With the offseason throwing the landscape of the entire National Basketball Association into a flurry, there are many players destined to pop out surprise many, as well as some guys who might fall off the radar. Below is FOG prediction of how the upcoming season will play out with our two top candidates for each award.
Most Valuable Player
Paul George (Los Angeles Clippers)
PG13 is our frontrunner due to his move to Los Angeles in a blockbuster deal from the Thunder, in turn teaming up with Kawhi Leonard. Out of all the teams he has played with, Kawhi is far and away the best star he has had by his side. Under Doc Rivers and a very solid surrounding crew, look for Paul George to lead the Clippers offensively leading to a top 2 seed in the West and a run to the NBA finals.
Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets)
Nikola Jokic is unlike any player in the league whereas no one can do the things he can. Jokic consistently determines the pace of play in every game and leads the Nuggets in all three statistical categories. With a better surrounding crew than he has had in his career and the growth of small ball around the league, look for Jokic to take advantage of that and post career numbers in points, assists and rebounds.
Rookie of the Year
Michael Porter Jr (Denver Nuggets)
MPJ has battled back from a back injury among others and appears from film and reviews that he is back to prime shape. The Nuggets are bound to contend and we see MPJ as a key to that success, eventually slotting into the starting five. Nuggets remain a dark horse in the West, and MPJ can guard the 1-4 and creates a mismatch with almost every defender with the ball in his hands.
RJ Barrett (New York Knicks)
Barrett will be in contention for ROY due to pure opportunity in New York. The Knick fans and organizations expected big names in Zion Williamson, Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving to be the face of New York for the future, but fell short for all three. Consequently, the reigns have been handed to the third overall pick RJ Barrett. Likely to have a massive share of shots attempted and offensive initiation, therefore look for RJ Barrett to pack the stat sheet while the wins do not come.
Sixth Man of the Year
Spencer Dinwiddie (Brooklyn Nets)
Dinwiddie has been one of the most productive 6th men in the league for the last few seasons, and this season is the one where he is primed to snag this award. With Kyrie struggling through injuries for the last few seasons, along with a historically weak Eastern Conference, look for coach Kenny Atkinson to limit his minutes throughout the regular season, allowing large opportunity for Dinwiddie. Between Joe Harris, newly re-signed Caris Levert and Dinwiddie the Nets are certain to pour in the points from the backcourt. In 2018-2019, Dinwiddie only started 4 games but put up 16.8 points per game.
Domantas Sabonis (Indiana Pacers)
Sabonis is an extremely unique and consistently underrated in the modern NBA. In just five games started last season, Sabonis put up 14.1 points and 9.3 rebounds. He has a lot of old school NBA big man to his game and remains one of the strongest, technically sound rebounders in the league with some flash from the perimeter and as a playmaker. Look for Domantas Sabonis to gain some attention this season as an all- around big man.
Defensive Player of the Year
Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers)
The former lottery pick out of Texas has certainly proved his stock in two completes seasons. Turner started all 74 games he played in last season for the Pacers, putting up 2.7 blocks per game as well as consistently rising to the top of all the defensive rating lists. Elite timing plus an elite wingspan Turner is just getting started. Look for the 7 foot center to anchor the Indiana Pacers for the long term future.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (Mil Bucks)
The reigning MVP had the largest defensive win share statistic of every player in the league last season. He grabbed 27.3% of the Bucks defensive rebounds. Giannis grew on both sides last year, and with the MVP award, the offensive numbers will shine brighter, yet he consistently guarded the opposition’s best player and continuously shut them down. The combination of length, strength, quickness and the improved defensive IQ gives Giannis an incredibly strong trajectory on the defensive side. No one in the league wants to match up with a 7 foot wing who is likely longer, stronger and quicker than the opponent. Look for Giannis’s defensive skillset to gain some traction this season.
Most Improved Player
Ricky Rubio (Phoenix Suns)
The Phoenix Suns have put together a solid core along side Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton. Cameron Johnson, Dario Saric and Ricky Rubio look to be the keys if the Suns want to finally rise out of the depth of the NBA. All reviews and reports from Phoenix have been incredibly positive thus far in regards to Rubio and the fit with the organization.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (OKC Thunder)
Gilgeous-Alexander was a standout his entire rookie season for the Clippers, eventually swapped to OKC as the main player in the Paul George trade. SGA shines as a playmaker and defensive stopper with strong intangibles for a point guard. He loves to run in transition, and although the Thunder roster is currently underwhelming, look for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to be one of those lead guards who elevates the play of his teammates.
Coach of the Year
Rick Carlisle (Dallas Mavericks)
We will finally see a healthy Kristaps Porzingis, who has certainly put on a significant amount of mass, playing with a young star guard in Luka Doncic. The Mavs continue to surround the core with strong role players by acquiring Seth Curry, Delon Wright and resigning Dwight Powell.
Lloyd Pierce (Atlanta Hawks)The Hawks hit the jackpot landing a top 4 talent at the 10 spot in the NBA Draft by landing Cam Reddish. There is not a better young core in the league than what Lloyd Pierce has in Atlanta. If Trae Young and John Collins can continue to elevate their game and the Hawks wind up in a playoff spot in the East, Lloyd Pierce will gain a ton of traction in the coaching worl