The NBA Way-Too-Early Season Awards | MVP, MIP And Some Awards We Make Up

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It’s mid-November and most NBA teams have played between 12 to 15 games. That is the perfect small sample size to overreact to and declare award winners.

All jokes aside, except for a few debacles (looking at you, Lakers, Hornets and Pistons), the basketball has been really good and we’ve got compelling stories. Even these three bottom feeders have something positive to build on.

MVP – Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks

The easiest call on the board. The fifth-year do-it-all maestro is averaging 35 points, eight rebounds and eight assists per game on 54.6 and 60 eFG% and TS% efficiency splits. He leads the league in EPM at +8.4.

His usage rate is an absurd 38 percent and he is literally the sun in the Mavericks solar system. In any game or playoff series he can step on the floor and be the best player.

That kind of usage tends to lead to tired legs and fatigue in the playoffs. Hello Houston Rockets James Harden. But it sure is fun to watch a player cook.

Defensive Player of the Year – Brook Lopez, Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks are the number one defense in the league with a 105 aDRTG. Lopez is a gigantic human that walls off the paint and protects the rim. He leads the league with just under three blocks per game. He leads the league in defensive EPM at +4.4.

His MVP teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo gets most of the credit. But Antetokounmpo’s weak side play wrecking is not possible without Lopez.

So far this season, Lopez is contesting eight shots per game that are within six feet of the rim, and opponents are shooting 10.8 percentage points lower on those shots than expected. He has never contested so many shots around the rim. He is sixth in the league in shots contested within six feet per game, and no one is forcing as many misses.

Rookie of the Year – Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic

Barely…

It’s really hard to pick between Banchero and the Indiana Pacers Bennedict Mathurin. But the edge goes to Banchero because he’s competing on the defensive end.

Banchero is averaging nearly 24 points, eight rebounds and three assists per game.

The Magic are 4-9 but they are competing and they might have their future core with Banchero, Franz Wagner, and Jalen Suggs.

Coach of the Year – Will Hardy, Utah Jazz

Everyone thought this team was in full teardown mode and ready to tank for presumed 2023 number one draft pick Victor Wembanyama. Someone forgot to tell Hardy.

The Jazz are 10-5, fifth in aNET rating, fourth in aORTG and 10th in aDRTG.

The Cleveland Cavaliers were happy to give yo Lauri Markkanen and Collin Sexton in the Donovan Mitchell trade. The Jazz seem more than happy with Markkanen and Sexton.

Most Improved Player – tie – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, OKC Thunder and Desmond Bane, Memphis Grizzlies

SGA is averaging 31 points and five assists per game on 56 and 63 eFG% and TS% splits. He is ninth in the NBA in EPM at +5.3. He is that dude and will likely make his first All-Star and All-NBA teams this season.

Bane is averaging nearly 25 points, five rebounds and five assists per game on 57 and 62 eFG% and TS% splits. His EPM is +4.1, the 94th percentile.

You might be saying SGA is obviously better and should be MIP. But SGA is his team’s number-one option and has a 31 percent usage rate and was drafted in the lottery (11th).

Bane is his team’s number-two option behind Ja Morant and was picked 30th. Bane will likely make his first All-Star game this season and could be a potential All-NBA player. Do you know how rare it is to draft an All-Star with the 30th pick?

Last few 30th picks before Bane include Kevin Porter, Omari Spellman, Josh Hart, Damian Jones and Kevon Looney.

Worst vibes – tie – Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves

The Lakers have only won three games. LeBron James and Anthony Davis seem checked out on this squad, though they did beat the Nets on Sunday night.

The Timberwolves look absolutely miserable. The all-in trade to acquire Rudy Gobert from the Jazz doesn’t seem to be working well yet. Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns are still adjusting to playing with the three-time defensive player of the year. Head coach Chris Finch seems to be struggling to get his message across.