NBA Awards Show 2019: TV Schedule, Live Stream, Odds and PredictionsJune 23, 2019
The Toronto Raptors earned the ultimate team award in 2018-19, winning their first NBA title. Monday, at Barker Hangar in Los Angeles, the NBA will recognize the best individual performances of the campaign.
Raptors forward Pascal Siakam may have another reason to celebrate; he's a finalist for Most Improved Player. The 25-year-old recorded a memorable 32-point outing in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, but how does his full-year body of work compare to those of the other candidates?
Three of the top five picks from last year's draft list as nominees for Rookie of the Year in a tight race, but one first-year player possesses a unique skill set. Who stood out above the group?
The Sixth Man Award lists two candidates on the same squad, which may result in bragging rights between teammates.
Houston Rockets guard James Harden is looking to claim consecutive Most Valuable Player honors. Will we see a new rising star take the crown?
Check out the viewing information below to tune into the ceremony. We'll break down the candidates, Bovada's MVP odds (h/t Sports Betting Dime) and make a projection for each of the top six awards.
2019 NBA Awards Info
Date: Monday, June 24
Start Time: 9 p.m. ET
Live Stream: TNTdrama.com or TNT app
Candidates and Predictions
Most Valuable Player
Candidates: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee) -1,000, Paul George (Oklahoma City), +5,000 James Harden (Houston) +450
Based on odds taken June 13, Giannis Antetokounmpo is the front-runner to win league MVP. Among the three candidates, he's the only player to average a double-double, 27.7 points and 12.5 rebounds per contest, with a top-10 defensive rating (99.4) last year. The 24-year-old ranks second in the latter category.
James Harden claimed his second scoring title with 36.1 points per game last season; he also led the league in win shares (15.2). Regardless of the criticism about his playing style, the seven-time All-Star made the most free throws in the league (754), 232 more than Philadelphia 76ers center Joe Embiid, who's second on the list. The 29-year-old carried a bigger load in Houston because of Chris Paul's evident decline.
Paul George put together his best year as a pro, averaging career highs in points (28), rebounds (8.2), steals (2.2) and triples (3.8) per contest. Perhaps he's trending upward as an equal to star playmaker Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City. While that remains to be seen, his 2018-19 campaign propelled him into the MVP discussion.
Antetokounmpo suited up as the best player on a 60-win team that clinched home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. He's more productive on the defensive end than Harden and doesn't have a teammate averaging a triple-double like George. The 24-year-old should take home his first MVP award Monday.
Prediction: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Rookie of the Year
Candidates: Deandre Ayton (Phoenix), Luka Doncic (Dallas), Trae Young (Atlanta)
We can throw team success away in this race for Rookie of the Year; none of the finalists reached the playoffs, but they all registered productive seasons to start their respective careers on the right foot.
Deandre Ayton put together a solid year, averaging a double-double, 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, but he didn't have an extraordinary impact on the court. The 20-year-old provided a reliable big body in the paint capable of grabbing boards and scoring easy buckets around the basket.
Ayton didn't stretch the court with a 6.7' average in shot distance from the hoop; he had a good but not great year.
Trae Young came into the league as advertised, a dual-threat point guard with deep range on his shot and cerebral court vision. He averaged 19.1 points and 8.1 assists per contest, but the 20-year-old must work on scoring efficiency to elevate his game.
Young shot 42 percent from the floor and 32 percent from beyond the arc. He will likely focus on shot selection going forward, but that hole in his game may hold him back from this award.
Luka Doncic influenced the game in more ways than Ayton and Young. He can shoot the three-ball, drive to the hoop and facilitate with pizazz to bring his teammates into the flow of the game. The 6'7" guard separates himself from Young with a willingness to crash the boards, averaging 7.8 per game. The 20-year-old looks like the total package.
Prediction: Luka Doncic
6th Man Award
Candidates: Montrezl Harrel (Los Angeles Clippers), Domantas Sabonis (Indiana), Lou Williams (Los Angeles Clippers)
Domantas Sabonis saw a moderate improvement in scoring and rebounding between his second and third seasons. Still, he's not a threat to pull up on jumpers further than 10 feet away from the basket. The limitations in his offensive game without extraordinary numbers should drop him to third among the finalists.
Montrezl Harrell doesn't provide offensive versatility either, but he's a notable presence on defense, swatting 110 shots—the most on the Clippers roster last year. On the flip side, the coaching staff can't feel comfortable with his 64 percent free-throw shooting. In a tight game, he's not the ideal player with the ball in his hands.
The Los Angeles Clippers traded Tobias Harris to the Sixers before this year's deadline. Among players left on the roster, Lou Williams led the team in scoring (20) and assists (5.4) per outing.
On an All-Star-less squad, Williams, coming off the bench, stepped on the court as the Clippers' top talent. He's the go-to playmaker who helped this team to an improbable eighth seed in the postseason.
Prediction: Lou Williams
Defensive Player of the Year
Candidates: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee), Paul George (Oklahoma City), Rudy Gobert (Utah)
We can't statistically restrict the Defensive Player of the Year winner to steals and blocks. Let's dig further into impact via advanced analytics.
All three players list within the top five in defensive win shares—an estimate on the number of wins for a player because of his defense. Rudy Gobert lists second (5.7), Antetokounmpo third (5.5) and George fifth (4.9).
George led the league in steals, but he's 14th in defensive rating with 104.6 points scored on him per 100 possessions. Antetokounmpo (99.4) and Gobert (100.4) list second and fourth in the category, respectively.
We're splitting hairs with defensive ratings between Antetokounmpo and Gobert, but the Milwaukee Bucks star can defend all five positions and provides better perimeter resistance with the ability to attack the passing lanes because of his lateral quickness and reach.
Gobert can deny the best penetrators near the basket at an impressive rate, but Antetokounmpo can step outside the painted area and challenge shooters as well. He's going home with two awards Monday.
Prediction: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Most Improved Player
Candidates: De'Aaron Fox (Sacramento), D'Angelo Russell (Brooklyn), Pascal Siakam (Toronto)
The race for Most Improved Player doesn't seem as close compared to the other awards. All three competitors deserve mentions, but one player went from a mediocre No. 2 overall pick, coming off an injury-riddled campaign, to an All-Star: D'Angelo Russell.
De'Aaron Fox refined his shot selection, resulting in improved efficiency, turning himself into a 46 percent shooter—up from 41 percent as a rookie. He also developed into a more effective passer, with 7.3 assists per contest. Still, the 21-year-old must continue to expand his range.
Siakam holds a strong argument for the honor because he transitioned from a modest contributor off the bench to the Raptors' second-best player behind Kawhi Leonard in some outings. He finished behind the team's top playmaker in points per game (16.9) during the regular season and elevated his offensive impact through the playoffs, averaging 19 points in 24 contests.
If not for Russell's ascension to All-Star status, Siakam would probably claim this award. The Brooklyn Nets guard stepped on the court as the best player for a club few expected to reach the playoffs. He averaged 21.1 points and seven assists as the team's clear-cut lead playmaker and a major component of their sudden rise.
Prediction: D'Angelo Russell
Coach of the Year
Candidates: Mike Budenholzer (Milwaukee), Michael Malone (Denver), Doc Rivers (Los Angeles Clippers)
Doc Rivers deserves props for taking an All-Star-less squad to the postseason in the West. Despite the team's decision to trade its best player, Harris, the Clippers won 48 games, which seems like a testament to great coaching.
The Denver Nuggets challenged the Golden State Warriors for the No. 1 seed in the West but fell three games short. On a positive note, Michael Malone's group established the strongest home-court advantage during the regular season, 34-7 at Pepsi Center, and finished with the fourth-best overall record.
The Bucks didn't reach the NBA Finals, but Mike Budenholzer guided the club to a No. 1 seed in the East with a 60-win campaign. After eight consecutive first-round exits, Milwaukee advanced past the field of 16 into the conference finals.
It took Malone four years to lead the Denver Nuggets to the playoffs. In May 2018, Budenholzer accepted the head-coaching job in Milwaukee and immediately turned this squad into a championship contender.
Prediction: Mike Budenholzer
Advanced statistics provided by Basketball Reference.