ESPYs 2015: Nominees for Top Awards and Predicting the Winners

Joe Pantorno@@JoePantornoFeatured ColumnistJuly 15, 2015

Russell Wilson and Seattle Seahawks accepts the award for best team at the ESPY Awards at the Nokia Theatre on Wednesday, July 16, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)
John Shearer/Associated Press

The sporting world takes advantage of a lull in its annual schedule for the ESPYs taking place on Wednesday, July 15 at 8 p.m. ET. With some of the biggest names in sports set to be in attendance, ESPN helps celebrate the year that was. 

While there are 32 awards that are set to be handed out on Wednesday night, here is a look at some of the top honors, the nominees and predictions as to who will win.

2015 ESPY Award Nominees
AwardNomineeNomineeNomineeNomineeNomineeNominee
Best Male AthleteStephen CurryLeBron JamesAaron RodgersJ.J. Watt
Best Female AthleteRonda RouseyBreanna StewartLindsey VonnSerena Williams
Best Comeback AthleteRob GronkowskiAlex RodriguezDerrick RoseLindsey Vonn
Best Breakthrough AthleteOdell Beckham Jr.Mo'Ne DavisCardale JonesJordan Spieth
Best TeamNew England PatriotsUConn Women's BasketballGolden State WarriorsChicago BlackhawksOhio State FootballUnited States Women's Soccer
Best GameAthletics vs. Royals AL Wild CardSpurs vs. Clippers Western Conference Quarterfinals Game 7Seahawks vs. Patriots Super Bowl
Best Championship PerformanceMadison BumgarnerLauren HaegerLeBron JamesAmerican Pharoah

Best Male Athlete

Who Will Win: Stephen Curry

The obvious thing that sets Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry apart from the other nominees this season is the fact that he won a championship. 

He bested LeBron James in the NBA Finals, who is probably Curry's stiffest competition for the honor.

Curry recorded 23.8 points per game with 7.7 assists in the regular season as he was elected league MVP. He went on to average 28.3 points per game in the playoffs on his way to helping the Warriors win their first championship in 40 years. 

Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com

Best Female Athlete

Who Will Win: Ronda Rousey

It's safe to say that there is no one on the planet who is more dominant at their respective sport than Ronda Rousey is in the UFC. 

Since July of 2015, Rousey has only fought in two matches, with one against Alexis Davis on July 5, 2014 and the other against Cat Zingano on February 28, 2015. But her performances have been breathtaking, with those two fights lasting 30 seconds...combined. 

Let that sink in. Better yet, count to 30. In that span, she defended her title TWICE as the best female fighter in the world. No question that Rousey wins this. 

Stats courtesy of ESPN.com

Best Comeback Athlete

Who Will Win: Rob Gronkowski

It would be an understatement to say that New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has battled the injury bug. He has been stampeded by it, sustaining arm, MCL and ACL injuries that put his career in question. 

Gronkowski played in just 18 games combined in the 2012 and 2013 seasons, and started 10 of 15 games that he appeared in during 2014. 

But he became Tom Brady's favorite target, making 82 receptions for 1,124 yards as the Patriots found a little bit of that early-2000s magic, defeating the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl in dramatic fashion. 

Stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com

Best Breakthrough Athlete

Who Will Win: Odell Beckham Jr.

Not to take anything away from Jordan Spieth, who has been tearing up the PGA Tour as a 21-year-old, but there has been no one more electrifying than New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

Beckham joined the Giants in Week 5 of the 2014 season as the team lost No. 1 receiver Victor Cruz for the season. Not only did Beckham step in and fill the void, he became one of the best receivers in the game.

In just 12 games, Beckham recorded 91 receptions for 1,305 yards while making circus-style catches that many football fans could not even fathom in their wildest of dreams. He's also the new face of the Madden video game franchise despite not even playing a full season in the NFL. 

Stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com

Best Team

Who Will Win: Golden State Warriors

Of the nominees, Golden State was the most dominant team with some of the toughest competition.

UConn dominated yet again in an NCAA women's bracket that lacks a true second-best program, while the Blackhawks continued a dynasty but were nowhere near as successful in the regular season, entering the playoffs as a sixth seed in the NHL's Western Conference.

The U.S. women's soccer team would be a close second for me after a performance that captivated an entire nation. They defeated the top-ranked team in the world in Germany to earn a trip to the finals, where they exorcised their World Cup demons by taking down Japan in the finals.

Golden State went 67-15 during the regular season while losing just two games at home, as it got past the best player in the world in LeBron James on the way to its first title since 1975. It does not get much better than that. 

Best Game

Who Will Win: Seahawks vs. Patriots, Super Bowl XLIX

The younger generation has been spoiled with some of the most exciting Super Bowls that the game has ever had to offer. Its latest installment did not disappoint, either. 

The Patriots' fourth Super Bowl win will always be remembered by the Malcolm Butler goal-line interception in the game's waning moments that denied the Seahawks the go-ahead score. 

But this game had it all. It was the two best teams in the league, and it had last-minute bobbling catches, questionable coaching decisions and controversy coming from the game's biggest star in Tom Brady and Deflategate. 

It's going to be difficult for Super Bowl 50 to top that. 

Best Championship Performance

Who Will Win: American Pharoah

Madison Bumgarner was downright untouchable for the San Francisco Giants on their run to a third World Series title in five years. 

But when there is a champion that breaks a 37-year drought, it's difficult to go against him. That's exactly what American Pharoah did in his obtaining of the Triple Crown. 

While winning the first two legs of the Triple Crown has been done a number of times, the Belmont Stakes has been the downfall of all challengers. American Pharoah not only won the Belmont Stakes, he had the race in the bag after his third stride.

These are just seven of the awards that are set to be given out on Wednesday night. The ESPYs will be airing on ABC from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California, and will be hosted by actor and comedian Joel McHale.