leonard, but he did miss 15 more games than Green. Green averaged 1.6 steals, 1.3 blocks, 8.2 rebounds and a defensive rating of 96.0 this season. He can guard any position on the floor.

Sixth Man of the Year

Mitch: Isaiah Thomas, PG, Boston Celtics
Taylor: Isaiah Thomas, PG, Boston Celtics

Mitch: The field for Sixth Man of the Year isn't great, but IT4 stands out among the rest. Since arriving in Boston the Celtics have been much better and he has essentially become their closer and their glue guy. He contributed to some chemistry issues while in Phoenix, but the Suns still scored more when he was on the floor. Since arriving in Boston he hasn't started, but has played 26 minutes per game and is their leading scorer this season with 19 points-per-game.

Taylor: Nepotism? Maybe, but Thomas is a big reason why the young Celtics are in the playoffs. IT is averaging 16.4 points, 4.2 assists, and 0.9 steals per game. He also has a tendency to play with fellow point guard Marcus Smart and has shown his ability to run the team with the game on the line.

Most Improved Player

Mitch: Rudy Gobert, C, Utah Jazz
Taylor: Rudy Gobert, C, Utah Jazz

Mitch: When this season started some - including myself - thought, "Wow, Rudy Gobert. What a bust." But now, 82 games later those same people and I are asking, "Is this guy one of the five best centers in the league?" It is certainly shaping out that he could become that. The Stifle Tower improved in every aspect of his game from his rookie season and after the All-Star break he averaged a stat line of 34.4 minutes, 57.6 percent from the field, 13.4 rebounds, 11.1 points, 1.8 assists, 2.6 blocks and a steal per-game.

Taylor: While Gobert's increase in points, rebounds, and blocks can be chocked up to more minutes, he also greatly improved his shooting percentage (from 48.6 to 60.4%) and free throw percentage (49.2 to 62.3%). He has also become the defensive anchor of one of the top young teams in the league.

Coach of the Year

Mitch: Steve Kerr, Golden State Warriors
Taylor: Mike Budenholzer, Atlanta Hawks

Mitch: Sure, Kerr inherited a great roster. But he has been able to do with this Warriors team what Mark Jackson couldn't. He took them from being a good team in the West to the best team in the NBA and perhaps a historical season. The Warriors won 67 games this season - the most in franchise history - and Kerr had a little bit to do with that. Whatever the mystery was to unlocking this team, Kerr solved it in just his first season as an NBA head coach.

Taylor: Coach Bud took practically the same roster as last year, which won 38 games, and turned them into the best team in the Eastern Conference, winning 60 games and turning into "Spurs east." While a healthy Al Horford certainly helps, the Hawks are playing as a team, and at one point the entire starting lineup was named Player of the Week.


Who would you vote for as MVP and other awards this season? Why? Let us know in the comments.