The NBA finally announced their award winners on Monday night, a good six weeks after the season ended.
Despite the long gap, there was still some intrigue with some of the awards, especially Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. The winners:
Rookie of the Year: Ben Simmons
Simmons had a stellar year, and showed the potential to be a transcendent player en route to 16 points, eight rebounds and eight assists per game while helping lead the Philadelphia 76ers to 52 wins. Simmons only real competition came from Utah Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell.
Most Improved Player: Victor Oladipo
A year after being traded from the Thunder in exchange for Paul George in what seemed like a lopsided deal for the Thunder, Victor Oladipo broke out in a big-time way. Oladipo made his first All-NBA team and averaged 23 points per game on 47 percent shooting from the field while leading the NBA with 2.4 steals per game.
Defensive Player of the Year: Rudy Gobert
Despite missing 26 games, Rudy Gobert showed just how valuable his defensive chops are for the Utah Jazz, leading them to a massive second half upon his return. Gobert, one of the premier shot-blockers and interior defenders in the NBA, had a 99 DRtg in the 2017-18 season en route to his first DPOY award. Gobert faced stiff competition from the likes of Draymond Green and Anthony Davis this season, though he may have benefited from Kawhi Leonard’s absence.
Sixth Man of the Year: Lou Williams
Sweet Lou took his late career resurgence to the next level in 2017-18, averaging a career high 22 points and five assists per game a 32 minutes a night for the Clippers. Williams previously won the award in 2015 with the Toronto Raptors.
Coach of the Year: Dwane Casey
Dwane Casey led the Toronto Raptors to a franchise-record 59 wins before running into the buzzsaw that is LeBron James in the playoffs. Despite LeBron owning the Eastern Conference for nearly a decade, Casey was relieved of his duties this offseason, and was just hired as head coach by the Detroit Pistons. Casey faced stiff competition from the likes of Quinn Snyder and Brad Stevens.
Executive of the Year: Daryl Morey
After the 2016-17 season, Morey declared an “arms race’ in the Western Conference and then took a very good Houston Rockets team and managed a crazy, multi-transaction trade to snag Chris Paul. Additionally, the acquisitions of Gerald Green, Joe Johnson, P.J.Tucker, and Luc Mbah ah Moute paid dividends at various times throughout the season.
Most Valuable Player: James Harden
Last season’s runner up, Harden was the model of efficiency in 2017-18. Harden averaged a career-high 30.4 points per game on virtually nothing but layups, free throws and 3-pointers. Despite adding Chris Paul to the Mike D’Antoni-run Houston Rockets, Harden averaged a hair under nine assists as well. Perhaps more importantly (for a regular season award), Harden led the Rockets to the first-seed in the Western Conference, ending the Warriors multi-year run on top of the regular season standings.