James Harden, this season has played out of his mind leading the Rockets to a league’s best 65-17. The only NBA team this season to reach 60 wins, its been an impressive run. His play last season was the first step and this season he turned it up a notch averaging 30 points and 9 assists and 5 boards. He’s been consistent with his play all year so I salute you James Harden, on keeping us entertained this entire NBA season.
Although he may not win the award, he is averaging 2.3 block per game which is 2nd in the league if you look at the chart. Being a defender is more than stats, his presence on the court alone has helped the the Jazz finished the season 2nd in team defensive rating. Without his presence on the floor and the brilliance of Donovan Mitchell, no way this team finishes 5th in the West (tied for 4th). Also only averaging about 3 fouls a game, so he’s always on the floor when needed.
Ben Simmons has lived up to the hype by leading the Sixers to the 3-seed in the eastern conference. I didn’t think the Sixers would finish that high, but their front office surrounded their young players with solid vets and were able to finish the season with a surprising 52 wins. His floor game is so effective even without a consistent jump shot even got LeBron James calling him “The Fresh Prince.” Donovan Mitchell was lighting it up out West, but Ben Simmons was putting up All-Star numbers even when the Sixers were sub .500 earlier in the season. If Joel Embiid didn’t get voted in by the fans, he would have definitely been an All-Star in his rookie campaign.
I’ve been watching the Raptors all season long and the bench was part of their explosive season. Fred VanVleet literally ran that bench unit and kept them going. When he was called to close games with the starters, he hit clutch buckets all in his 2nd season. There were times when the Raptors were ready to unravel, but VanVleet was actually composed during those times and handled the floor game the right way. I don’t believe the Raptors bench is as good as it is if it wasn’t for FVV. His numbers don’t stand out like the other 6th man candidates but this guy is a true pro and deserves the praise for the season he just completed. People will see once the playoffs begin.
As a Pacer fan, you might feel this is a bias opinion but what Victor Oladipo has done for the Pacers this season can’t be put into words. He played his heart out every night while elevating his teammates leading the Pacers to 48 wins. They were projected by many to miss the playoffs, but all of that changed when he pulled up and hit that game winner against the Spurs earlier in the season. That moment, told me, that this guy is going to be special, not only this season, but for the rest of his career as a Pacer. He’s pretty much having a career year and preparing to shock the world come playoff time.
So you lose two of your best players and still finish 2nd in the east that’s coach of the year in my book. You can give Dwane Casey the nod, but when you get your 2nd tier players and rookies to buy in and get them to execute at a high level it deserves all the praise in the world. A lot of people are counting the Celtics out in the playoffs, but I just can’t, they won’t go away, they play until the final buzzer sounds, they will be hard to beat, and that’s because of Brad Stevens.
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