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2017-18 NBA AWARDS

By Will Baldwin

@Baldwin31

The 2017-18 NBA season was full of the kind of drama that the 2017 off season seemed to predict. With perennial All-Stars Chris Paul, Paul George, Jimmy Butler, Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving and even Carmelo Anthony changing homes, this season brought all kinds of story lines for fans to dig into. We saw a rookie class full of surprises and great players take the league by storm even while LeBron James in his fifteenth NBA season continued to remind us of his greatness. Teams like the Toronto Raptors and Houston Rockets seemed to take the next step in their development as organizations while others took steps in “competing” for a higher draft pick. In the end, it was a season to remember for fans with moments that won’t soon be forgotten and, in honour of these great moments, here is the 2017-18 NBA Awards as presented by air-ball.com!

Individual Awards

Most Valuable Player
James Harden- Houston Rockets

If 2016-17 was James Harden’s official coming out as a superstar then, 2017-18 was his confirmation. Harden once again thrived in Head Coach Mike D’Antoni’s system as the main ball handler and even in sharing the ball with new teammate Chris Paul found an amazing amount of success. 2018 was Harden’s best season not only as an individual but also, as a teammate. The Beard lead his Rockets to the best record in the NBA will simultaneously leading the NBA in scoring and finishing third in assists per game. Each night he stepped on the floor, it was more likely than not something amazing happened, including a 60 point triple double, the first of its’ kind in NBA History, and eleven 40 plus point efforts. Harden was not only the most consistent, best player in the NBA this season but also, in leading his team to the best record in the NBA, it is impossible to deny James of the MVP in the 2017-18 NBA season.

Honorable Mentions
Anthony Davis- New Orleans Pelicans
LeBron James- Cleveland Cavaliers

Defensive Player of the Year
Rudy Gobert- Utah Jazz

Winning without a true superstar is difficult in the NBA unless you’re the Utah Jazz, and you employ a player as gifted as Rudy Gobert. At this point with his obvious value, Utah’s defensive rating is more than seven points per 100 possessions better when Gobert’s on the court than when he’s not, it may be time to alter the term “superstar” to fit Gobert’s profile. The French national has been a dominant player for multiple years but continuously is disrespected nationally largely due to the small market he plays in and, his lack of consistent health. However, ask anyone who watches the Jazz play and even in a season where the big centre only played 56 games, it is impossible to deny his impact. When Gobert returned to Utah’s lineup in January they were 18-26. From that point on, the Jazz finished 30-8 behind their anchors return. The only way someone can argue against Gobert is to say 56 games is not enough to earn the award but at some point, impact and production can even outweigh minutes played and that, is why Rudy Gobert is the 2017-18 Defensive Player of the Year. 

Honourable Mentions
Anthony Davis- New Orleans Pelicans
Victor Oladipo- Indiana Pacers

Coach of the Year
Brad Stevens- Boston Celtics

Five minutes into the 2017-18 NBA season, everything changed for Brad Stevens and the Boston Celtics. That’s all it took for prized free agent addition and former player of Stevens at Butler, Gordon Hayward, to have his season ended by a disastrous injury. Stevens was then forced to reach into his bench and rely on 20 year old rookie Jayson Tatum and second year player Jaylen Brown more than anyone in the Celtics organization anticipated. Add in the fact he was already trying to fit into his offence All-Star and first year Celtic Kyrie Irving and it seemed like Boston was destined to struggle this season. But they never did. Even with Irving’s season ending abruptly in March, Stevens still managed to have his Celtics finish second in the Eastern Conference. A collection of youngsters, journeymen and Al Horford yet somehow, they accomplished an impressive 55-27. Brad Stevens had to deal with adversity at seemingly every corner this season but, still was able to lead his team as a power of the Eastern Conference and for that, Stevens is the 2017-18 Coach of the Year. 

Honourable Mentions
Quin Snyder- Utah Jazz
Dwane Casey- Toronto Raptors

Rookie of the Year
Donovan Mitchell- Utah Jazz

Sports can be really cruel. One moment your team is finally making strides after years of ineptitude and the next, the star player responsible for a lot of those strides is gone to a major market, and you as a smaller market are left asking ‘what can we do?’ That in July, was how Utah Jazz fans were feeling after All-Star forward Gordon Hayward decided to leave for Boston. But, unlike many stories like this with similar beginnings, it appears this one has a happy ending. See, in stepped a late lottery pick with little expectations and what happened next can only be described as amazing. Donovan Mitchell this season not only carried a franchise that seemed to be lost back to the NBA playoffs but also, had to do it without star centre Rudy Gobert for 26 games right in the middle of the NBA season. Mitchell not only lead the number five seed Jazz in scoring, he was also the spark plug this team and fan base needed time and again and for that, he is the 2017-18 NBA Rookie of the Year. 

Honourable Mentions
Ben Simmons- Philadelphia 76ers
Jayson Tatum- Boston Celtics

Sixth Man of the Year
Lou Williams- Los Angeles Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers 2017-18 season was initially supposed to be one last shot with the big three of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan but, when Paul decided to leave for Houston, the trade that sent him there brought back more than Clippers fans could have hoped for. In a trade full of journeyman and young bench players, one journeyman stood above the rest in his importance. Lou Williams was about to join his fifth franchise since 2013-14 and had still yet to find a true home. For the next 79 games in a Clippers uniform, Williams would not only find a long term home, he would carry a franchise that had not just lost Paul but had also decided to part ways with former number one overall pick Blake Griffin. Williams would lead the Clippers to 42 wins and a near All-Star bid for himself, an incredible accomplishment for a journeyman sixth man who just wanted to find a home. Congratulations Lou on not only finding a home but also, being the 2017-18 NBA Sixth Man of the Year.  

Honourable Mentions
Eric Gordon- Houston Rockets
Fred VanVleet- Toronto Raptors

Most Improved Player of the Year
Victor Oladipo- Indiana Pacers

When the Indiana Pacers traded Paul George to the Oklahoma City Thunder, not only could no one believe how little they got for him, the fact guard Victor Oladipo was being paid more than George seemed like some kind of sick joke for Pacers fans. What happened next though seemed to be out of a movie. Oladipo would report to Pacers camp in the best shape of his life and then would proceed to lead Indiana to the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference and, the same record as George’s Thunder! Oladipo would average 23 points per game, a career high, play in his first All-Star game but most importantly, the fifth year guard out of ironically Indiana would become the leader the Pacers needed. Victor Oladipo not only inspired his teammates but also a fan base that felt betrayed by George and in doing so not only proved he was the 2017-18 NBA’s Most Improved Player, he also proved he will be a star in this league for years to come.

Honourable Mentions
Kristaps Porzingis- New York Knicks
Spencer Dinwiddie- Brooklyn Nets

All NBA TEAMS

First Team
Guard- Damian Lillard- Portland Trail-Blazers
Guard- James Harden- Houston Rockets
Forward- LeBron James- Cleveland Cavaliers
Forward- Kevin Durant- Golden State Warriors
Center- Anthony Davis- New Orleans Pelicans

Second Team
Guard- Demar DeRozan- Toronto Raptors
Guard- Russell Westbrook- Oklahoma City Thunder
Forward- Jimmy Butler- Minnesota Timberwolves
Forward- Giannis Antetokounmpo- Milwaukee Bucks
Center- Joel Embiid- Philadelphia 76ers

Third Team​
Guard- Stephen Curry- Golden State Warriors
Guard- Victor Oladipo- Indiana Pacers
Forward- LaMarcus Aldridge- San Antonio Spurs
Forward- Al Horford- Boston Celtics
Center- Rudy Gobert- Utah Jazz

All Defensive Team
Guard- Victor Oladipo- Indiana Pacers
Guard- Dejounte Murray- San Antonio Spurs
Forward- Anthony Davis- New Orleans Pelicans
Forward- Al Horford- Boston Celtics
Center- Rudy Gobert- Utah Jazz

All Rookie Team
Guard- Ben Simmons- Philadelphia 76ers
Guard- Donovan Mitchell- Utah Jazz
Forward- Jayson Tatum- Boston Celtics
Forward- Kyle Kuzma- Los Angeles Lakers
Forward- Lauri Markkanen- Chicago Bulls

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