NBA PRE-SEASON AWARDS
Welcome to our 2016-17 NBA Preseason Awards. We have 6 categories as well as our picks for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd team ALL-NBA. We have an in-depth synopsis for each winner of our 6 categories. We also list players who we considered to win an award but just missed out. Click on each individual players’ name who are hyperlinked to read a previous article on them. Here are our NBA Pre-Season Awards (2016-17).
RUSSELL WESTBROOK– OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
2015-16 STATS: 23.5PTS, 7.8REB, 10.4AST
SYNOPSIS: While the NBA off-season centered around the shocking decision by Kevin Durant to leave OKC for the Golden State Warriors, Westbrook was putting ink to paper as he resigned with the Thunder. The 3-year, $85-million contract extension will keep the former UCLA star in OKC for the foreseeable future as he is now the unquestioned leader.
We expect the 6’3″ lightning-quick point guard to excel in his new role. OKC still has plenty of talent on its roster to compete in the Western Conference. While the road to the NBA Finals will go through Golden State, Westbrook should build on his superb 2015-16 season. We saw him mature as a player and person. Perhaps the most competitive player in the NBA, we look for Russell Westbrook to bring home the trophy as the best player in the NBA for 2016-17.
LeBRON JAMES, KAWHI LEONARD, JAMES HARDEN, STEPH CURRY, KEVIN DURANT
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
KRIS DUNN– MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES
SYNOPSIS: We love Dunn’s overall game. He entered the draft early after a stellar junior season at Providence College last season. The 5th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft looks to have the inside spot at being the starting PG once the regular season begins. He is a better overall player than incumbent PG Ricky Rubio.
The 6’3″ Dunn fits the new mold of NBA point guards, which is big, athletic, and can play both ways. He reminds us very much of All-Star PG John Wall. While Dunn will need to improve his outside shooting, his play-making ability and superior on-ball defense will mesh well with new head coach Tom Thibodeau’s system. With Dunn, Karl Anthony-Towns, and Andrew Wiggins, we might be looking at the next great threesome in the NBA. In our opinion, Dunn will be an NBA All-Star by his 3rd year in the league.
NOTE: Ben Simmons would have been our pick for Rookie of The Year. However, he fractured his foot during training camp. It is possible he might miss most of the regular season. For that reason, he is not on this list. For our “featured article” on Simmons CLICK HERE.
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER
MYLES TURNER- INDIANA PACERS
2015-16 STATS: 10.3PTS, 5.5REB, 1.4BLK
SYNOPSIS: Wow. This was a very tough category to pick from. There are a number of players who showed improvement last season and will be looking to have big years in 2016-17. We chose the 2nd year big-man from Texas because he rapidly improved as the season progressed and is still very young. If he was in college, he would only be a junior.
The 6’11” PF/C is unique because he has the ability to score both from down low and from the outside. He has very good range and athleticism for a big-man to go along with a developing low-post game. He causes mis-matches because of his skills and it allows the Pacers to spread the floor. Despite being only 240 pounds, he held his own down on the blocks as a teenager in 2015-16. In just over 22 minutes played per game, the former 2015 first round pick averaged 5.5reb and 1.4blk per game.
Myles Turner was considered a big gamble when Indiana selected him 11th overall 2 years ago. It looks like general manager Larry Bird’s gamble is going to pay off in a very big way. Turner is on his way to becoming an excellent NBA player.
STEVEN ADAMS, D’ANGELO RUSSELL, HARRISON BARNES, EMMANUEL MUDIAY, MARCUS SMART
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
KAWHI LEONARD-SAN ANTONIO SPURS
2015-16 STATS: 21.9PTS, 6.8REB, 2.6AST, 1.8STL, 1BLK
SYNOPSIS: Leonard has already won this award twice and we are picking him to win it for a 3rd time. We are enamored with the progression the Spurs star has made since coming into the league from San Diego State. Leonard is one of the NBA’s top talents and he does it on both ends of the floor. He is the centerpiece along with F/C LaMarcus Aldridge for San Antonio.
The 25-year old small forward has the capability of guarding multiple positions, which makes him such a valuable commodity. The soft-spoken star is only improving and this may be the year that he takes home the MVP Award. San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich preaches defense, and he has the perfect player in Kawhi Leonard. In other words, he is a coaches dream.
COACH OF THE YEAR
TOM THIBODEAU-MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES
SYNOPSIS: The Minnesota Timberwolves are an up and coming team with a wealth of young, talented players. What helps a young team through a long and grinding season is a good head coach. In one of the better moves of this past off-season, Minnesota’s front office landed Thibodeau, who is a high quality coach and proven winner.
The 58-year old Thibodeau was the head coach of the Chicago Bulls from 2010-15. He was named NBA Coach of The Year in 2011. He had very good success with the Bulls, although he never really got along with the front office. All of the tension came to a boil as he ended up getting fired in May of 2015.
The Bulls loss is Minnesota’s gain. Thibodeau is an excellent defensive coach and is very good at developing players. He will have the pleasure of working with young stars in Andrew Wiggins, Karl Anthony-Towns, Kris Dunn, and Zach Levine. In our opinion, there is no better fit to coach these players than Thibodeau.
He will help expedite the NBA learning process of these 4 players along with the rest of the Wolves roster. He will bring a winning mentality to an organization that is on the cusp of being a good team. He will instantly earn the respect of the players and everyone around him. And perhaps most important of all, he will win basketball games. We absolutely love this hire. Tom Thibodeau is our pick for NBA Coach of the Year for the 2016-17 season.
6TH MAN OF THE YEAR
EVAN TURNER- PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS
2015-16 STATS: 10.5pts, 4.9reb, 4.4ast, 1stl
SYNOPSIS: The 27-year old parlayed a solid 2015-16 with the Boston Celtics into a 4-year, $70-million dollar contract with the Portland Trail Blazers. Everything that we have heard coming out of Portland is that the former #2 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft will be coming off the bench as the 6th man.
While Turner hasn’t lived up to the enormous expectations he had coming out of college, he is a solid player. While not a great shooter, he can defend multiple positions, pass, rebound, and score in a variety of ways when he attacks the basket. Listed as a SG/SF, Turner can also play PG in spurts, which increases his value.
While he is on his 4th team entering his 7th NBA season, we like the fit between him and Portland. The Trail Blazers have an elite backcourt with CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard. Turner can spell both of them as well as play small forward. His versatility will be a welcome addition for head coach Terry Stotts.
Portland made the NBA playoffs last season and played Golden State tough before eventually losing their 2nd round series 4-1. Expectations are higher this year and Evan Turner will play a big role in the teams success.
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS: JAMAL CRAWFORD, ENES KANTER, ANDRE IGUOLADA, MYLES TURNER
1ST TEAM ALL-NBA
FORWARD: LeBRON JAMES
FORWARD: KAWHI LEONARD
CENTER: DeMARCUS COUSINS
GUARD: STEPHEN CURRY
GUARD: RUSSELL WESTBROOK
2ND TEAM ALL-NBA
FORWARD: KEVIN DURANT
FORWARD: PAUL GEORGE
CENTER: ANDRE DRUMMOND
GUARD: CHRIS PAUL
GUARD: KLAY THOMPSON
3RD TEAM ALL-NBA
FORWARD: DRAYMOND GREEN
FORWARD: ANTHONY DAVIS
CENTER: DeANDRE JORDAN
GUARD: KYRIE IRVING
GUARD: JAMES HARDEN
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS: BLAKE GRIFFIN, KYLE LOWRY, LaMARCUS ALDRIDGE
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