It’s December 31st and the first 1/3 of the season is over. It has been a season where so far we’ve seen a shift in power go from the West to the East. A rookie class has impacted the league quickly and has been compared to some of the better draft classes in recent history. Players are breaking through and finding their own niche in the league while others are watching the competition fly by them. Storylines ranging from the Warriors dominance over the league to the retirement announcement of one of the game’s greatest. In this little piece I’ll hand out awards to some of the top performers over the first 1/3 of the season.
League MVP of the 1st Trimester: Stephen Curry, G, Warriors
Others with consideration: Paul George, F, Pacers; LeBron James, F, Cavaliers; Russell Westbrook, G, Thunder; Kawhi Leonard, F, Spurs
Special special runner-up: Kawhi Leonard has taken his game up a notch from last season. Watching him play you see him evolving and becoming the go to player for the Spurs. The plays are being run through him and he has helped lead them to the second best record in the league over the early part of the season. He’s averaging career highs all over the board in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and doing this while shooting over 50% from the field, 48% from 3 point range and 88% from the line. Not to mention down on the other end where he’s the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and when it’s time to put the cuffs on someone, he comes through and gets it done.
Winner: Stephen Curry is running away with what could be his 2nd MVP award. After winning the MVP award and NBA championship last year, he has come back and taken his game to another level. Playing at a level that hasn’t been matched by many other players in NBA history. He’s averaging over 30 points per game while also shooting over 50% from the field, 45% from three and over 90% from the line. He’s averaging a career high in rebounds and steals and doing all of this in just 34 minutes of action a night. Being the best player on the best team usually gets the job done, but especially in this case when he’s putting up otherworldly stats and is on pace to lead his team to the most wins in NBA history.
Rookie of the 1st Trimester: Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Wolves
Others with consideration: Jahlil Okafor, C, Sixers; Kristaps Porzingis, F, Knicks
This draft so far has overachieved in regards to what most people were expecting. There have been some breakout stars and some good role players that have come out of this class. After being booed heavily on draft night, Porzingis has endeared himself to Knicks fans and people all over social media over the early part of the season because of his smooth offensive game, his uncanny timing to block shots and his constant hustle on the boards while getting a number of put back dunks on well known NBA players. Okafor has had some off the court issues but he has been a great pick for the lowly Sixers. At 20 years of age he seems to be the only bright spot for this team. You can’t go wrong with those two selections but KAT has been the player the Wolves were expecting and more. He comes into the league with the ability to impact the game on both ends. Giving great defense while having a versatile offensive game that is a nightmare to guard for opposing bigs. Averages of 15.9 PPG, 9.4 RPG and 1.9 BPG for a 20 year old isn’t too shabby.
Coach of the 1st Trimester: Luke Walton, Warriors
Others with consideration: Gregg Popovich, Spurs; Rick Carlisle, Mavericks; David Blatt, Cavaliers
The Warriors are 29-2 and are on pace to have the most wins in NBA history. Luke Walton might not be the official head coach of this team but as the interim coach he has gone above and beyond the calling card. He has motivated the team each and every night to play and has consistently made good coaching decisions over the course of the season. Managing the players on the team about their common goal and how they will achieve that. Now, he definitely needs an award for the work he has done this season. With Steve Kerr set to arrive at some point this season he won’t be coaching all 82 games thus won’t be named coach of the year. But the job that has been done is something that should be commended.
Other award winners:
Most Improved Player of the 1st Trimester: C.J. McCollum, G, Trail Blazers
Sixth Man of the 1st Trimester: Ryan Anderson, F, Pelicans
Defensive Player of the 1st Trimester: Andre Drummond, C, Pistons
Storyline of the 1st Trimester: TIE – Kobe Bryant announces retirement from basketball after the season and the Warriors dominance over the league