Only 10 games in, and the NBA is off to a roaring start. Records have been broken, hearts have been shattered, tempers have flared and minds have been blown.
So far, we have seen enough to make some bold predictions.
Here are my picks for who will take home the hardware at the 2019 NBA Awards.
Most Valuable Player
- Giannis Antetokounmpo – Milwaukee Bucks
Sure, Stephen Curry is on pace to have a career year and shatter all of his previous 3-point shooting records. However, voter fatigue will prevent Steph from winning his third MVP. And to top it off, it doesn’t help that there is a stigma around that all of Steph’s achievements are watered down due to the presence of KD, Cousins and Thompson.
Giannis has led the Bucks to an 8-1 record thus far, all while being among the top offenses and defenses in the league. Also, Giannis is averaging an absurd 26.1 points per game and nearly 14 rebounds per game while shooting 53.6 percent from the field — his most efficient year yet.
There might be a new king in the East.
Rookie of the Year
- Trae Young – Atlanta Hawks
The NBA loves storylines. The entire basketball world loves storylines. From day one, absurd amounts of hype have surrounded Trae Young since he took the court at the University of Oklahoma last fall.
Given all the doubt surrounding Trae Young before the season began, the NBA is going to have a tough time ignoring the storyline that Young is shattering expectations.
So far, Trae Young is averaging 19.1 points and 7.9 assists per contest at a relatively efficient 43.8 percent. In only the nine games Atlanta has played so far, Young has already racked up double-digit assists in three games, scored 35 and sunk a deep game winner against the Spurs.
What separates Young from Luka Doncic and Deandre Ayton is that Trae Young is the go-to guy in Atlanta. This heavy usage will only help Young come into his own as the season progresses, enabling him to shine even more.
Defensive Player of the Year
- Kawhi Leonard – Toronto Raptors
That’s right. He’s back, he’s representing “The Six” this year and he is my pick for DPOY. It’s well known that Leonard is a defensive juggernaut, and he is currently having an amazing season for the team with, currently, the best record in the league in the Toronto Raptors. As the season progresses and Kawhi duels against the NBA superstars, it will become apparent how valuable of an asset he is on defense. His defensive versatility and prowess will be on full display as Toronto’s golden child stifles every other team’s offense. The nearly three steals a game he is averaging are nice, too.
Sixth Man of the Year
- Derrick Rose – Minnesota Timberwolves
It is nearly impossible to ignore Derrick Rose after he detonated for 50 points against one of the NBA’s best defenses in the Utah Jazz.
Despite the injuries that derailed Rose’s promising career, he is currently having a resurgence, averaging 17 points and nearly five assists on 44.5 percent shooting — one of his most efficient seasons to date.
On a team that is riddled with drama due to a disgruntled Jimmy Butler and Karl Towns looking like a beta-dog, Derrick Rose is a gleaming ray of hope for Minnesota. Rose has also shown vast improvements in his game: an improved jump-shot, patience when attacking the rim and a willingness to better his teammates.
If Rose is able to keep it up this season, he’s a no-brainer.
Most Improved Player
- Cedi Osman – Cleveland Cavailers
Who? That’s right. Cedi Osman.
Despite the fact that Cedi barely saw any run last season, he is exhibiting perhaps the most dramatic improvement this season. This isn’t just any stroke of luck either; Cedi has been seen all summer working with the NBA’s best, trying to improve his game.
It is showing too as Osman is now a starter averaging nearly 13 points and five rebounds, a stark contrast to the meager four points per contest he averaged last season.
Cedi has not only improved as a player, but also his role has grown to be one of the most important players on a Cleveland roster desperate for order and consistency.
Coach of the Year
- Michael Malone – Denver Nuggets
After just barely missing the playoffs last year in a tight race out West, the Nuggets are looking absolutely phenomenal this year with the second best record in the West thus far.
Their schedule has not been easy, either. On their way to a 9-1 record so far, they’ve taken down the defending-champion Warriors, the juggernaut Celtics and the sneaky good Utah Jazz.
So far, it’s not looking like much of a fluke. The Nuggets are looking great on both ends of the floor. If they can keep it up and perhaps remain a top-three team in the stacked West, Michael Malone has got this award in the bag.