NBA Award Predictions: Dwight Howard and Top Contenders for Each Season Award
Only a few weeks are left until the start of the new NBA season and many are now excited and anxious to see the storylines of the NBA play out.
One thing many look forward to are the end-of-the-year awards that are given out to certain players based on their performances.
Last year saw the youngest MVP ever crowned, Dwight Howard win yet another Defensive Player of the Year award and rookie phenom Blake Griffin steal the show as Rookie of the Year.
This year, we might see a lot of new faces for each award, while others retain their status as players of the year.
These are my predictions for each winner!
Rookie of the Year: Kemba Walker
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Kemba Walker is in the best position to win the Rookie of the Year award.
He will be maybe the only rookie to come in and be the leader of his team from day one. His scoring is going to be one of the few bright spots in a stagnant Charlotte offense, and his play is going to be exciting.
He'll also come in as one of the fastest players in the league. His speed allows him to almost score at will, and his pretty handles and deadly step-back jump shot are two of his deadliest weapons. His deadliest of all, though, is his sheer will to win and undeniable leadership.
I see Kemba starting off his NBA career with averages of 15 points, five assists and two rebounds per game, while also playing his heart out on the court every day.
The Bobcats still aren't going forward anytime soon, but they should be excited to finally have a legitimate leader to help them get somewhere one day.
Most Improved Player of the Year: John Wall
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Were it not for Blake Griffin last year, Wall would have won the Rookie of the Year award in a landslide fashion. Wall is a rare combination of athleticism, speed, skill and superior court vision.
One of the strongest parts of Wall's game is his ability to set up his teammates for easy buckets. As a rookie, he averaged more then eight assists per game, while also scoring 16 points per game.
Wall's speed and quick hands were also showcased as he stole the ball almost twice per game on a nightly basis. He also rebounded at a high rate for a point guard.
He showed his versatility at the beginning of the season, logging a triple-double in only his fourth game. He almost reached a triple-double on many other occasions as well.
Were it not for injuries that slowed him down and forced him to the bench for many games during the season, Wall's numbers could have easily been in excess of 18 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and more than two steals per game.
This year, don't be surprised if he tops 20 points, 11 assists, five rebounds and two steals per game. Yes, he's just that good, and that is why he will be the league's best point guard in a few years.
Sixth Man of the Year: Nicolas Batum
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Hear me out. This is not my Portland bias coming through.
Batum is a leading candidate for Sixth Man of the Year this year because of free agency.
Reigning Sixth Man of the Year Lamar Odom has been traded to the Dallas Mavericks, where he will have a starting role due to the loss of Caron Butler. He will most likely be the second-best player on the team and will take aging veteran Shawn Marion's spot as starting small forward.
Last year's runner-up was Jason Terry, who is going to regress a lot this season as he is on the wrong side of 30. His age is catching up, and he can't do what he's doing forever.
Other nominees from last year included James Harden and Jamal Crawford. There have been talks of Crawford signing with Indiana or New York, in which case he would end up as a starter most probably. James Harden will most likely assume a starting role after his amazing playoff run for the Thunder.
Batum will be playing behind Gerald Wallace, but he produced solid stats last year in the same role with around 12 points per game and four rebounds per game. He was also a lockdown defender off the bench, and after playing for the French national team over the lockout, he's become a great leader and has raised his level of play considerably.
I can see Batum coming out of the gates hot this year and averaging close to 15 points, six rebounds, a steal and a few assists here and there while playing great defense and being an efficient shooter and leader for the Portland team alongside LaMarcus Aldridge.
Defensive Player of the Year: Dwight Howard
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Dwight Howard will most likely bring home his fourth consecutive Defensive Player of the Year award.
He really has little to no competition for the award as he is consistently in the top three for both rebounding and shot-blocking each year. The others at the top of each list are usually in the top for only one of those two lists.
He's a consistent double-double threat down low, rebounding like no other in the league (except Kevin Love) and swatting shots left and right.
It's not only his athleticism; it's his timing and great defensive instincts that help so much.
It's not only his shot-blocking; it's also the presence he provides in the middle on the defensive end for his team. He makes a mediocre defensive team like the Orlando Magic one of the best in the league just by being there in the paint.
He's basically carried his teams on defense, and Orlando would probably be in the bottom of the rankings of the defensive lists if it weren't for Dwight.
Coach of the Year: Erik Spoelstra
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Erik Spoelstra really brought the Heat together towards the end of the year. He was able to manage three extremely large egos, something many other coaches in the NBA wouldn't be able to do.
Coach of the Year might be the hardest to predict, as it really depends on how the team does. A dark-horse contender for Coach of the Year is Avery Johnson, depending on if the New Jersey Nets happen to acquire Dwight Howard this year during the offseason.
Until that happens, you need to give props to the guy who kept LeBron, Wade and Bosh under control for the second half of the season.
Most Valuable Player: Dwight Howard
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Dwight is just so dominant that it'll be hard to deny him the award this year.
He's been the main man for Orlando for years now and he has almost no help at all. Even with no one around him in Orlando, he's been able to lead his team to a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference for a few years in a row.
He may be the most dominant player in the league right now, as almost no one can stop him (except Kendrick Perkins for some reason).
He's an entire defense all by himself and he's just as dominant on the offensive side of the ball. He's still learning the ropes to scoring efficiently with his back to the basket and knocking down free throws, but even without those aspects of his offensive game at their best he's still a lock for about 20 points each and every night.
He's improved his post game with help from legends this offseason, so don't expect him to be mediocre in that area on offense any longer.
Dwight Howard is the most dominant player in the league, and it's finally going to be paying off this year for him with a nice MVP award. Expect him to average along the lines of 22 points, 14 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and a steal per game while again carrying the Magic to playoffs after confirming that he will start the season in Orlando.