NBA Awards 2019: Full List of Finalists Revealed for All HonorsMay 18, 2019
The NBA announced the finalists for its major individual awards Friday, with Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden and Paul George being the three players who will vie for the Most Valuable Player.
MVP: Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden and Paul George
Defensive Player of the Year: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Paul George, Rudy Gobert
Rookie of the Year: Trae Young, Luka Doncic, Deandre Ayton
Most Improved: De'Aaron Fox, D'Angelo Russell, Pascal Siakam
Sixth Man: Montrezl Harrell, Domantas Sabonis, Lou Williams
Coach of the Year: Mike Budenholzer, Mike Malone, Doc Rivers
No one on the list stands out as a surprise, with the finalists being essentially who most expected. Perhaps the biggest surprise is Joel Embiid being left off the finalists for Defensive Player of the Year, though it's hard to quibble with the chosen list.
Likewise, most of the awards have heavy favorites. Antetokounmpo seems like a near-lock for MVP despite Harden putting together one of the best scoring seasons in modern NBA history; his place on the DPOY finalists list seals how the voters viewed his two-way brilliance.
Gobert is a favorite to take home his second straight Defensive Player of the Year. He would join Kawhi Leonard, Alonzo Mourning, Hakeem Olajuwon, Dennis Rodman, Sidney Moncrief, Dwight Howard, Ben Wallace and Dikembe Mutombo as the only players to win the DPOY in consecutive years.
Lou Williams is an overwhelming favorite to join Jamal Crawford as the only players to win three Sixth Man of the Year awards. The only real hope for Domantas Sabonis is Williams and Montrezl Harrell splitting the Clippers vote.
Trae Young made the Rookie of the Year conversation interesting late, but Luka Doncic's season-long consistency should win out. Doncic and Oscar Robertson are the only two players in NBA history to average 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists during their rookie season. He is one of just five players to go 20-5-5 during his rookie season.
Most Improved will come down to a battle between Pascal Siakam and D'Angelo Russell. Siakam is the favorite based on the award's definition—his ascent from role player to borderline All-Star was an unforeseen occurrence—but Russell was an All-Star and the best player on a Nets team that surprised some by making the postseason.
Coach of the Year is probably the most up-in-the-air of the awards. Mike Budenholzer took the Bucks from a playoff also-ran to the NBA's best record. Mike Malone pushed the Nuggets into the Western Conference elite after missing the playoffs a year ago. Doc Rivers probably did the best actual coaching job of the three, morphing what looked like a high-lottery Clippers team into the type of cohesive unit that could push the Warriors to six games in Round 1.