Regardless of when you would like to see the NBA awards handed out, Monday night marked another series of awards handed out at the annual NBA Awards Night. Here’s a quick breakdown of the night’s festivities
Shaq as a host:
Shaq is a funny person, and that filled some major holes in the idea of a ninety minute NBA awards show. Rapping in Auto-Tune was an interesting move, but perhaps the most eyebrow raising moment was joking about his own divorce. Aside from joking that his ex-wife is a great house keeper (“she kept the house in Orlando, kept the one in LA”), Shaq relied mostly on clowning Charles Barkley. Shaq stepped a bit further into the water with his “LA lost their Balls (i.e. Lonzo and Pops) in the AD trade” and “Dwight Howard pulled a butt muscle taking a selfie” jokes, but wasn’t all the way in the deepend either. Shaq was fine.
Rookie of the Year Award
Luka Doncic won with 98 of the 100 first place votes. Hate to say it: the media sure made it seem that the race would be much closer. Luka has been the clear front runner since November and, truth be told, him losing would be an indictment more on the Mavs tanking the second half of the season than his individual performance. Trae Young had a ROY type of year in most years, as did DeAndre Ayton. Luka was just something different. Whether it was due to playing professionally for a year, the situation he fell into, or whatever it may be… Luka Doncic was the Rookie of the Year, and won.
Most Improved Player Award
Most regular season awards, when handed out in late June, seem odd. The MVPs have all had disappointing playoff performances, the coaches of the year missed major series adjustments, and the rookies of the year haven’t played in months.
The Most Improved Player, this year, was an exception to that norm. Pascal Siakam beat out DeAngelo Russell and De’Aaron Fox for the MIP award after finishing a tremendous playoff run with a championship. For all of the “Kawhi Leonard is old school and did it with no other super stars” talk, Siakam certainly played like the super star he “wasn’t.”
Sportsmanship and Teammate of the Year Award
Is there any NBA player more liked by other NBA players than Mike Conley? Further, has anyone been able to define their career with toughness and be universally beloved? Mike Conley is an impressive teammate, and was appropriately recognized for his role in mentoring a young team in Memphis this season.
People forget that it wasn’t that long ago that Conley was a force and throwing wrenches in analysts playoff predictions. After an injury plagued season a year ago, and trading Marc Gasol in the middle of the season this year, Captain Conley became Coach Conley in many ways. His impact will be seen on the future generation of Grizz, and Utah ought to feel lucky to add a veteran back court leader for next season. Congrats to Mike Conley, all accounts indicate these awards couldn’t have gone to a better guy.
6th Man of the Year
The 6th Man is always an interesting award because it is inherently not the best player on his team. It goes to a key bench player that swings momentum, usually a young guy early in his career or a veteran in the twilight of his own.
Except for this year, when two of the Clippers leading scorers were both nominated for the 6th Man of the Year award. The Clippers’ Lou Williams, his teammate Montrezzl Harrell, and Indiana’s Domantas Sabonis would have all been solid picks for the 6th Man of the Year.
But the winner, for a third time, was career 6th man Lou Williams. Lou Williams, who won the award in Toronto, came in third his season in Houston, and has won it twice now in LA, has become the iconic 6th man.
One interesting thing was in Lou’s acceptance speech… He reached out to Harrell, and commented that “it’s extremely difficult to be a finalist and lose to a teammate,” and that he felt bad for his teammate Harrell. Anyone ever going to ask Lou if he is throwing shade at his teammate in Houston Eric Gordon, who won the award when he came in 3rd in 2017?!
(For the record, he’s probably absolutely not throwing shade, and is probably just relating to his teammates current emotion, which is very kind. Probably.)
Community Service Award
Bradley Beal went with the LeBron James approach to his off the court endeavors by helping work with and build up schools in the DC area. Specifically, Beal created a new path for many underserved kids.
Where he really won, however, was in bringing two right hand men to stage. Clearly that’s why he shoots so well: he has two right hands! But on a more serious note, Beal’s commentary and moment was uplifting, and one of the highlights of the awards show.
Who else could have won this besides Robin Roberts? Further: who the heck do they hand this one to next year? Perfect pick for the award, and incredibly powerful moment.
I would hate to have to be the person who follows up with that award next year.
Coach of the Year
Coach Budenholzer came into replace Jason Kidd in Milwaukee last offseason, and saw a team that got beat in the first round turn into a contender with an MVP. Nick Nurse dealt with a lot in Toronto and Michael Malone was successful in Denver, but the Bucks’ turnaround was clearly due to a shift in command. Budenholzer was an easy pick there.
Defensive Player of the Year
Paul George and Giannis Antetokounmpo were both nominated for the MVP and DPOY awards. In fact, a big part of their MVP cases were their extraordinary defensive analytical statistics. Both PG13 and Giannis were incredible defenders that could lock up multiple positions. In particular, Giannis Antetokounmpo can cover all five positions effectively.
The award, however, went to rim protecting big man Rudy Gobert for the second year in a row. Gobert anchored one of the NBA’s best defenses in Utah, and was the black hole that the Jazz funneled their men into as the shot clock winded down. Gobert’s role was smaller than Antetokounmpo or George, but he did it at an elite level.
But one wonders, “what gave him the edge over Antetokounmpo?”
PJ Tucker may have an idea… https://twitter.com/Rockets_Insider/status/1143355557790834688
Executive of the Year
In a similar vein to Coach of the Year, the Milwaukee Bucks were rewarded for their big shift last summer. Further, the Bucks front office went out of their way at mid season to add in big shooters to prepare for the playoff run. Jon Horst, the GM of Milwaukee, represented the franchise in winning this award.
Most Valuable Player
While Paul George rounded out the three nominees, James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo were the two players fighting out the MVP award.
Harden had an unprecedented offensive season, setting records unseen by perimeter players while dominating with Wilt Chamberlain level scoring performances. In a season where critical teammates missed major portions of the season, the reigning MVP improved his game on both ends. Harden improved his defense, was top 2 in deflections and steals per game, and became a reliable post defender in Houston’s switching scheme. In conjunction with averaging 36 points per game, Harden had nine games in which he scored over 50 points. In following up his MVP campaign from 2018, Harden wrote quite an MVP resume.
Giannis was not just the best player on the team with the best record in the NBA, he was a physically imposing force in doing so. Antetokounmpo guarded all five positons, and wove around them for demoralizing dunks on the offensive end. He spearheaded the offense and defense that combined for the league’s best point differential. Giannis presence was a combination of Shaq like interior power and LeBron like open court explosion.
The truth is, in most seasons either one of the two players would have been an MVP. While both had their post seasons end disappointingly early, Harden and Antetokounmpo had historic regular seasons worth remembering.
Giannis won the contest that felt like a toss-up all year long and Harden came in second in voting for the third time in five years. Antetokounmpo, just 24 years old, is the third youngest NBA MVP ever. His emotional speech shed light on his motivation: the memory of his late father. Hats off to the NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Theme: A Global League
It makes some sense: in the first season an NBA team from outside of the United States hold the Larry O’Brien (and for the first time can really say they’re the “World Champs”), the NBA Awards were dominated by players born in other Countries. Luka Doncic, ROY, is a Slovenian that played professionally in Spain. Pascal Siakam immigrated to Texas from Cameroon as a high schooler to pursue a future in basketball. Lou Williams won the 6th Man award, but finalist Domantas Sabonis is the son of Lithuanian superstar and Portland Trailblazer Arvydas Sabonis. Rudy Gobert was born in northern France and played in the French Men’s league for three years before coming to the NBA. Giannis Antetokounmpo’s MVP rounded out international motif of the night as the son of Nigerian refugees in Athens, Greece, before coming to the United States to play in the NBA.
The NBA is growing to be a league larger than the American borders. Taking in refugees, and sending ambassadors all over the world, the league has truthfully grown into a much bigger league than Dr. Naismith could have ever imagined.
Some may even call it “Shaq-sized”… ok so maybe he really was the perfect host.
Lavar Declares Lonzo, LaMelo won’t leave BBB
For the Big Baller Brand, it’s all about family.
However, after the Ball family’s company had been hit with fraud, scandals, and faulty products, New Orleans Pelicans Lonzo Ball and top 2020 NBA Draft prospect LaMelo Ball are considering starting fresh with new endorsement deals.
But according to their father Lavar Ball, his two sons aren’t going anywhere.
In his TMZ interview, the CEO of Big Baller Brand stated, “Lonzo can think all day. He ain’t signing with nobody but Big Baller Brand.”
Recently, Lonzo openly stated he is interested in signing endorsement deals with other brands. Lonzo has also encouraged his brother LaMelo to take meetings with other shoe brands before signing a shoe deal.
Lonzo has appeared to be at odds with Lavar all offseason. After Big Baller Brand Co-Founder Alan Foster allegedly stole $1.5 million from the company, Lonzo became wary of the company’s value. In response, Lavar claimed Lonzo is “damaged goods” on their hit reality TV show Ball in the Family.
Lonzo has also gone on record to bash the quality of BBB’s products, claiming he “had to switch [his shoes] every quarter because they would just rip.”
Lavar also said LaMelo would stay with the brand as well, even though he has not worn any BBB shoes while playing in the NBL in Australia. Nike has reportedly scouted LaMelo for a potential endorsement deal with the Oregon-based company.
With the Big Baller Brand facing so much turmoil, Lavar’s fatherly commands may not be enough to keep his sons with the family brand.
NBA Season Preview and Power Rankings
We are only one week away from getting our first taste of action for the 2019-20 NBA regular season.
Next Tuesday night, the Toronto Raptors will raise their first championship banner to the rafters and give out their championship rings.
The defending champs will then kick off the season for the NBA against the up-and-coming New Orleans Pelicans, in a precursor to the game we have all been waiting to watch.
After the Raptors game, all eyes will be glued to the battle of Los Angeles, when the Clippers square off against the Lakers for the first time this season.
LeBron was the only player of the four superstars that was in L.A. last season, as the NBA landscape has changed significantly since a year ago.
With all of the player movement that took place in free agency, the NBA is more wide open than it has been in a long time.
There aren’t many teams that are coming into this season expecting to miss the playoffs and plenty of them actually feel like they have a legitimate chance to make a deep playoff run towards a championship.
As we all anxiously await the first tip, take a look at the first power rankings of the 2019-20 season.
The Washington Mystics Win First WNBA Championship in Thrilling Fashion
What a difference a year makes for the Washington Mystics.
After being swept in last year’s WNBA Finals by the Seattle Storm, the Mystics came back this season with a vengeance.
Lead by league MVP Elena Della Donne, the Mystics secured the best regular-season record in the WNBA and battled in a grueling Finals series against the Connecticut Sun, winning the series 3-2.
With Della Donne battling several injuries (including three herniated discs in her back), it was Emma Meesseman that delivered with 22 points in the winner-take-all Game 5.
Messeman became the first European-born WNBA Finals MVP, while Della Donne added 21 points. Connecticut Sun’s Jonquel Jones fought hard to the very end, leading the runner-ups with 25 points.
This championship was a long time coming for Mystic’s Head Coach Mike Thibault. The winningest coach in WNBA history finally secured his first title after 17 seasons.
Washington Wizards players John Wall, Bradley Beal, Ian Mahinmi
With the tenacity these women have shown throughout the season, it’s no surprised Della Done is looking forward to some much-deserved rest.
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