Welcome to our 2017-18 NBA Preseason Awards. There have 7 categories. We have an in-depth synopsis for each winner of our 7 categories. Click on each individual players’ name who are hyperlinked to read a previous article on them. Here are our NBA Pre-Season Awards (2017-18).
Most Valuable Player: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors — A funny thing
happened on the way to the Golden State Warriors defending their NBA Championship. As NBA fans, we know it means something when a player is introduced last to the fans. That’s the franchise telling the fans that this guy is the biggest star on the team, and they’re saving the best for last. So who was the player that the Warriors introduced last, and the player who received the biggest ovation when the Warriors received their championship rings on opening night? That was Stephen Curry.
With Kevin Durant winning Finals MVP last season, expect opposing teams to start treating Durant as the “alpha dog” of the Warriors. In which case, that’s just going to open up things for Curry, who usually would’ve received that “best player on the team” focus. Let’s not forget that while Durant was an MVP candidate in his own right last season, Curry was very much one of the five or six players also most deserving of the award last year. It just feels like the Warriors are transitioning this team back into Curry’s hands, with Durant as the most lethal “sidekick” in the NBA.
Rookie Of The Year: Dennis Smith Jr, Dallas Mavericks — This year’s rookie of the year race is as anticipated as any in recent memory, with the debuts of Ben Simmonns (the #1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft who missed all of last season), Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, and De’Aaron Fox capturing the biggest headlines in the off-season. But the dirty truth around this award is that voters tend to give a little more credence to “box scores” versus what a player does for their particular team. Assuming that’s the case, that could bode very well for Dennis Smith Jr. of the Dallas Mavericks.
Executives around the league have called the former NC State Wolfpack point guard the best value pick of the draft, and his athleticism and scoring ability were on display during the months before the season started, during Summer League play in Las Vegas. For a team that’s lacking in true explosive ability, he might have the green light to play “hero ball” more often than head coach Rick Carlisle would prefer. For all the incredible talent that was taken in the top 10 of the 2017 NBA Draft, Smith might have the sexiest numbers as a rookie, which would make him the favorite for this award.
Most Improved Player: Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers — This is the year the
Pacers may take a step back and out of the East playoff race, but it may also be the season that the 6-foot-11 center Myles Turner elevates his name among NBA fans. After all, he’s going to get all the touches he’d ever want in Indiana this season after Paul George was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Turner is very good on the pick-and-roll, has a nice jumper and can make his presence felt on the glass. At just 21, there is so much time and room to grow. The Pacers are definitely starting over again. But Turner is a solid foundation to build upon and is good enough to even find his way onto the All-Star team this season.
Defensive Player Of The Year: Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz — After Gordon Hayward left Utah via Free Agency, instead of trying to replace the production that the Jazz lost with Hayward, it looks like they’re going to double-down on the philosophy that made them such an interesting team last season: play tremendous defense, move the ball around among the bevy of wing players they’ve assembled, and take the best shot available. But that entire defensive philosophy is made possible by the incredible rim protection provided by Rudy Gobert.
When we look at rim protection, we often look at the shots that do happen more than the shots that don’t happen. But a large part of defense isn’t just contesting shots, it’s not even letting them be attempted, and Gobert’s presence inside the paint changes the entire opponent’s idea of going at the rim. They’re just plain afraid to test the Stifle Tower. If the Jazz’ defense can help them sneak into one of the last playoff spots in the Western Conference, then expect a lot of voters to give a lot of the credit to Gobert.
6th Man Of The Year: Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics — For better or for worse,
the entire complexion of this award changed with the gruesome injury to Gordon Hayward of the Boston Celtics. The Celtics planned to start the season off with a starting lineup of Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Morris, Al Horford, as well as Hayward. Now, it appears that rookie Jayson Tatum will at least start games for Boston at the small forward position that Hayward once held.
That would also make Marcus Smart the first guy off the bench, and one of the favorites to win this award as a result. For as young and talented as this team still remains, he’s still the emotional rudder that steers where this ship goes. When he’s hot and he’s feeling it, Boston simply plays better. Expect him to try and pick up a lot of the slack left through Hayward’s injury.
Coach Of The Year: Erik Spoelstra, Miami Heat — Coach of the year is an award that usually comes down to one objective: Can the coach’s team exceed the media’s expectations for it coming into the season? And even though the team finished 30-11 over the second half of last season, it looks like Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat could end up winning this award, perhaps as some type of “continuation” or “makeup” call after not winning it last year. If things were to keep going in the same direction, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to see Spoelstra’s heat finish among the top six teams in the Eastern Conference, and challenge for 45 wins this year. If that happens, he figures to sway a lot of voters in his direction.
Executive Of The Year: Sam Presti, Oklahoma City Thunder — This is an easy one. After Sam Presti of the Oklahoma City Thunder came in and stole away two players that at least a dozen other General Managers in the NBA were trying to pry away, there’s no way he doesn’t win the award if the Thunder finish where most people believe they will (among the top four teams in the Western Conference). Regardless of whether Paul George decides to stay in Oklahoma City after this season, the fact that Presti was essentially able to take a bunch of spare parts on his team and turn them into two of the biggest names in the NBA makes him a shoo-in for this award.
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