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Early predictions: NBA award front runners

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29th October, 2018
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It’s a few games into the regular season and I think the popular award conversation is starting to take shape.

But who is the front runner of each individual award?

MVP – Kawhi Leonard

Other candidates – Giannis Antetokounmpo, Blake Griffin, Anthony Davis
Leonard has the three major components when it comes to winning an MVP. The storyline plays a slight role in the decision and I’m sure we all are quite aware of the mysterious situation in San Antonio that led to the two-time defensive player of the year being dealt to the Toronto Raptors.

Since the season kick-off the Raptors have remained undefeated (barring tomorrow’s game against Milwaukee) including a blowout against the Eastern Conference favourites the Boston Celtics.

Leonard has led the way on both sides of the court with stat line averages of 26-points and eight rebounds. If the Raptors secure 60+ wins and Leonard continues to keep up the work, I believe he will head into his much-anticipated free-agency with an MVP award in his trophy case.

Kawhi Leonard takes on Luka Doncic

Dallas Mavericks forward Luka Doncic (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)

Rookie of the Year – Luka Doncic

Other candidates – Deandre Ayton, Trae Young, Jaren Jackson Jr
Luka Doncic is already a proven basketball player and I’m confident everyone is aware of his achievements at such a young age. The promise he showed in the Euro league has translated well into his rookie season in the NBA.

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Putting up stat line averages of 18.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4 assists-per game. It is also highly likely that Doncic will lead his team to a better record than Ayton and Young which will lean in his favour when the voters sit down to cast their vote.

Luka Doncic makes a layup over Karl Anthony Towns

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez)

Most Improved Player – Zach Lavine

Other candidates – Deaaron Fox, Jarret Allen, Nikola Mirotic
Zach Lavine is currently the clear favourite for the award and most likely the answer to who this year’s Victor Oladipo will become.

Being the first Chicago Bulls player since Michael Jordan to put up 30+ points-per-game in the opening four games of the season, Lavine is on his way to attain his first all-star selection. If the Bulls can get some wins and Lavine continues this production, then there is no doubt he will run away with the trophy.

Defensive Player of the Year – Rudy Gobert

Other candidates – Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid
Honestly, I haven’t looked much into the defensive statistics this season and to be fair the award is one of the least exciting of the bunch.

Having said that I believe the Jazz can be a top three team in the West which and you don’t get that high playing poor defence.

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Likewise to last season, Gobert will be the defensive anchor of the Jazz and that leads me to believe he can grab a second straight DPOY award.

Rudy Gobert

Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz gets to the basket past Andre Drummond #0 of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Sixth Man – J.J Redick
Other candidates – Eric Gordon, Fred Vanvleet, Lou Williams
Firstly, J.J Redick shouldn’t be coming off the bench and that is what distances him from the other regular candidates.

However, he is coming off the bench behind the underwhelming 2017 no.1 pick Markelle Fultz and he easily leads as this year’s front-runner for the sixth man award. He currently averages 20-points-per-game and is a top three shooter in the league, making him a no brainer choice.