With the upcoming NBA season right around the corner, the suspense for the award race is at an all-time high. In a league accompanied by a combination of experienced and youthful talent, the award competitions could be some of the most competitive in recent basketball history. Nonetheless, the question is, what players will come out of the gauntlet with a trophy in their hands? Here are my predictions for the 2023-2024 NBA Awards.
Coach of The Year – Mark Daigneault
In 2023, Oklahoma City showed to have debatably the best young talent in the league under Coach Daigneault. After leading his team to 40 wins (16 more wins than 2022) and a play-in appearance, the young mentor finished 2nd in votes behind Mike Brown of the Sacramento Kings. If Daigneault can reach 50 wins in 2024, he will likely be taking home the COTY trophy.
Sixth Man of The Year – Chris Paul
After being traded to the Warriors in a deal with the Wizards, Chris Paul looks primed to be the best backup PG in the league. Unless Golden State decides to play extremely small, Paul should be coming off the bench next season in the Bay. The HOF would undoubtedly become the most accoladed bench player in the league. If he can maintain last season’s averages (14 ppg, 4 rpg, 8 apg), the veteran point guard would be my obvious pick for SMOTY.
Most Improved Player – Mikal Bridges
Bridges has shown great leaps in his offensive game since joining the Nets. After being moved by Phoenix during last season’s trade deadline, Bridges put up a whopping average of 26 ppg, 4 rpg, and 3 apg in Brooklyn. Comparatively, his ppg average jumped by 9 points after leaving the Suns. With Bridges’ offensive jump and miraculous defense, he will be well on his way to hoisting the MIP trophy in 2024.
Defensive Player of The Year – Jaren Jackson Jr.
Repeating his DPOY season in 2023, I expect Jackson Jr. to continue to blow his defensive competition away. Last season the talented power forward averaged an insane 3 blocks per game. The closest bpg average was still .5 blocks behind JJJ. If the Memphis Grizzly can cut down on his fouls in 2024, he’s positioned to be a runaway candidate for the DPOY.
Rookie of The Year – Victor Webanyama
What more can I say than the French prospect is 7 ‘5 with an 8-foot wingspan? However, Wemby isn’t your average big man. The rookie has guard-like abilities with DPOY-level defensive potential. In 5 summer league games, Wembanyama averaged 21 ppg, 4 rpg, and 4 apg. If the giant prodigy can stay healthy, no one will stop him from obtaining ROTY.
Most Valuable Player – Luka Doncic
Doncic has been the pre-season MVP betting favorite for the past 2 seasons. Nevertheless, the Slovenian native is still yet to add an MVP to his accolades entering the new season. With the off-season additions the Mavericks have made, this could easily change in 2024. If Dallas can show improved team play, while Doncic continues to average historic numbers (32 ppg, 9 rpg, 8 apg), Luka will be lifting the MVP trophy come April.
Western Conference Finals MVP – Nikola Jokic
Since winning the Finals in 2023, Jokic looks to be the far and away favorite for a repeated Western Conference finals run in 2024. The Serbian averaged 30 ppg, 13 rpg, and 9.5 apg while dominating any competition in his way. With the Western Conference growing stronger in the offseason, I don’t expect the Nuggets to have as much of a cakewalk, but I expect Jokic to get the job done.
Eastern Conference Finals MVP – Jimmy Butler
The Miami Heat are always competitive come playoff time, and who better to lead your team than the absolute dawg that is Jimmy Butler? After getting to the Eastern Conference finals in 3 out of the last 4 seasons, it comes with almost no doubt that Jimmy Buckets will be there again in 2024. With his combination of elite defense and clutch offense, Butler will lead his team past any playoff competitors.
Champion/Finals MVP – Miami Heat/Damian Lillard
This prediction was made on a major hypothetical, will Damian Lillard be traded to the Heat? If the well-experienced defensive duo of Butler and Adebayo can add a historically elite offensive talent, there will be little competition for the trio. Positioned as the current and only favorite to land Lillard, Pat Riley has a big decision to make for next season, maintain picks and youth for the future or go all in and win a championship?