Bucking Broncho – 2018-19 NBA Award Predictions
The 73rd NBA season has officially kicked off. The Golden State Warriors are still the team to beat, LeBron James is a Los Angeles Laker, and Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo have traded punches. Amidst all the madness, here’s my list of players who will be taking home the 2018-19 NBA Awards.
MVP: My prediction for the 2018-19 Most Valuable Player is Anthony Davis. After finishing third overall in the 2017-18 MVP voting, expect Davis to make a reappearance in the MVP race this season. At 6’10, the New Orleans Pelicans big man has been a dominant force in the NBA. In the 2017-18 season, Davis averaged 28.1 points per game, 11.1 rebounds and a career high 2.6 blocks per game. If Davis can continue to improve on his game entering his seventh year in the league, while leading the Pelicans to the playoffs for their second year in a row, look for him to be a serious contender for the league MVP.
Defensive Player of the Year: After finishing second in the DPOY race last season, look for Philidelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid to make a push for the award this season. Embiid averaged 1.8 blocks and 0.6 steals in his 2017-18 campaign. While Rudy Gobert, who won the award last season, will be tough competition for Embiid, the competition was closer than it seemed. Embiid has had an injury prone career in the NBA, and last season became gradually accustomed to playing night in and night out in the pros. If Embiid can perform at a high level for a majority of the season, he could be taking the DPOY award home.
Most Improved Player: My prospect for the Most Improved Player in the NBA is Josh Hart. Hart was drafted out of Villanova by the Utah Jazz in the 2017 NBA Draft, and was promptly traded to the Lakers on draft night. In his first year, Hart averaged 7.9 points per game and 4.2 rebounds per game. Following his rookie season, Hart was named MVP of the 2018 NBA Summer League after averaging 24.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. Hart looks to have greatly improved between now and last season, posting 20 points and 4 rebounds in his first game of the year. If Hart continues to improve, he could earn his way into the starting spot on the Lakers roster, and maybe even the league Most Improved Award.
Rookie of the Year: When talking about Rookie of the Year, Deandre Ayton should be the clear-cut favorite to take home the award. Ayton is far and away the most NBA-ready player in the draft, save for foreign phenom Luca Doncic. Hey physically is a specimen. The 7-footer out of Arizona averaged 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds per game in his lone year there. He posted an impressive 18 points and 10 boards in his season opener, with a win over the Dallas Mavericks. Barring an impressive season from Doncic, the ROTY award should be Ayton’s to lose.