Predicting The NBA’s Major Award Winners in 2014-15

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This past season we saw Kevin Durant go on a historic scoring binge and win his first MVP. Durant dazzled throughout the season and was particularly special during the absence of Russell Westbrook, making a case early on for the NBA’s highest individual honor. Durant has long been recognized as one of the league’s best, but to win an MVP during a time where LeBron James is still at the top of his game speaks volumes to the type of season he was able to put together.

Durant wasn’t the only player to elevate his game to new heights in 2013-14; Joakim Noah had arguably the best year of his career and was key in the Bulls’ success, especially after losing Derrick Rose to an injury again. Noah was a force defensively; he led the league in both defensive rating (95.8) and defensive win shares (6.6). His dominance on that end of floor didn’t go unnoticed as he ran away with the Defensive Player of the Year award, receiving 100 of 125 first place votes from the voting panel of sportswriters and broadcasters.

Among the other award winners from 2013-14 – Rookie of the Year went to Michael Carter-Williams, who despite playing on one of the most talent depleted rosters in recent memory, was able to remain productive all year long. Goran Dragic played spectacular on a Suns team that wasn’t expected to sniff the playoffs. Although the Suns did fall just short of a playoff berth, Dragic was able to guide the team to an impressive 48 win season and was awarded the Most Improved Player of the Year. Jamal Crawford provided the Clippers with an elite scoring option off the bench, averaging 17.2 ppg in games where he came off the bench, and was named the Sixth Man of the Year for the second time in his career. The two major non-player awards, Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year, both went to members of the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs. Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford combined to lead the Spurs to their fourth title since Buford joined the organization in 2002 and won the top awards for their positions as a result.

Now that we’ve taken a brief look back at the award winners of this past season and with the 2014-2015 season rapidly approaching, three of Basketball Insiders experts, Yannis Koutroupis, Nate Duncan and Eric Pincus, give their predictions on who they think will take home the hardware this season.

The Predictions:

Yannis Koutroupis

MVP – Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers

Defensive Player of the Year – LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

Rookie of the Year – Nerlens Noel, Philadelphia 76ers

Sixth Man of the Year – Boris Diaw, San Antonio Spurs

Most Improved Player – C.J. Miles, Indiana Pacers

Coach of the Year – David Blatt, Cleveland Cavaliers

Executive of the Year – David Griffin, Cleveland Cavaliers

Nate Duncan

MVP – LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

Defensive Player of the Year – Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans

Rookie of the Year – Jabari Parker, Milwaukee Bucks

Sixth Man of the Year – Taj Gibson, Chicago Bulls

Most Improved Player – Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans

Coach of the Year – Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs

Executive of the Year – David Griffin, Cleveland Cavaliers

Eric Pincus

MVP – LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

Defensive Player of the Year – DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers

Rookie of the Year – Jabari Parker, Milwaukee Bucks

Sixth Man of the Year – Taj Gibson, Chicago Bulls

Most Improved Player – Tim Hardaway Jr., New York Knicks

Coach of the Year – Tom Thibodeau, Chicago Bulls

Executive Of The Year – David Griffin, Cleveland Cavaliers

This season is one that will be filled with plenty of intrigue, with no team being more interesting than the Cleveland Cavaliers. The much ballyhooed return of LeBron James dominated headlines throughout the offseason and makes the team an immediate title contender. It didn’t take long for general manager David Griffin to acquire another supremely talented piece to play alongside James and Kyrie Irving, making a trade to bring Kevin Love to Cleveland in late August. These moves, as well as the additions of veterans Mike Miller and Shawn Marion, make the Cavs early favorites to win it all and certainly make Griffin an early favorite to take home the Executive of the Year Award. Griffin, as you can see, is the only unanimous choice as an award winner among our predicting panel.

It figures be a competitive race across the board as to who deserves to take home each award. There will young players, guys like Anthony Davis and Damien Lilliard, eager to prove that their names shouldn’t be overlooked when the major awards are handed out. As well, the usual suspects like LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul will look to continue their superior play and build on their hall of fame resumes. It will be interesting to see which players can separate themselves from the pack as the season progresses and who proves most deserving of each award come seasons end.

Leave a comment and let us know what your award predictions are and see if you can out pick our experts.