Michael Jordan will forever have the universal acclaim but when it comes to Chicago’s late 1990s dynasty, Steve Kerr is the player who beats even “His Airness” when it comes to respect.
After four weeks of NBA action here are my leaders of some of the key awards in the best basketball competition in the world.
Defensive player of the year: Rudy Gobert
This award is one of my favourites in the NBA as defence is the most important concept for winning a championship. Rudy Gobert has shown he has what it takes so far this season to win this award.
Gobert is currently third in the NBA in rebounds with 13.5 boards per game and second in blocks behind Myles Turner with 2.7 blocks per game.
Gobert has led his Utah Jazz team to great success up to this stage of the season – they’re currently the second seed in the west with a 12-4 record. The Jazz are also on an eight-game winning streak. The two-time defensive player of the year will continue this great defence throughout the season.
Most improved player: Jerami Grant
The most improved player award shows what positive changes a player has made to their game in the off-season. So far this season the most improved player has been Jerami Grant. Grant has averaged 24.3 points in his first year with Detroit. This is a massive improvement by the 26-year-old, as last year he averaged as little as 12 points per game with the Denver Nuggets.
Grant has been the heart and soul of Detroit. The Pistons have had a rough year so far with the worst record in the NBA at 3-13. These poor team performances have really been a shadow over Jerami’s career-best year.
If Grant did not play like he is or was not signed to Detroit, there is a possibility the team would have been winless after their first 16 games.
Sixth man of the year: Jordan Clarkson
The sixth man of a team is a key role in the side, bringing depth and spark off the bench. If the season ended now, Jordan Clarkson would be the pick for this award. Clarkson has brought great shooting capability off the bench and is simply great at scoring in general. He has a great shooting percentage from all areas – he has a 48 per cent field goal percentage and a 40.9 per cent three-point percentage and shoots an incredibly accurate 96 per cent from the free-throw line. Jordan this season is playing like a starter and soon looks to become one.
Rookie of the year: LaMelo Ball
The rookie of the year award goes to the player out of the latest draft class who has really risen to their expectations in the season. After only four weeks of basketball was one of the hardest to choose, but so far the best rookie of the season has been LaMelo Ball.
Ball was clearly the most hyped rookie in the off-season, and the No. 3 pick has lived up to his expectations. He’s has averaged 11.5 points per game along with 5.9 assists per game and 6.4 rebounds per game. He’s also played a key role off the bench and was close to being the best sixth man after these first four weeks of basketball. He also managed to record a triple-double, making history as the first NBA player to do so in their rookie season.
He only just scraped this rookie title as players like James Wiseman and Anthony Edwards were close behind him. Ball doesn’t lead in all stats categories, but he brings a variety of great things in all of them. For example, James Wiseman is great in points per game with 11.8 but averages under one assist per game. You might be thinking this is usual for a big, yet Ball is not really considered a big body despite being able to collect rebounds.
Most valuable player: Nikola Jokic
The MVP award is clearly the finest award in the NBA. It is received by only the best of the best. So far this season Nikola Jokic is my frontrunner for the award.
The number of things this man can do is crazy. He is incredibly averaging nearly a triple-double with his 0.4 assists off the mark. Jokic is a dominant rebounder with 12 rebounds per game and an incredible ball-handler and passer with 9.6 assists per game, and he has an average of 25.8 points per game.
The most amazing thing about Nikola is he is a big man, and when did you last see a big man put up these sorts of numbers? Many people are comparing him to the likes of Oscar Robertson and even players like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The man is just spectacular at what he does for Denver.
As a Nuggets supporter, Jokic is my favourite player in the league. He is already the best passing centre ever and one of the best offensive centres of all time – and the best thing is he’s only 25 years old.