One quarter of the way through the NBA 2019-2020 season and the award races are shaping up to be a close one, with many, many players exceeding expectations, having breakout years, and dominating the league. Here at Calling Bank, our team has voted on each player award to give you an idea of who might be currently leading the races for these awards, and who might be nipping at their heels.
*All stats correct as of 12am, 11 December 2019
Most Value Player – Giannis Antetokounmpo
It comes as no surprise that the reigning MVP who has taken a step forward in his game is Calling Bank’s MVP for the season so far. Seeing improvements in points, rebounds and steals per game, as well as leading the league in Player Efficiency Rating (PER) and Win Share per 48 minutes, it’s crazy to think that there isn’t more hype around the Greek Freak. Statistically, he’s improved from his MVP season, a season which many believed couldn’t have been better. With the Bucks at 21-3, top of the East, equal best team in the league, it’s pretty hard to see anyone else winning MVP.
In the hunt: LeBron James, James Harden, Luka Doncic, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, Pascal Siakam
Rookie of the Year – Ja Morant
With Zion out of the picture, there has been one rookie that has clearly stood out from the rest of his peers, and that is the walking highlight reel of Ja Morant. The fluidity in his game is outstanding, he looks so comfortable on the floor, and has been great as the floor general of the young Memphis Grizzlies. Leading all rookies in both scoring and assists, and sporting a PER of 19.6, Morant has made the ROTY race the most clear-cut choice of all awards so far this season. However, with Zion almost ready to spring out of the gates, we could quickly see this race tighten up throughout the next few months.
In the hunt: Kendrick Nunn, R.J. Barrett, Eric Paschall
Defensive Player of the Year – Anthony Davis
Well…he called it pre-season…Anthony Davis is the DPOY. Coming 2nd in the league with 2.7 blocks a game, coupled along with 1.5 steals a game, 4th in defensive rating and 2nd in defensive win shares, it is clear that Davis has been an important part of the Lakers defence, which has definitely led to their great record of 21-3, exceeding expectations. For the actual award, he has Giannis very close on his heels. Although Giannis is averaging 1.4 blocks per game less than AD, he is clearly leading the league in defensive rating and defensive win shares, whilst also coming very close in Calling Bank’s poll. It will be interesting to see who the more consistent defender will be throughout the rest of the season.
In the hunt: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Rudy Gobert, Jonathan Isaac, Karl-Anthony Towns, Patrick Beverley
Most Improved Player – Andrew Wiggins
In what was a VERY close vote, the previously disappointing and underwhelming Wiggins has so far proven that he actually CAN be the real deal. I half-jokingly selected him as the ‘Dark Horse’ to win this award in the preseason, and to my surprise he’s actually got a very good shot at winning it. Wiggins has seen improvement in every statistical category except for steals, with 6.4 more points per game, and huge improvements in playmaking and defence. Wiggins’ PER is up 6.9 and his influence on games is clear to see. For his sake, and Minnesota’s sake, let’s hope he can keep this up, otherwise he’ll probably receive an even bigger bashing from the media than what he’s previously received.
In the hunt: Brandon Ingram, Malcolm Brogdon, Devonte’ Graham, Pascal Siakam, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jayson Tatum, Luka Doncic, Joe Harris, Bam Adebayo, Dejounte Murray
Sixth Man of the Year – Lou Williams
In what is widely considered a two-Clipper race, Lou Williams has come out on top to claim Calling Bank’s 6th Man Award. If Lou Will makes it 3 in a row, he will without any doubt be considered the best 6th man of all time. The man has improved statistically everywhere AGAIN, at age 33 in his 15th season. Crazy. What irks me, however, is that Sweet Lou averages the 2nd MOST minutes for the Clippers this season, even though he has started only 3 times out of his 23 games. Can he therefore REALLY be considered a sixth man if he’s played the 2nd most minutes (31.0 per game)? Something to ponder, but he is undoubtedly an absolute stud off the bench and has been vital to the Clippers season so far, along with his other bench pal, and other 6th man favourite, Montrezl Harrell.
In the hunt: Montrezl Harrell, Derrick Rose, Spencer Dinwiddie, Dennis Schroder
All NBA 1st Team
G: James Harden, Luka Doncic
F: LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo
C: Karl-Anthony Towns
The 4 men in the guards and forwards spots are the clear top 4 for the MVP race. Huge seasons for all of them, all exceeding expectations, all with their unique storylines, all playing for winning teams. When it comes to the end of the season, it will definitely be these 4 vying for the MVP trophy. The outlier is clearly Towns, but with the centre position being largely underwhelming so far this season, it looks like KAT has been the standout overall at the centre position. As always, there was some confusion surrounding the big-men, and whether they should be considered a forward or a centre. Potentially this season could see the amalgamation of the forward and centre spots.
All NBA 2nd Team
G: Kemba Walker, Damian Lillard
F: Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis
C: Joel Embiid
While Anthony Davis was unlucky to miss the 1st team due to his stubbornness about being a true Power Forward, the other 4 could be considered the MVP outliers. Kemba is consistently producing, but his influence is being lost among the other Celtics talents such as Tatum, Brown and Hayward. Lillard started the season very strong but has since been a little bit inconsistent, and the Blazers have so far been a little bit underwhelming. Kawhi is putting in a relatively strong season, but is naturally flying under the radar because he’s resting for quite a few games. Embiid has also been playing well, but isn’t meeting the lofty expectations that were placed upon him by many, and this could be why he finds himself behind Towns at the Centre position.
All NBA 3rd Team
G: Kyrie Irving, Devin Booker
F: Jimmy Butler, Pascal Siakam
C: Nikola Jokic
Kyrie can thank his lucky stars for a strong start to the season, especially since he has missed the last 12 games with injury. Booker may finally find himself in a position where he’s just been playing too well and too efficiently in a surprisingly good Phoenix team to get snubbed again. Butler’s new home in Miami is suiting him quite well, and he is becoming quite the stat-sheet-stuffer, as well as leading Miami to a solid record that has them exceeding expectations. Siakam is clearly the leader of Toronto now, and has taken a step forward almost equal to that of his improvement last season, whilst keeping the Raptors at a very respectable record. Jokic scrapes his way into the 3rd team, and while he has been producing decent enough numbers, he has been incredibly underwhelming, and will definitely need to lift his game if he is to keep a spot in any All-NBA team.
In the hunt:
G: Trae Young, Bradley Beal, Malcolm Brogdon, Russell Westbrook
F: Andrew Wiggins, Jayson Tatum
C: Andre Drummond, Rudy Gobert