Kobe Bryant capped off an eventful 2015-2016 NBA regular season, with a historic 60-point performance Wednesday night in the final game of his Hall of Fame career. Unfortunately Bryant won’t be receiving any hardware this year, but we list our end of the season award winners, including several obvious selections:
Coach of the Year: Steve Kerr
Although assistant coach Luke Walton led the Golden State State Warriors to a 25-0 start and finished 39-4 in head coach Steve Kerr’s absence, Kerr will win this award easily.
Their have been some amazing coaching jobs around the NBA (Gregg Popovich, Terry Stotts and Brad Stevens) but when you are the head coach behind a team that sets an NBA record of 73-9, everything else is history.
Since taking over the reigns as head coach last year, all Kerr has done is lead the Warriors to an NBA championship last season, and a historic 73-9 record this season. Kerr know what winning looks like, after being a part of the Bulls’ 72-10 season, and winning multiple rings with the Bulls.
He has carried his winning ways as a head coach and it has been nothing short of impressive.
Most Improved Player: C.J. McCollum
C.J. McCollum has taken advantage of the Portland TrailBlazers (44-38) losing four of its five starters last season, and had a breakout season for the surprising No.5 seed in the Western Conference.
McCollum had a career year, averaging 20.8 points, 4.3 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game in 80 games he appeared in this season, in which were all starts. After seeing minimal playing time his first two seasons, only averaging 12.5 minutes his rookie year and 15.7 minutes last season and had a stint in the D-League with the Idaho Stampede, McCollum’s workload picked up drastically, averaging 34.8 minutes this season and dazzled with his ability to drive to the basket, and consistently hitting the jumper with a sweet stroke.
The improvement McCollum has made this season was incredible, and he should run away with the Most Improved Player award in a unanimous decision.
Rookie of the Year: Karl Anthony-Towns
The No.1 overall pick in last year’s NBA Draft was a monster for the young Minnesota Timberwolves all season.
The 7-footer, who played last year at Kentucky, started all 82 games for the Wolves, averaging 18.3 points, 10.5 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, and had a Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 22.59 in his rookie season. KAT has already turned into one of the best centers in the NBA, as he causes havoic in the post with his footwork and soft touch around the basket, ability to hit the mid-range jumper and extend to the three-point line, incredible finsher in transition, and plays good defense.
He has all of the tools to be a premiere big man in the NBA, and it’s good to see a 7-footer stay healthy and dominate.
Sixth Man of the Year: Jamal Crawford
Jamal Crawford will set an NBA record with his third Sixth Man of the Year award this season.
With Blake Griffin out for half of the season, Crawford provided instant offense consistently for the Los Angeles Clippers (53-29) all season, leading all bench players in scoring (14.2) and has provided much needed fourth quarter assistance for Chris Paul.
If the Clippers plan to finally reach their pinnacles and make the NBA Finals, they will need Crawford to continue his scoring ways off the bench and be reliable down the stretch of games.
Defensive Player of the Year: Hassan Whiteside
Many would argue that Kawhi Leonard or Draymond Green are deserving of this award (and rightfully so), but Hasaan Whiteside has had a historical season on the defensive side of the ball.
Whiteside had the highest average in blocks per game (3.68) in the last 15 years, and led the Miami Heat to a 101.6 Defensive Efficiency Rating, which was seventh in the league. The 7-footer also led the league in defensive rating (94.5) and double digit blocked shots with three. In his fourth season in the league and a plethora of overseas action, Whiteside has turned into a dominating presence under the rim. If a player is blocking shots at an unusual rate and leading his team to one of the top defenses in the league, it has to get rewarded.
Besides: what did Marc Gasol do in 2013 that Whiteside isn’t doing this season?
MVP: Stephen Curry
Easy choice here. LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Kawhi Leonard all should receive honorable mentions in capturing the leagues most prestigious individual award, but Curry has this one on lock. Curry has led the Golden State Warriors (73-9) to the best record in NBA history, set an NBA record with 402 made three-point field goals, won the scoring title, and led the league in PER at 31.56.
Out of all the fourth quarters Curry didn’t have to participate this year because of demolitions to other teams, he still averaged 30.1 points per game, 6.7 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game, which will most likely grant him his second consecutive MVP award. His unlimited range is mind boggling and you can’t play too close because he’ll either blow past the defender, or create just enough space to demoralize you with another three.
Easy choice here.