#NBA2015: Awards Watch: 1st Edition

The NBA has reached the quarter mark of the 2014-2015 season with all of the teams playing at least 21 games as of December 11. 

This gives us the opportunity to take our first look at the players who have excelled (some expected, some unexpected) in each of the five individual categories. 

Steph Curry is doing more than just nailing threes all-night long
(Image from: seadubscentral.com)

Most Valuable Player
1. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors  
2. Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
3. James Harden, Houston Rockets
4. Blake Griffin/Chris Paul, LA Clippers
5. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

Steph Curry is leading the Dubs towards the top of the standings and he is doing more than just make threes of the dribble (tied for 1st in threes made). Curry is making plays left and right (6th in assists) and most importantly, the Dubs are thriving without David Lee and with rookie head coach Steve Kerr at the helm. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies are also near the top with Marc Gasol playing the best ball of his career. Gasol leads them in points and player efficiency. This slimmed down version of Gasol has worked wonders for the Griz and his numbers. Another contender in the West, the Rockets are doing great even with Dwight Howard missing games because James Harden is constantly showing us that he is the best offensive SG out there. His defense still leaves a lot to be desired but he appears to be trying more this season. Now the duo in Lob City consisting of Blake Griffin and Chris Paul have steered the Clippers to 9 straight wins and within the top 4 of the West. Finally, LeBron James and his Cavaliers have found their rhythm (for now) and the 8 straight wins have catapulted them into the top 4 in the weak East.

Anthony Davis is slowly but surely bringing the Pelicans into relevancy
(Image from: USA Today)

Defensive Player of the Year
1. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
2. Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
3. Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls
4. DeAndre Jordan, LA Clippers
5. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs

Anthony Davis is just in his 3rd year but this guy is dominating on both sides of the floor. He is 3rd in scoring but his more impressive numbers can be found on the defensive end. Davis is 8th in boards and tops in blocks plus tied for 6th in steals. His Pelicans are also competitive in the West. Next up, Marc Gasol has been instrumental in the resurgence of the Grizzlies this season. His presence and anchoring of their team defense has kept the Grizz at the top of least points allowed. On the other hand, the Chicago Bulls are nowhere near their best defensive effort but Joakim Noah still plays intense defense on each possession. He is also 12th in rebounds and 18th in blocks. Another center is on this list, DeAndre Jordan of the Clippers continues to patrol the paint and protect the rim for Lob City. He is #1 in rebounds and #2 in blocks. Lastly, Tim Duncan, a former MVP and member of All-Defensive teams rounds up the top 5 candidates.

Jabari Parker and the Bucks are currently in the playoff race in the East
Rookie of the Year
1. Jabari Parker, Milwaukee Bucks
2. Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves
3. KJ McDaniels, Philadelphia 76ers
4. Elfrid Payton, Orlando Magic
5. Bojan Bogdanovic, Brooklyn Nets

This is currently a 2-man race between Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins. Their first game versus one another had Wiggins finish with better numbers but the Bucks came away with the win. Both are averaging around 12 points and Parker slightly rebounding more. His Bucks are also contending for a playoff spot in the East while the T'wolves are cellar-dwellers in the West. The rest of the top 5 don't have much of a chance to win ROY.

Sweet Lou has been a major factor off the bench for the Raptors
(Image from: Bleacher Report)

Sixth Man of the Year
1. Lou Williams, Toronto Raptors
2. Marrese Speights, Golden State Warriors 
3. Jamal Crawford, LA Clippers
4. Isaiah Thomas, Phoenix Suns
3. Taj Gibson, Chicago Bulls

The Raptors are atop the East and the play of Lou Williams has been a great help. Williams already has games of 36 and 26 points, both wins. Over in the West, the Dubs are leading the West and Marrese Speights has been very productive off the bench. He plays only about 16 minutes but averages 12 points and 5 boards. His best games have been of 28, 27 and 24 points, all wins. Perennial sixth man candidate, Jamal Crawford leads all bench players in points (16.8) but he plays the most minutes. As for Isaiah Thomas of the Suns, his numbers have cooled off lately and he has missed some games due to injury. The same can be said for Taj Gibson of the Chicago Bulls.

Jimmy Butler has been the best player on the Bulls
(Image from: Bleacher Report)

Most Improved Player

1. Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls
2. Tony Wroten, Philadelphia Sixers
3. Reggie Jackson, OKC Thunder
4. Evan Fournier, Orlando Magic
5. Darren Collison, Sacramento Kings

The Bulls have Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose yet the best player on the team right now is Jimmy Butler. He was named Player of the Month for November and he leads the Bulls in scoring and steals. Even though the Sixers are collecting losses, Tony Wroten has developed nicely into a reliable starter. Over in OKC, Reggie Jackson delivered big games in the absence of Durant and Westbrook but the wins did not follow. Both Evan Fournier and Darren Collison are receiving extended minutes with their new teams and both have produced career-high numbers so far.

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