NBA Announces Finalists for MVP, Rookie of the Year, 6th Man of the Year, More

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistAugust 8, 2020

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo tries to drive past Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James during the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, in Milwaukee. The Bucks won 111-104. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Morry Gash/Associated Press

The NBA has officially announced the finalists for each of its 2019-20 regular-season awards, highlighted by Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James and James Harden in the MVP race.

The league declared the seeding games in Florida wouldn't factor into the awards races, so only everything that happened through March 11 is being considered. 

Antetokounmpo has been the favorite to win his second straight MVP seemingly since the season began, but James made a late push before the play was suspended.

Here are the finalists for each of the major awards. 

        

NBA MVP Finalists

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
  • LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers)
  • James Harden (Houston Rockets

         

NBA Rookie of the Year Finalists

  • Ja Morant (Memphis Grizzlies)
  • Zion Williamson (New Orleans Pelicans)
  • Kendrick Nunn (Miami Heat)

        

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NBA Sixth Man of the Year Finalists

  • Montrezl Harrell (Los Angeles Clippers)
  • Dennis Schroder (New Orleans Pelicans)
  • Lou Williams (Los Angeles Clippers)

     

NBA Most Improved Player Finalists

  • Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat)
  • Brandon Ingram (New Orleans Pelicans)
  • Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks)

         

NBA Defensive Player of the Year Finalists

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
  • Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers)
  • Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz)

        

NBA Coach of the Year Finalists

  • Nick Nurse (Toronto Raptors)
  • Billy Donovan (Oklahoma City Thunder)
  • Mike Budenholzer (Milwaukee Bucks)

         

The most fascinating race could be the battle for Coach of the Year.

The National Basketball Coaches Association voted Mike Budenholzer of the Milwaukee Bucks and Billy Donovan of the Oklahoma City Thunder as co-winners, but ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Nick Nurse of the Toronto Raptors was one vote short of making it a three-way tie. 

Antetokounmpo's quest to become the first back-to-back MVP winner since Stephen Curry (2014-15, 2015-16) seems like a safe bet. He averaged 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists in his 57 games being considered. 

In addition to those traditional counting stats, Antetokounmpo's defensive contributions are instrumental to Milwaukee's success. He's also a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year. His 32.04 player efficiency rating in 2019-20 is the highest single-season total ever tracked by Basketball Reference

No player has won MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season since Hakeem Olajuwon in 1993-94. 

James will attempt to spoil Antetokounmpo's MVP party by winning the award for the fifth time. The Los Angeles Lakers superstar hasn't won the award since the 2012-13 season. He led the Lakers to the best record in the Western Conference this year and is averaging a career-high 10.3 assists per game. 

Harden can join Moses Malone as the only Houston Rockets players to win multiple MVP awards if he pulls off an upset in the voting. The Beard leads the NBA in scoring for the third straight season (34.3 points per game), in addition to averaging 7.5 assists and 6.4 rebounds per game. 

Rookie of the Year seems like Ja Morant's to lose, though Kendrick Nunn has been a vital part of the Miami Heat's success in the Eastern Conference. Nunn ranks fourth on the team in scoring (15.2 points per game) and shoots 35.6 percent from three-point range. 

Zion Williamson is expected to become the biggest star from this year's rookie class. The New Orleans Pelicans standout offered a glimpse of what his future could look like, leading all first-year players with 22.4 points per game. 

Unfortunately for Williamson, his pre-hiatus resume only consists of 19 games because of a torn meniscus that kept him out of action until Jan. 22. 

Morant was drafted to be the centerpiece of the Memphis Grizzlies' next successful era. The 20-year-old wasted no time in making a positive impact, averaging 17.8 points and 7.1 assists per game and posting a 48.1 shooting percentage. 

The Grizzlies are the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference thanks in large part to Morant's scoring and playmaking skills. 

While the NBA hasn't offered a date for when the awards will be given out, an official release from the league issued on July 21 stated that TNT will announce the winners during its coverage of the postseason.