Welcome to our NBA Mid-Season Awards (2016-17). It has been quite the first half of the regular season. We have seen outstanding individual performances as well as dominance by a few teams. We have seen players and teams disappoint while others have surprised.
For our Mid-Season Awards, there will be 6 categories. We will have an in-depth synopsis for each category winner. We will also list players who we highly considered to win an award but just missed out. Click on each individual player’s name or team to read a previously written article on them. We now present to you our NBA Mid-Season Awards (2016-17)
JAMES HARDEN– HOUSTON ROCKETS
2016-17 STATS: 28.6pts, 11.8ast, 8.3reb
SYNOPSIS: This was by far the toughest category to pick a winner. We believe it was a 2 man race through the first half of the season. James Harden or Russell Westbrook? Westbrook or Harden? We give the nod ever so slightly to the Rockets star. While Westbrook has been sensational in averaging a triple-double, Harden has his team playing at a shockingly high level.
“The Beard” was always a shooting guard in his career. New head coach Mike D’Antoni made perhaps the best move by any coach this year. He made Harden the Rockets point guard and the results have been stupendous. Harden has mightily improved his overall play and is currently leading the NBA in assists. The former Arizona State star is the leader for the surprising Rockets team, who are off to a 31-10 start.
Considered by many, including us to be a 1 dimensional player (scoring), Harden has proven everybody wrong as he can do it all on the basketball court. Even his defense has improved a little. The Rockets are averaging 114.6ppg. However, it is Harden and the team’s overall performance that gives him the slight nod over the electric Russell Westbrook. It will be fascinating to watch these 2 battle it out for the NBA MVP award over the next 41 regular season games.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
JOEL EMBIID- PHILADELPHIA 76ERS
2016-17 STATS: 19.4pts, 7.5reb, 2ast, 2blk (averages 25-28 minutes per night)
SYNOPSIS: It took 2 years for NBA fans to watch Joel Embiid play on an NBA court. From what we have seen through the first half of the regular season, it was well worth the wait. The 3rd year player from Kansas is considered a rookie because he never played in his first 2 years due to injuries.
Playing on a minute count (25-28 per game) to combat against fatigue and injury, the 22-year old from Cameroon has showed off all the skills that made him the 3rd overall pick from the 2014 NBA Draft. He has already won Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month 3 times. The 7’0″, 250-pound center shows amazing grace on the court. He is a tremendous athlete for his size. However, it is his skill that has him earning rave reviews from fans and players.
He is a defensive menace as he is already one of the NBA’s best rim protectors. We have been extremely impressed with his offensive repertoire. Embiid can shoot it from mid-range, has nice low-post moves, and finishes with authority. As well as he has played thus far, he is only scratching the surface of his enormous potential. The center started playing basketball late in his teens and the improvements he has made in such a short time has been staggering. His play has put the 76ers 2015 2nd overall pick, Jahlil Okafor, on the bench.
In what has turned out to be a disappointing rookie class in terms of performance, Joel Embiid has made up for it himself. Once he starts to play more minutes and if he can stay injury free, we just might be looking at the next great center in the NBA. His play has actually made the 76ers a team to watch in the future.
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER
GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO- MILWAUKEE BUCKS
2016-17 STATS: 23.2pts, 8.7reb, 5.6ast, 1.8stl, 2.0blk
SYNOPSIS: There are some players in the NBA when you watch them that make you go “WOW”. Giannis “The Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo is one of them. He has played so well that a case could be made for him to be in the running for Eastern Conference Player of the Year. For our NBA Mid-Season Awards, he settles for Most Improved Player, beating out his teammate, Jabari Parker.
Giannis is a special athlete who is just scratching the surface of the player that he will become in the future, which is scary. After having a solid 3rd year in 2015-16 (16.9pts, 7.7reb, 4.3ast), he has taken his game to another level this year. At only 22-years old, the 15th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft leads the young and talented Bucks in every major statistical category. What makes the “Greek Freak” special is his ability to play multiple positions.
At 6’11”, he has the unique size and skill to play PG, SG, SF, and PF. He plays the game with amazing grace. The 220-pound SF has a huge wing-span, which is one reason why he should be among the league’s top defenders for years to come. The one negative in his game that we see is his jump-shot. Once he becomes a more consistent shooter, he will unstoppable at the offensive end of the court.
The Bucks just locked up Antetokounmpo to a long-term contract extension, which ensures his stay in Milwaukee for the future. Along with Jabari Parker, head coach Jason Kidd has perhaps the most talented and young forward combination in the NBA. While Parker is proving to be a very good player, it is the “Greek Freak” who should be among the NBA elite for years to come. We see multiple All-Star game appearances and possible NBA MVP awards in his future. He has perhaps the highest ceiling of any young player in the NBA.
BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER
RUDY GOBERT- UTAH JAZZ
2016-17 STATS: 12.3pts, 12.4reb, 0.9ast, 2.5blk
SYNOPSIS: The 7’1″ center from France has emerged as not only one of the better defensive players in the NBA but one of the top overall. The 27th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft was selected by Denver. He was traded on draft night to Utah and it has turned out to be a steal for the very young and talented Jazz.
Gobert is our NBA Mid-Season top defensive player because he is a force in the middle. In an era where centers are becoming more scarce, Gobert is a menace down in the paint. He is a shot blocker extraordinaire and rebounding machine. He shows impeccable timing when blocking shots, which only a handful of players have.
He has also improved his offensive game. The 24-year old is just scratching the surface of his enormous potential and is a main reason why Utah is 27-16 and looking like a playoff-bound team.
Utah management did the smart move and gave Gobert a contract extension this past October. He received a 4-year, $102 million dollar contract extension. We are a big fan of Gobert and his best days are clearly ahead of him. Don’t be surprised to see Gobert be an eventual multiple time All-Star. His outstanding defensive play has the Utah Jazz playing among the best teams in the Western Conference. We expect him to continue playing at an extremely high level.
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS: DRAYMOND GREEN, KAWHI LEONARD, LeBRON JAMES, ANTHONY DAVIS
MIKE D’ANTONI- HOUSTON ROCKETS
SYNOPSIS: We will be the first to admit that we didn’t like the hire that Houston general manager Daryl Morey made when he named D’Antoni head coach. The 65-year old D’Antoni had great success in the early 2000’s with the Phoenix Suns. He played a fun, fast paced style of play led by Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire. While those Phoenix teams never made the NBA finals, they were among the NBA’s best teams for around a 4-5 year stretch.
He eventually ended up signing a lucrative contract with the New York Knicks, which ended up a disaster. D’Antoni found another head coaching job with the Los Angeles Lakers from 2012-14, which again was a bitter disappointment as those teams lost often while playing terrible defense. This is why we were very negative when he was hired as Houston’s head coach this season.
We are the first to admit that we were wrong. The Rockets have been the surprise team of the NBA with a current record of 32-11. Perhaps the best move by any coach in the last few seasons has been D’Antoni switching All-Star James Harden from SG to PG. The results have been staggering as Harden is playing as well as anyone in the league and the Rockets are currently sitting in 3rd place in the Western Conference standings.
D’Antoni has always been known as a very good offensive coach whose teams played mediocre defense. While the team’s overall defense has improved slightly, the offense has improved from averaging 105.5 in 2015-16 to 112.6 through the first half of this season. He has gotten very good play from the regular rotation and Harden deserves a lot of credit in making the move to PG.
Mike D’Antoni is our Mid-Season Coach of the Year. There is another half of NBA regular season games to be played. Can he get his team to play at least average defense the rest of the way? We all know his team will score. However, to win in the playoffs, defense has to be played. While those are questions that we have to wait and see to be answered, one thing is certain to us. Mike D’Antoni has been the best coach in the NBA so far and has surprised many people, with us being the most stunned.
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS: TYRONN LUE, BILLY DONOVAN, STEVE KERR, GREGG POPOVICH, QUIN SNYDER
BEST 6TH MAN
ERIC GORDON- HOUSTON ROCKETS
2016-17 STATS: 17.9pts, 2.7reb, 2.9ast, (30.6min per game)
SYNOPSIS: Expectations were extremely high for Gordon when he left Indiana after his freshmen year. The 7th overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft was selected by the Los Angeles Clippers. The 6’4″ SG had a very solid first 3 seasons in the NBA. Unfortunately, the injury bug hit the 28-year old hard soon after. Fractured wrist, surgeries on both knees, and a torn labrum in his left shoulder are 3 of the major ailments that have dampened a player who was considered one of the NBA’s rising stars.
However, Gordon has persevered and looks like he has found a home for the foreseeable future with the Houston Rockets. The former high school all-american has found his niche as the 6th man for the most surprising team in the NBA during the season’s first half. While the injuries have taken away some of the explosiveness that made him such a highly touted prospect, Gordon could always put the ball in the hoop. He has thrived in Mike D’Antoni’s system this season.
Gordon is pouring in close to 18 points per game in 30 minutes of playing time per night. He is instant offense off the bench. Eric Gordon is a perfect example of a player who has overcome multiple injuries but never gave up. While being the 6th man for Houston, he is one of their most important and best players.
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS: LOU WILLIAMS, JAMAL CRAWFORD
QUESTIONS FOR THE READER:
What do you think of our Award winners?
What players would you have winning instead of our picks?
Please leave all comments in the section below.
NOTE: To read our 2016-17 NBA Pre-Season Awards, VIEW HERE.
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