We’ve reached the end of the 2021-22 NBA regular season. For most basketball fans, the focus is now on the playoffs and NBA Finals odds, but a strong faction of observers will debate who should win the MVP award or who the Defensive Player of the Year should be.
Since voting for the annual NBA awards only takes regular-season play into consideration, I already have all the data needed to make up my mind on who the trophy winners should be.
This article breaks down each individual award while discussing who has the best chance to take home some new hardware this year. And who knows, one of these studs could be in the running for NBA Finals MVP odds when all is said and done.
NBA Coach of the Year: Monty Williams
There are several legitimate candidates for COY. After leading the Timberwolves to the largest win improvement from 2021 to 2022, Chris Finch has to garner some consideration.
Yet, coaching the Suns to the best record in the NBA at 64-18, we have a clear winner in Monty Williams.
NBA Most Improved Player: Ja Morant
Observers got to witness several breakout performances among young NBA players this past season. Darius Garland put his name on the map, making an All-Star game while taking the Cavs from a bottom-dwelling Eastern Conference team into a playoff contender.
Still, it didn’t match the jump seen from Ja Morant, in which his PPG increased over eight points from last season, earning him MIP.
NBA Sixth Man of the Year: Tyler Herro
Here’s an award race that isn’t likely to be close or feature much controversy at all. Leading the NBA in bench points per game with 20.8, Tyler Herro also led bench scorers with the most 30-plus scoring efforts in 2021-22.
NBA Rookie of the Year: Evan Mobley
Could the Cleveland Cavaliers have two award-winners from their 2021-22 campaign?
It’s certainly possible, but Scottie Barnes’s late-season push has made this race a fight to the finish. Barnes was the fifth-leading scorer on his playoff team, while Evan Mobley was the third-highest scorer on his. Mobley has also been an elite defender, ranking 11th in defensive win shares and sixth in blocks per game.
NBA Defensive Player of the Year: Marcus Smart
This battle may be the toughest decision of all for voters.
In the past, the popular move has been to vote for Rudy Gobert, the Stifle Tower, as he’s won three DPOY awards in his nine-year NBA career.
Yet, the leading defender on the top defensive team in the league just might steal the show. As Marcus Smart recently pointed out, he’s much more versatile, being able to guard the best scorer on a nightly basis, instead of only controlling the paint.
NBA Most Valuable Player: Nikola Jokic
On one hand, Joel Embiid was a dominant force for the Sixers, carrying the weight without Ben Simmons for most of the season.
On the other hand, Nikola Jokic did the same for the Nuggets while Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. recovered from injuries.
Both players put up other-worldly numbers, while Embiid became the first big to win the NBA’s scoring title since Shaq in 2000, it’s Jokic who is a constant triple-double threat thanks to his incredible skillset.
Those voting for these individual awards submitted their ballot on April 11. The official announcements for the award winners should be revealed sometime in June. Will Jokic win back-to-back MVPs? Or will Embiid win the award for the first time in his NBA career?
Let the debates rage on.
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