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NBA Awards Predictions

By: VINCENT MENDOZA / STAFF WRITER


Re-designed NBA Award Trophies (Photo via NBA on TNT Instagram)

The 2023-2024 NBA regular season has been nothing short of unbelievable. Throughout the season, NBA fans have been blessed with many historic performances from a multitude of players, ranging from up-and-coming young stars to veterans who continue to leave their mark on the sport. 


As the regular season comes to a close,  award season rapidly approaches. From MVP to Coach of the Year, Here are the clear favorites to win each of the seven major NBA end-of-season awards.


NOTE - To qualify for end-of-season awards, a player must play a minimum of 65 games. For example, Houston Rockets’ center Alperen Sengun doesn’t qualify for any awards because he only played 63 games. 



Kia NBA Most Valuable Player: Luka Dončić

Runner up: Nikola Jokić


Luka Dončić screaming (Photo via Sports Illustrated)

If there was one word to describe Luka Dončić’s regular season, it would be his nickname, MAGIC! In 70 games played, the Slovenian guard averaged a league-leading 33.9 ppg, 9.2 rpg (ranked 15th overall, first amongst guards) and 9.8 apg, only behind Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton. He racked up these video game numbers while shooting an efficient 48.7% from the field, 38.2% from three and 78.6% from the free throw line. 


The Mavericks point guard also finished first in total points with 2730, 18th in total rebounds with 647, third in total assists with 698 and third in triple-doubles, totaling 21 on the season. 


It is no surprise Dončić also led the league with 13 40-point games and finished second in 30-point games, just one behind Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous Alexander who had 51.


Additionally, on January 26, Donćič erupted for 73 points with ten rebounds and seven assists against the Atlanta Hawks. Luka’s incredible scoring display was the most points scored by a player in a single game all season.


Dončić’s 73 Points Leads Dallas Mavericks Past Atlanta Hawks (Photo via Sports Illustrated)

Donćič also led Dallas to the fifth seed in the Western Conference, ending the regular season with 50 wins and 32 losses. 


In one of the most competitive MVP races in recent history, Luka Dončić left a lasting imprint on the league that will likely result in him adding his first MVP Award to his already impressive resume.  



Kia NBA Rookie of the Year: Victor Wembanyama

Runner Up: Chet Holmgren


Victor Wembanyama Dunking Over Drew Eubanks (Photo via New York Post)

Not only did Victor Wembanyama live up to the hype, he absolutely crushed it and exceeded everyone’s expectations. In 71 games played, the 7’4” French phenom averaged 21.4 ppg (1st), 10.6 rpg (1st), 3.9 apg (4th), 1.2 spg (2nd) and 3.6 bpg (1st) among rookies. 


Not only did Wembanyama rank within the top four in every major statistical category among rookies in averages, he also ranked first in totals in every major statistical category besides assists, in which he placed third. Although the San Antonio Spurs finished 14th in the West with a record of 22-60, Wembanyama’s case for Rookie of the Year remained unmatched. 



Kia Defensive Player of the Year: Victor Wembanyama

Runner Up: Rudy Gobert


Victor Wembanyama Historical Season Stats (Photo via Bleacher Report Instagram)

Although the Spurs ranked 22nd in defensive rating and 25th in opponent points per game, Wembanyama displayed pure dominance on the defensive end throughout the 2023-2024 regular season. 


Not only did the 7’4” big man lead rookies in total blocks (254) and blocks per game (3.6) but he led the entire NBA in both categories. Wembanyama also finished eighth in rpg (10.6), tenth in total rebounds (775), first in block percentage (10%) and second in individual defensive rating (105.8), only behind Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert. On top of all that, Wembanyama had 24 games this season where he totaled 5 or more blocks in a single game, which is 15 more than Milwaukee Bucks center Brook Lopez who finished second with nine. 


Even if Victor Wembanyama doesn’t win Defensive Player of the Year, his rookie season will go down as one of the greatest in NBA history.



Kia NBA Most Improved Player: Coby White

Runner Up: Tyrese Maxey


Coby White Becoming a Star Player for Chicago (Photo via WBEZ Chicago)

After coming off a disappointing 2022-2023 season, the Chicago Bulls guard stepped up big time for them this season. In 79 games played, White averaged 19.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg and 4.6 apg in 36.4 minutes per game. Compared to last year, White jumped up 9.3 ppg, 2.2 rpg and 1.8 apg. 


These jumps in stats can also be credited to the Bulls lack of depth at the guard positions. 2018 second-overall pick Lonzo Ball missed the entire season with knee complications and two-time All-Star Zach Lavine missed 57 games due to multiple injuries throughout the season. 


In a matchup against the Sacramento Kings on March 4, White achieved career highs in points in a single game and game score. White led the Bulls to a 113-109 victory, finishing with 37 points, five rebounds and 7 assists on 14/19 from the field, 5/9 from three and 4/5 from the line, with a game score of 32.1.


In a disappointing year for the Chicago Bulls, Coby White gave fans and management something to be excited about for years to come.



Kia NBA Sixth Man of the Year: Malik Monk

Runner Up: Naz Reid


Malik Monk Scores a Season-High 39 points in a Win Against the Minnesota Timberwolves (Photo via The Athletic)

Sacramento Kings guard Malik Monk continued to display why he is one of the best, if not the best sixth man in the entire league. Throughout his 72 games played, Monk averaged 15.4 ppg, 2.9 rpg and 5.1 apg in 26 minutes of action on 44.3/35.0/82.9 splits. He did it without starting a single game the entire year. 


Monk was a much-needed spark plug off the bench for the Kings, assisting them in finishing with a record of 46-36, putting them as the nine seed in the Western Conference. Unfortunately, Monk suffered a sprained MCL, sidelining him for their do-or-die play-in game versus the Golden State Warriors but what he did throughout the regular season was nothing short of spectacular. 



Kia Clutch Player of the Year: Stephen Curry

Runner Up: Demar DeRozan


Stephen Curry Sleeping Celebration (Photo via NBA.com)

Throughout Stephen Curry’s career, many fans and analysts have deemed him not clutch but that narrative has died down this season. Clutch time can be defined as the last five minutes of a game when the point differential is five or less.


Through 43 clutch time games played, Curry finished first in the league in total points with 189, shooting 49.6%from the field, 45.7% from the field on a league-leading 70 attempts and 95.1% from the free throw line. In the last ten seconds of games in clutch time, Curry scored a total of 24 points, tied with Chicago Bulls wing Demar DeRozan. 


In those 43 games, the Warriors finished with a record of 23-20, with 32 of their 43 games being played against Western Conference teams (15-17). 


There were many instances of Curry being clutch, but one of the most memorable ones took place towards the middle of the season. On February 10, the Golden State Warriors found themselves down 112-110 to the Phoenix Suns, who had their healthy big three of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal. With 3.3 seconds left, Warriors rookie Brandin Podziempski inbounded the ball to Curry who hit a game-winning three-pointer with 0.7 seconds left to lead the Warriors to a 113-112 victory over the Suns.


Stephen Curry Game-Winner Lifts Warriors past Suns (Photo via NBA.com)

This season, Stephen Curry showed no signs of slowing down anytime soon and some would even say he’s improved, especially in the clutch. The two-time MVP and four-time NBA Champ will look to extend their season as they face the Sacramento Kings in the #9 vs #10 Western Conference play-in game.  



Kia NBA Coach of the Year: Mark Daigneault (Oklahoma City Thunder)

Runner Up: Chris Finch (Minnesota Timberwolves) 


Thunder coach Mark Daigneault on continuing the climb (Photo via NBA.com)

Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault has helped his franchise reach heights they haven’t seen in a decade. Daigneault led the Thunder to a 57-25 record, finishing with the number one seed in the Western Conference. This achievement is even more impressive when viewing the hyper-competitiveness of the conference this season. 11 out 15 teams finished with a record of at least 41-41 and the top ten teams all finished with at least 46 wins. 


Oklahoma City displayed dominance on both ends of the floor, finishing third in ppg (120.1), third in offensive rating (119.5), fourth in defensive rating (112.1) and second in net rating (+7.4).


What makes their season all the more impressive is their age. The Thunder roster had an average age of 23.4, making them the youngest team in NBA history to win at least 55 games. In comparison to the rest of the league, Oklahoma had the second youngest roster, only behind the San Antonio Spurs.


This team gives many fans flashes of the Thunder teams in the early 2010’s, fostering three future MVP’s in Kevin Durant (2014), Russell Westbrook (2017) and James Harden (2018), as well as making an NBA Finals appearance in 2012 against the big three Miami Heat. NBA analysts and experts believe this squad is just getting started and with a coach like Mark Daigneault and a front office led by one of the best minds in basketball in Sam Presti, the Oklahoma City Thunder could be a top team in the west for years to come. 

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