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2021-22 NBA award predictions

With the 2021-22 NBA season right around the corner, we run through our predictions for all the major awards.

It’s that time of year again where we all attach our names to some useless predictions that either make us look like average NBA pundits or extremely bad ones. But, it’s the journey, not the destination.

This is a written form of the awards prediction podcast on The JVG NBA Tribute Show‘s feed which can be found here as we run through all the major awards.

Who will win the MVP?

Dante Boffa – Giannis Antetokounmpo: He’s the NBA’s reigning Finals MVP, having shed the monkey on his back with a 50-point coronation in the final game against the Phoenix Suns, and now that he’s back in the NBA cognoscenti’s good books, it’s going to be hard to ignore another dominant regular season showing on the grounds that he hasn’t proven it when it counts.

Marco Holden – Joel Embiid: Sheesh, this one is wide open this year. Whether it’s Simmo’s unwilling corpse or CJ McCollum, Embiid will be carrying his second fiddle on offence more than ever* and with a less turbulent squad last year he was good for second in the voting. Out of the six players on my shortlist, he’s got the most to prove of players whose names don’t rhyme with Tall Gorge – and let’s be serious, it’s Tall Gorge.

*if it’s Deadline Dame then forget about it. Pack the prediction up.

Alessio Conte – James Harden: Always-Healthy-Harden (apart from the end of last season, lol) gets my vote. My head says to go for Curry here, but my heart says the Kyrie-less Nets are going to be carried by over 75 games of Harden dominance. This is provided that Kevin Durant (hopefully) missed enough time to warrant more votes for Jimbo.

Sean Carroll – Giannis Antetokounmpo: He’s a player who arguably deserves it every single season except now that he has won when it matters, people aren’t afraid of giving it to him.

Lukas Petridis – Trae Young: My pick is Trae Young. However, if Ben McSimmons gets traded within the first 20 games of the season, I reserve the right to override this pick with Joel Embiid. Embiid is the master of pettiness.

Embiid is a top ten player in the league, let’s not get that twisted, but he got given a squillion dollars before he had proven anything, so there’s no wonder he acts the way he does. Also, Thagic could be a smokey here.

Who will win the Most Improved Player?

Dante – Caris LeVert: LeVert is already good, so improving enough to win this award will be tough, but if he can cement himself as a genuine All-Star in the Rightern Conference, he should be in the running. Look for him to take on the big wing playmaker role in Indiana this season.

Marco – Tyler Herro: I love the Jordan Poole pick but he’s a zero career All-Star appearances guy for me so he doesn’t fit the mold. Christian Wood was maybe a little too good last year. Herro looked sharp in pre-season, will be buoyed by an incredible Heat squad and is destined to be overrated and underrated interchangeably every 12 months – you tell me what that means.

Alessio – Jordan Poole: Going chalk with this vote. Swaggy Poole is going to get an immense amount of opportunity while Klay is gone and looks like an absolute weapon. Depending on how well he plays – and how much the warriors need the scoring – he may even supplant Vaxxed Wiggins in the closing lineup when Klay returns.

Sean – Jordan Poole: He finished the year incredibly and has only looked better in the Crawsover League and Preseason. He’s definitely starting in place of Klay Thompson and might stay there when both are healthy.

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Lukas – Tyler Herro: Looking at the past ten most improved players, it’s safe to assume that this season’s men’s MIP will be an All-Star, so they would likely already have some form of relevance and it’s probable that they are in their early to mid-20s. Now I say all of that to say this; I have no idea how to predict MIP and I have a coin flip between Jordan Poole and Tyler Herro. Gunners (that’s short for ‘gun to my head’) I’d go with Herro.

Under Gregg Popovich, it’s worth mentioning that Thagic could be a smokey for a late-career most improved here.

Who will win the Coach of the Year?

Dante – Rick Carlisle: I’m all in on the Pacers this year, and Carlisle’s presence is a big reason why. He’s the perfect blend of experienced and progressive and should be able to unlock the interesting skillsets that the Pacers have in spades.

Marco – Erik Spolestra: Another guy well overdue. This is surely the best looking Heat squad in years, with a nice mix of young talent ( Duncan is 27, Jack!) coming into their own and been-there-done-that veterans, so Coach Spo will benefit from a near-best league record and a Lifetime Achievement Award/Logan Paul-type beat.

Alessio – Steve Nash: Poor Monty Williams is staring down the barrel at another second place finish, as he will be supplanted by the man that will navigate the Brooklyn Nets through the media slog that will be the 2021-22 season. Cool, calm and collected Nash will win this award on the back of Harden’s MVP winning season and his ability to deflect the approximately 7,000 Kyrie-related questions coming his way.

Sean – Taylor Jenkins: Always overperforming with this Memphis team, could be seen as an award for the past two seasons. I’m sure he’ll find some random value in the Jarrett Culver’s of the roster and bring them back into the play-in.

Lukas – Ime Udoka: I want Ime Udoka. Although I think the Celtics season could go either way, I foresee them taking the favourable side of things. I like the stability of their roster in regard to health coming into the season and Udoka’s refreshing perspective to build on top of an incredible foundation set by Stevens seems as though it will have success.

Who will win the Defensive Player of the Year award?

Dante – Rudy Gobert: It’s boring, but Gobert is on a different level to every other big man in the NBA, and unless your name is Giannis, this is an award for centres.

Marco – Jrue Holiday: Because fuck Rudy Gobert and fuck you. This man has been the best on-ball defender in the league for god knows how long – and don’t hit me with your “well akshully” DPOY definitions because I don’t care. This is MY pick, not yours. Hopefully watching Baguette Biyombo lose a playoff series for Utah and Jrue win a championship for Milwaukee last season will corrupt the voters’ minds too.

Alessio – Rudy Gobert: I was pretty out on Gobert at the end of the most recent Jazz-Clippers series, as many were, but this is ridiculous. Regular season players win regular season awards, and Gobert is damn historic with his defence… during the regular season. Lucky he only has to see Terance Mann three times this upcoming year.

Sean – Anthony Davis: AD has deserved this award for a long time when he’s fully healthy. Joel Embiid will win less games without Simmons, voters will get tired of voting for Rudy Gobert and maybe this is the year he stays healthy?

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Lukas – Rudy Gobert: The award doesn’t mean anything anymore: Rudy Gobert. Not in the mood to make the Thagic joke (although he could be a shout for smokey). I would also like to reserve the right to transfer my pick to Ben McSimmons if he is traded within the first 20 games of the season.

Who will win the Rookie of the Year award?

Dante – Cade Cunningham: This is the easy pick. Cunningham will have the keys to the offence from the get-go and should be able to straddle the 20-5-5 averages that would secure this award for him.

Marco – Jalen Green: As my JVG NBA Tribute Show co-host Lukas always says, no one with an alliterative name has ever made it as a star in the NBA ( don’t fact check this). That being said, it was still a coin flip for me between the top two picks, both of whom will see a lot of game time and a lot of the ball. I think Jalen will edge it on fitness and his G-League experience – I mean look what the NBL did to LaMelo!

Alessio – Cade Cunningham: If Cade is anything close to Luka Doncic, he will win this award. His game is similar (ish), he will have every opportunity to shoot or playmake, and as many minutes on the floor as he likes. He is also lucky that this award often does not account for team wins, not that any of his competitors are going to be winning much either.

Sean – Cade Cunningham (but secretly Alpren Sengun): Don’t overthink it, he’s the most NBA-ready superstar in a long time and the only reason Jalen Green’s name is getting louder is because he’s the one yelling.

Lukas – Cade Cunningham: Cade Cunningham is really boring to watch, and Evan Mobley won’t get enough ball. Jalen Green will juxtapose those two drawbacks in his inaugural CamPayne in the league.

Who will be the Sixth Man of the Year?

Dante – Tyler Herro: Herro is primed for a big season, and should see tonnes of minutes off the bench. He might even close games for the Heat, having demonstrated his big moment chops as a rookie in the playoffs. A combination of improved play, guaranteed minutes and team success is key here.

Marco – Jordan Clarkson: I wanna give my man Patty Mills a shout so badly, but he’d need an unprecedented uptick in production for a 33-year-old and with Kyrie out the door he might start too many games to qualify. Utah should win a lot of regular season games again this year and Clarkson should start a lil’ dynasty for himself here alá Jamal Crawford and Lou Williams.

Alessio – Jordan Clarkson: Not sure another player in the league will get the opportunity off the bench that Clarkson will get, much like he did last year. Utah are likely to repeat in their regular season success, so I fully expect Clarkson to do so too.

Sean – Joe Ingles: If any award is ‘oh, he has deserved it in the past’, it’s this one. Ingles had a case for winning in the past two seasons and this might be his last while still at his best.

Lukas – Jordan Clarkson: Gun to my cum I’d go with Jordan Clarkson, but I think Slatty Mills (if Kyrie plays), Goran Dragic and Tyrese Haliburton (if they come off the bench) have genuine cases. Before I move on to COTY, I would like the record to show that Thagic could be a smokey for sixth man.

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