BIG MAD - NBA Awards (5.21.21)

My NBA awards!

MVP

  1. Nikola Jokic

  2. Joel Embiid

  3. Steph Curry

  4. Jimmy Butler

  5. Giannis Antetokounmpo

It’s Jokic. He had maybe one of the greatest seasons by a big man at least since the days of Shaq and Duncan. He had the raw numbers of 26/11/8 as well as the efficiency to back it all up with a 56/39/27 slash line. His PER was the highest rate in the league since 2016-2017 Steph Curry, just for some perspective. It’s simply a ridiculous season for a doughy 7 footer. Even after losing Jamal Murray for the season Denver barely missed a beat, all thanks to Jokic. His playmaking is simply too good. You could put 4 G-Leagues in there around him and they would find a way to win 45 games.

I was leaning Embiid all season, and I think I probably would have selected him had he not missed six weeks in the middle of the season. He put up just as crazy numbers this season, and him making such a leap was probably the deciding factor in the Sixers success this season. Curry just had another ridiculous season as well, and he basically shot up my ballot after the last month of the season or so.

All-NBA First Team

C - Nikola Jokic

F - Giannis Antentokounmpo

F - Jimmy Butler

G - Steph Curry

G - Damian Lillard

This one was hard. I think Jokic, Giannis, Lillard, and Curry were all shoo-ins for first team. Nobody can deny their production and the results that it wrought for their teams. I really wavered putting Joel Embiid at the forward slot (where he was eligible for some reason), but ultimately if I am going to play by the NBAs rules I thought better. The whole positional distinction is stupid to me, I think they should just have the five best players regardless of position. But there are many important super-max contract implications to how they do it, so I understand.

All that aside, I think Jimmy Butler earned a first team nod. His advanced stats are through the roof (namely 26.5 PER) and he’s basically singlehandedly kept the Heat afloat this season. All that while shooting a pedestrian 24.5% from three, meaning he’s basically just getting anything and everything he wants from the midrange and at the rim. The degree of difficultly for him is just astronomically higher because he can’t lean on the three the way other scorers can.

All-NBA Second Team

C - Joel Embiid

F - Julius Randle

F - Kawhi Leonard

G - Luka Doncic

G - Bradley Beal

Embiid and Doncic were the last cuts for the first team. I kind of knocked Luka becuase he came into the season out of shape and started pretty slow. But he put together another incredible season. His usage was through the roof, which is usually an indicator of inefficiency, but he managed to put up Lebron-esque numbers with a rather efficient 48/35/73 slash line. Scary to think he can go up even from here.

I have been sort of a Randle skeptic all season. Nobody just improves their three point shooting by 14% in one offseason (albeit it was a long ass offseason for the Knicks). But he proved it’s not just a hot hand and deserves to be recognized for it. It came down to him and Zion for that second forward spot. Zion had the better numbers, but I just have to reward the guy who almost singlehandedly brought the Knicks back from Bolivian.

All-NBA Third Team

C - Rudy Gobert

F - Zion Williamson

F - Lebron James

G - Chris Paul

G - Kyrie Irving

This one was tricky. I felt like I had to give one of the Suns backcourt a nod, and it had to be Chris Paul. Even though Booker is having a hell of a season, it’s really Chris Paul that stirs that drink. He is and was the catalyst in getting that team to the second seed, and I think however far they go in the playoffs is up to him.

It was tough to give Kyrie a look here too. Yes, he’s been erratic. Yes, he’s kind of annoying. Yes, he stabbed my favorite team in the back. But he’s been sort of the rock for that Nets team all season. Plus, he just had a ridiculous season even by his standards, putting up a 50/41/93 slash line and becoming only the 9th player ever to enter the 50/40/90 club.

Gobert is in mostly because of the structural deficiencies in the whole All-NBA ecosystem. You simply must put in a center, and even though he might be the third best center in the league he’s probably not a top-15 player at the moment.

Lebron had an incredible first half of the season and was well on his way to a first team showing, maybe even a MVP caliber year. But he simply didn’t put in enough games.

All-NBA Fourth Team

C - Bam Adebayo

F - Jayson Tatum

F - Jaylen Brown

G - Zach Lavine

G - Donovan Mitchell

There is no All-NBA fourth team, so this is sort of an honorable mentions group. Bam is squarely the fourth best center in the league, and he’s nipping at Goberts heels.

Had the Celtics not had the season from hell, I think it’s likely at least one of Tatum or Brown would have cracked the third team. I think they will both get plenty of votes, but both of their cases are hurt by the season that Boston just had.

I thought Zach Lavine deserved some recognition here. I am sort of left eating crow after the season he just put up. I had written him off just as an inefficient volume scorer who’s benefits tremendously from being on a bad team. But this season the efficiency was there, and he still managed to produce at an elite level. Sure, the Bulls are still stuck in neutral, and he still doesn’t play defense, and I don’t think you can win with him long term as your “A” guy. But he’s certainly not the impostor I thought he was.

All-Defense First Team

C - Rudy Gobert

F - Ben Simmons

F - Giannis Antentokounmpo

G - Jrue Holiday

G - Marcus Smart

Gobert and Simmons and Giannis are basically perennial first team selections at this point. Gobert is, well, Gobert. He’s a freak of nature. And Simmons is a type of gamebreaking defender that coaches dream about.

Smart put in another solid season. He really struggled offensively this season but in spite of that he simply couldn’t be taken off the floor by virtue of his defense.

Jrue has been on the team in the past, and has been absolutely lockdown this season. The East is loaded with talented guards and he shut down every single one.

All-Defense Second Team

C - Joel Embiid

F - Draymond Green

F - Jimmy Butler

G - Matisse Thybulle

G - Lonzo Ball

Not a lot of suprises here. Matisse is basically a poor mans Ben Simmons, which is still an elite All-NBA defender. Lonzo kind of had a breakout season, and I think he really lived up to his billing as an excellent perimeter defender.

All-Rookie First Team

C - James Wiseman

F - Saddiq Bey

F - Anthony Edwards

G - Tyrese Haliburton

G - Lamelo Ball

Rookie of the Year

  1. Lamelo Ball

  2. Anthony Edwards

Even though Lamelo missed some significant time in the middle of the season, he is still well deserving of the award. Almost the moment he entered the starting lineup for the Hornets, their season started to gain some real momentum. Edwards had a great season, and I think he’s definitely going to be a player in this league. But his production was hollow. He was playing on a disastrous Wolves team where he was free to take whatever shots he desired. For some perspective he took 520 shots more than Saddiq Bey, the second highest rookie, and basically shot as well from the field as Russell Westbrook.