By John Ezekiel J. Hirro
The NBA on Sunday (PH time) unveiled the finalists for the 2019-2020 season’s six major awards: Most Valuable Player (MVP), Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY), Sixth Man of the Year (6MOY), Most Improved Player and Coach of the Year.
In July, members of the media submitted their ballots for the awards, which will recognize players’ performances in games from October 2019 to March 2020.
- LeBron James
- Giannis Antetokounmpo
- James Harden
After missing the playoffs last year with the Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron had a lengthy postseason rest for the first time in a decade. This season, the rejuvenated James has recorded 25.3 points per game (ppg), a league-leading 10.3 assists per game (apg) and eight rebounds per game (rpg), while shooting 49.5 percent from the field at 35 years old, leading the Lakers to the first spot in the Western Conference and to the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks had one of the greatest statistical seasons in NBA history. Giannis has averaged 29.6 ppg, 13.7 rpg and 5.8 apg while leading the Bucks to clinch the best record in the league. Through March, the Bucks had the fifth most suffocating defense in history, holding teams to 8.5 points below league average.
Harden led the league in scoring again this season with 34.4 ppg. “The Beard,” arguably the best offensive player in history, has remained consistent with his scoring explosiveness despite the Houston Rockets’ shaky season.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo
- Anthony Davis
- Rudy Gobert
Giannis could join hall of famers Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon as the only players to win MVP and DPOY in the same season, should he snag this award as well.
In his first year with the Lakers, Davis averaged Davis 26.4 ppg, 9.4 rpg and 2.3 blocks per game (bpg). He has provided the Lakers’ frontcourt size, rim protection and consistent rebounding.
Gobert could also tie NBA history and become only the second player ever to win three straight DPOY awards since Dwight Howard. The Utah Jazz big man, who won the two previous DPOY awards, has remained consistent with 15.1 ppg on 69.4 percent shooting, 13.6 rpg and 2 bpg.
- Dennis Schröder
- Montrezl Harrell
- Lou Williams
Schröder was key to the Oklahoma City Thunder’s league-best three-guard lineup, which has outscored opponents by 268 total points in 401 total minutes. Among the Thunder, he is third in scoring (19 ppg), first in shot attempts per game (15) and minutes played (31 minutes per game).
Harrell is the Los Angeles Clippers’ energy guy off the bench. His rim running, rebounding and shot blocking has provided the Clippers a huge spark in games. He is averaging a career-high 18.6 ppg on 58 percent shooting, 7.1 rpg and 1.1 bpg.
Williams, another Clipper bench star, could become the only player to win the 6MOY award for a fourth time. He won the two previous awards and remained a spark plug off the bench, averaging 18.3 ppg and a team-high 5.7 apg.