The second annual NBA Awards show takes places on Monday, June 25, at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California, and it will be a star-studded event where all of the league’s marquee regular-season accolades will be given.
The most anticipated trophy to be handed out, of course, is the Most Valuable Player Award, which may be a landslide victory for Houston Rockets guard James Harden.
The closest race will likely be for the Rookie of the Year honor, which will be a showdown between Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons and Utah Jazz forward Donovan Mitchell.
The Sager Strong award will go to retired center Dikembe Mutombo, and the lifetime achievement award will go to Oscar Robertson.
This year’s show will be hosted by funnyman Anthony Anderson in a huge pivot from last year’s host Drake.
Presenters include DJ Khaled, Snoop Dogg, Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley, with Travis Scott scheduled as the musical performer on the night.
For those interested in catching the action, here is how and when to watch the broadcast, as well as predictions for who will take home the hardware.
Where: Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California
When: Monday, June 25 at 9 p.m. ET
Most Valuable Player
Nominees: James Harden (HOU), Anthony Davis (NOLA), LeBron James (CLE)
Let’s face it, LeBron James could easily win the MVP every year, not only because he’s the best player on the planet, but because he drags subpar teams to the NBA Finals every year.
But that’s not how the award works.
That’s good news for Harden.
This is the two-time runner-up’s year to win it, and it’s not even close.
He was the best player on the best team in the league this year, and even with Chris Paul shouldering some of the load at point guard, he seemed to be able to take his play up another notch this season.
Harden led the league in scoring at 30.4 points per game, no doubt as a result of his league-leading 265 made three-pointers, and his 8.8 assists per outing was good enough for fourth in the league.
Just for good measure, if you add in the fact that he made the All-NBA first team for the fourth time in five seasons, there is every reason to award him the Maurice Podoloff trophy.
Rookie of the Year
Nominees: Donovan Mitchell (UTAH), Ben Simmons (PHI), Jayson Tatum (BOS)
Los Angeles Lakers rookie Kyle Kuzma surprised everyone this past season with the way he played, and Boston Celtics small forward Jayson Tatum played even better, cementing his status as a player to watch with his spectacular play in the playoffs.
But when it comes to the ROY award, there’s only two players who really matter: Philadelphia 76ers guard Simmons and Utah Jazz forward Mitchell.
Mitchell was nothing short of amazing for the Jazz, and he stepped up to lead them in the postseason. He was versatile, he was dynamic and he was not afraid of the moment. If he won the award, it wouldn’t be considered a crime.
But then there’s Simmons, who didn’t play like or look like a rookie all season long. At 6’10”, the point guard captained a 76ers team to the third-best record in the Eastern Conference and a strong showing in the playoffs.
Simmons averaged 16.3 points, 8.1 rebounds and 8.2 assists on the year with a player efficiency rating of 20.03, which is better than Mitchell, who had a PER of 16.74.
Nominees: Eric Gordon (HOU), Fred VanVleet (TOR), Lou Williams (LAC)
Last year’s winner Eric Gordon of the Houston Rockets had another award-worthy year shooting long balls to the tune of 18 points per game.
Gordon added 2.2 assists and 2.5 rebounds per outing for the league’s best team, and if this were any other year, he might repeat.
Williams dropped 50 points on the Golden State Warriors in a 125-106 winning effort, and he averaged a career-high 22.6 points and 5.3 assists per game while posting a player efficiency rating of 20.29.
Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet was another deserving player, but Williams, who won the award in 2015, will take home his second trophy this year.
Coach of the Year
Nominees: Dwane Casey (TOR), Quin Snyder (UTAH), Brad Stevens (BOS)
Dwane Casey already won the Coach of the Year award voted by the coaches and is a finalist here after leading the Toronto Raptors to the best record in the Eastern Conference, but he lost his job after his team was swept by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the postseason.
No one would raise a ruckus if Casey won, but it’s Brad Stevens who should win it this year because of the masterful job he did with the injury-depleted Boston Celtics.
Before the season began, the Celtics were picked as favorites to topple the Cavs, anchored by the additions of Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving.
Even with both of those players on the sidelines, Stevens led Boston to within one game of eliminating Cleveland and making the NBA Finals.
This is a regular season award, so the postseason doesn’t count, but Stevens still led the team to 55 wins and the second-best record in the Eastern Conference.
Most Improved Player
Nominees: Clint Capela (HOU), Spencer Dinwiddie (BKN), Victor Oladipo (IND)
There’s no denying that Houston Rockets center Clint Capela had a great year.
He improved in a number of categories from the 2017 season to the 2018 season, going from 12.6 to 13.9 points per game and 8.1 to 10.8 rebounds per outing while serving as the defensive anchor for the best team in the league.
Capela no doubt played his way into a lucrative new contract this offseason, but he won’t be adding this award to his collection just yet.
The runaway winner is Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo.
Pacers Nation was in the doldrums when the team lost Paul George for Oladipo, initially, but what fans didn’t know was that a burgeoning superstar was acquired in return.
Oladipo went from averaging 15.9 points per game for the Oklahoma City Thunder to 23.1 points per game for Indiana.
He won six extra games for the Pacers this year and took the Cleveland Cavaliers to a Game 7 in the playoffs.
Another big shift in Oladipo’s favor is he got his first All-Star nod.
Defensive Player of the Year
Nominees: Rudy Gobert (UTAH), Joel Embiid (PHI), Anthony Davis (NOLA)
Last year, Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz lost this award to Draymond Green, who was deserving in his own right.
But this is Gobert’s turn.
The big Frenchman was a dominant force in the middle, anchoring Utah’s smothering defense.
The Jazz have a defensive rating of 104.4, good for third best in the league, and they allowed just 98 points per 100 possessions.
Gobert was the main reason for that, even though he missed 26 games due to a knee injury.
The fact that he missed a third of the season could have been a big knock against Gobert, but Joel Embiid missed 19 games, too.
Anthony Davis is a force on the defensive end, but the New Orleans Pelicans had the sixth-best defense in the league compared to Utah in third, which makes Gobert the easy choice this year.
Other awards scheduled to be given out are the Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award, NBA Sportsmanship Award, NBA Basketball Executive of the Year, the season-long NBA Cares Community Assist Award and the fan-voted Play of the Year.