The NBA: 2014 Player Awards Predictions

The Return of the King could result to the return of the MVP trophy on his paws
(Image from:

Most Valuable Player
1. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
2. Blake Griffin, LA Clippers
3. Chris Paul, LA Clippers
4. Russell Westbrook, OKC Thunder
5. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

LeBron James is slimmer (and hungrier for another MVP trophy) on his second tour of duty with his hometown, Cleveland Cavaliers. This current edition of the Cavs might be his strongest and most complete team. However, assurances of a ring are not guaranteed for the Cavs, so the MVP trophy (for the 5th time) might be an easier task for LBJ. Meanwhile, the dynamic duo of Lob City could see Blake Griffin or Chris Paul alternate places as the #2 and #3 candidates for MVP. They will split votes because both need each other to dominate daily. As for OKC, the injury to Kevin Durant should allow Russell Westbrook to garner some considerations for MVP as long as he posts godly numbers and the Thunder stays in the Top 4 of the West. The best floor spacer and shooter in the league, Steph Curry has become a better playmaker and leader. Curry can create and dazzle among the best and this season (if healthy) should catapult him into MVP status.

You can always guarantee that Joakim Noah will defend with passion and energy
(Image from: Bleacher Report)

Defensive Player of the Year
1. Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls
2. Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets
3. LeBron James, Miami Heat
4. Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
5. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans

The Bulls are an elite defensive team and a major part of that credit belongs to Joakim Noah. He always defends with intensity, hustle and passion. Expect Noah to focus more on defense since Pau Gasol brings an added dimension on offense. However, Gasol is a much better defender than Carlos Boozer so that might minimize Noah's impact on defense or it could elevate Noah into another level if he manages to increase his rebounds and blocks. Meanwhile, the Rockets are a weaker team from last season and it is up to Dwight Howard to be a force defensively. He needs to protect the paint and rotate well on pick and rolls because James Harden CANNOT defend on a nightly basis. As for LeBron James, he is an all-around defender and quite frankly, the best defender on a championship contender. Finally, Marc Gasol and Anthony Davis will be on this list as long as their teams consistently win and defend. Davis is a wildcard and him winning this award depends on how beastly his numbers are during the season.

Jabari Parker (Bucks #12) is expected to lead Milwaukee in scoring and minutes

Rookie of the Year

1. Jabari Parker, Milwaukee Bucks
2. Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves
3. Nerlens Noel, Philadelphia 76ers
4. Dante Exum, Utah Jazz
5. Julius Randle, LA Lakers 

The youth movement in Milwaukee should allow Jabari Parker to play a ton of minutes and accumulate the best numbers. Parker is also the most complete and most polished scorer among this batch of rookies. He should lead all rookies in points scored and minutes played. Over in Minny, the #1 pick Andrew Wiggins is expected to deliver highlight reels but not so much wins and better numbers than Parker. However in the long run, Wiggins is projected to be a better overall player. As for the Sixers, Nerlens Noel had a solid Summer League and if Joel Embiid misses a ton of games, expect Noel to log major minutes and be a solid player on a team lacking decent players. Meanwhile, Dante Exum and Julius Randle are projected to be major players on teams expected to miss the post-season.

Isaiah Thomas (center) is the new addition to the loaded Suns' backcourt
(Image from: USA Today Sports) 

Sixth Man of the Year
1. Isaiah Thomas, Phoenix Suns
2. Jamal Crawford, LA Clippers
3. Taj Gibson, Chicago Bulls
4. Lou Williams, Toronto Raptors
5. Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers 

The Suns already had a loaded backcourt even before Isaiah Thomas joined them this summer. His arrival immediately gave the Suns a dreaded 3-guard combo. Thomas will initially come off the bench and it that continues, he should pile up stats similar to a starter, or even better. Next, Jamal Crawford can start for any team but with his age and defensive deficiencies, he is much better coming off the bench and scoring in bunches. Over in Chicago, Taj Gibson thought he might become a starter when Boozer was released but the arrival of Pau Gasol relegated Taj back to the bench. Gibson might receive fewer minutes this year because Gasol could end up playing minutes in the 4th quarter (unlike Boozer). Finally, Lou Williams and Tristan Thompson were former starters who now come off the bench. Thompson is a special case because he lost his starting job due to Kevin Love but Andy Varejao and Love are not exactly durable players so Thompson might get some odd starts here and there.

Kenneth Faried's experiences with Team USA this past summer should help him elevate his game.
(Image from: Bleacher Report)

Most Improved Player

1. Kenneth Faried, Denver Nuggets
2. Terrence Ross, Toronto Raptors
3. Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks
4. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Hornets
5. Mason Plumlee, Brooklyn Nets

Kenneth Faried
had a very productive stint with Team USA over the summer. Faried played well despite having no plays called for him. His endless energy and knack for loose balls served him well. Expect him to improve his numbers and possibly lead the Nuggets in scoring. Meanwhile, Terrence Ross had a 51-point game last season so he can definitely score. The question is his consistency so if he can stay on the court, his numbers should increase. Over with the Bucks, Khris Middleton, is slotted as the starting PF so his minutes and spot on the rotation should be constant. More minutes should ideally translate to better numbers. Next, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had one of the ugliest looking strokes in the league. He had his shooting form refined this season so maybe he becomes more efffective offensively. Lastly, another Team USA guy, Mason Plumlee, should see his production improve as long as he gets the opportunity to play. Kevin Garnett is probably on his last year so Plumlee should get minutes since the Nets see him as their starting center of the future.

Coach of the Year
1. David Blatt, Cleveland Cavaliers
2. Steve Kerr, Golden State Warriors
3. Gregg Poppovich, San Antonio Spurs
4. Tom Thibodeau, Chicago Bulls
5. Jeff Hornacek, Phoenix Suns

David Blatt is a rookie coach in the NBA but having LBJ, Love and Kyrie will probably result to at least 55 wins in the East. Another rookie coach is Steve Kerr who will pilot a contender in the GSW. Of course Pop will lead the Spurs to the playoffs and possibly another ring. Coach Thibbs will always have the Bulls ready and competing while Coach Hornacek might get this award if he navigates the Suns into the playoffs.

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