As you might have guessed, the NBA is doing things a little bit differently this year for individual prizes.
Typically, the votes for awards such as Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year would have already been counted and decided. Over the last three seasons, the NBA has elected to wait until late June to announce the winners, but due to the coronavirus, it’s been pushed back even further.
Voting for the awards began this past Tuesday and ONLY account for games that were played from the beginning of the regular season up until it was suspended on March 11. So anything that happens during the Orlando restart is irrelevant to these awards. Voting ends on July 28.
It’s a good bet that Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo wins his second consecutive MVP and he might even snag DPOY while he’s at it. The brilliant basketball mind of Zach Lowe wrote as such in a breakdown post for ESPN, detailing who he believes should win each individual award; as usual, there were a couple of former Wildcats in the mix.
My individual awards ballot for the 2019-20 NBA season: https://t.co/UxaCkkJEMz
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) July 24, 2020
Lowe listed Los Angeles Lakers big man Anthony Davis as his third choice for DPOY behind Antetokounmpo and Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (Gobert has won the award the previous two seasons). Here’s what Lowe had to say about Davis:
*Reminder: Lowe has an actual vote for the awards, so these are his actual picks that he has made public*
And when he’s more off to the side — as he is within the Lakers’ starting five — Davis carries the same “whoa, he’s everywhere” deterrent effect as Antetokounmpo and [Kawhi] Leonard. Leonard’s best was better, but between minutes and opportunities, Davis (to these eyes at least) brought slightly more cumulative value.
Davis brings the league’s second-most-potent combination of rim protection and perimeter ubiquity. He is one of only two players (along with Jonathan Isaac, coming for one of these spots in his next healthy campaign) to average 1.5 steals and at least two blocks this season. He can switch in a pinch.
The Greek Freak likely deserves to win both, but Davis was also a different kind of animal on defense this season. Just ask one of his peers, Cleveland Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr.
Just from playing I feel like I have to be more aware of where AD is on the court compared to the others. Obviously all ridiculously good, but AD this year was a menace
— Larry Nance Jr (@Larrydn22) July 24, 2020
Moving on to Most Improved Player, Lowe had more praise for another one-time ‘Cat–Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo. Lowe tabbed Adebayo as his second choice for MIP behind New Orleans Pelicans All-Star Brandon Ingram. Coming in third was Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum. In his own words, Lowe had a tough time coming to this decision and said you couldn’t go wrong with either three.
However, in the end, it was Adebayo’s lack of offensive impact compared to Ingram and Tatum that moved him into second.
Adebayo projected as a fast, ultra-switchable center. He showed glimpses of advanced big man passing last season. But nothing portended his emergence in Year 3 as a legit offensive fulcrum and secondary scorer.
Despite impressive rookie campaigns from Heat guard Tyler Herro and Charlotte Hornets forward PJ Washington, the pair didn’t receive much love as potential winners for Rookie of the Year. Understandably, Ja Morant (of Murray State fame) was Lowe’s choice, but he did give Herro and Washington some recognition for their efforts.
When it comes to All-NBA teams being announced, I think we’ll see another Kentucky name or two come out. Eric Bledsoe is going to be a popular choice to make an All-Defensive team (as will Davis and Adebayo) and it’s likely that Davis is tabbed as a First Team All-NBAer. Don’t count out Herro or Washington to sneak onto an All-Rookie team, either.