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Thankfully, the NBA awards have not matched the divisiveness surrounding a presidential election.

Nonetheless, the candidates draw both praise and scrutiny. Supporters and critics of each candidate hurl criticism at each other, both substantive and personal. And, of course, the media is accused of carrying a bias.

In this case, selected NBA writers and broadcasters actually have a vote in this process. They all profess not to have any self-interest, knowing that it actually can affect contract bonuses. Instead, they study each candidate closely based on statistical analysis, film study and the eye test.

Under that spirit, below are my selections for the NBA’s regular-season award. 


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MVP: Nikola Jokić

The Nuggets have soon encountered a first-world problem. How do you compare Jokić’s current season to when he won the MVP award in 2022 and 2021? As Nuggets coach Michael Malone said, “it’s hard to differentiate greatness from greatness to greatness.” Well, Jokić has averaged similar numbers in points, rebounds and assists as he did during his two MVP seasons. He has done so to help the Nuggets stay on top of the Western Conference despite Jamal Murray nursing various injuries and leaning on a younger core of role players.

Jokić no longer has to compete for this award with Sixers center Joel Embiid, who became disqualified earlier this season per the NBA’s rule that players have to play at least 65 regular-season games to win an individual award. Jokić still has some stellar competition elsewhere from Dallas’ Luka Doncic, Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, Boston’s Jayson Tatum and Minnesota’s Anthony Edwards. But none of those players have proven as consistent with Jokić with either their production, assuming the No. 1 role or ensuring team wins. 

Rookie of the Year: Victor Wembanyama

It may have been a foregone conclusion Wembanyama would win this award the moment San Antonio drafted him with its No. 1 pick. He lived up to the hype as a generational talent that could dominate with his big-man body with point-guard skills. With Oklahoma City’s Chet Holmgren having a stellar rookie season following a season-ending injury, some may argue Holmgren deserves hardware for actually contributing on a winning team. 

Fair point, but not enough to take the trophy from Wembanyama. He has thrived despite receiving more defensive attention and less help on a sub-par roster. Remove Holmgren from the Thunder, and they would still become a playoff contender. Remove Wembanyama from the Spurs, and they may have finished with under 10 regular-season wins. 

Defensive Player of the Year: Rudy Gobert

Wembanyama still deserves the ROY award despite playing on a losing team. As for DPOY? Different story. Wembanyama has become a stellar defensive player with how he uses his length, athleticism and decision making to become an elite rim protector. Yet, he also has camouflaged the Spurs’ terrible defense elsewhere. 

Gobert has mirrored his defensive presence that won him three DPOY awards with the Utah Jazz with either blocking or altering shots. But he also has elevated Minnesota’s team defense with its schemes, communication and effort. 


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Sixth Man of the Year: Naz Reid

Technically, Reid has excelled as both a starter and a reserve. Yet, Reid’s strong play during Karl-Anthony Towns’ recent absence illustrates his value as a bench player. Reid can score both in the paint and from the perimeter. He can defend both at the rim and behind the arc. 

What about when the Wolves have a fully healthy roster? Reid fulfils his job description the same way. He may not have the same amount of shot attempts. Yet, Reid still offers various intangibles without complaint. 

Most Improved Player: Coby White

White has represented one of the Bulls’ lone bright spots in a season, otherwise soiled with overlapping injuries to Zach LaVine and Lonzo Ball. In his fifth NBA season, White has shown remarkable growth with his playmaking and outside shooting. He has played with more aggression while also staying more under control.

Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey also boasts a strong case for cementing his first All-Star appearance and thriving as the team’s No. 2 option following James’ Harden’s departure. Nonetheless, White deserves props for playing so well on a more depleted roster. 

Coach of the Year: Mark Daigneault

Daigneault has thrived as a young coach for his strong basketball mind, collaborative approach with players and for his well-prepared game plans. Daigneault hasn’t fallen into the trap that some young coaches do with becoming overly friendly with players near his age. Instead, Daigneault has earned his players’ respect for matching his strong work ethic with his pre-game preparation and his in-game adjustments. That has allowed Daigneault to grow organically with his young roster. 

*Any tips, predictions, or strategies published are entirely the opinion of the author, and are not guaranteed to be correct or result in financial gain. The Author is not an employee of Bovada. 

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