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NBA Western Conference year-end awards

By Eddie Leonard
On April 16, 2014

The NBA season is coming to an end. So before the playoffs begin, here are some predications for the NBA regular season awards.
Kevin Durant is the clear MVP favorite for the 2013-14 NBA season. Durant did everything this year. He averaged a league best, 31.9 points per game, grabbed 7.4 rebounds per game, and dished a career-high 5.5 assists per game. Durant also scored 30 or more points in 12 straight games in January, while averaging 35 ppg during the streak. Lastly, he scored at least 25 points in 41 straight games, which is third most all time. Don't get me wrong, LeBron James is still the best player on the planet, but the best player this season was Kevin Durant.
The Rookie of the Year award was tough for me. The pick was easy; the hard part was I had give the reward to a player who was on a team that embarrassed the NBA with tanking. Michael Carter-Williams, of the Philadelphia 76ers, is the man I am referring to. Carter-Williams averaged nearly 17 points, six rebounds, six assists, and two steals per game during the season. However those numbers are a little deceiving because Carter-Williams was the only real player on a team that's goal was to lose every game possible. So his stats may be a little inflated, but for a rookie, those stats are extremely hard to argue with and he deserves the award.
The Sixth Man of the Year award is definitely not going to J.R. Smith; I can tell you that. Taj Gibson of the Chicago Bulls should receive the award because of all the effort plays he makes on a nightly basis. Gibson does everything on the floor when he is given the opportunity. Gibson has averaged career-highs in minutes, points and assists this year. Gibson is the spark off the bench the Bulls have relied on all season. Along with Joakim Noah, Gibson helped carry a left for dead team all the way back to fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
The Most Improved Player award was the easiest award to choose. Anthony Davis should be the recipient of the award with no doubt in my mind. Sure, Davis was the No. 1 overall pick from Kentucky just two years ago, but look at the numbers. He averaged nearly 13 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks per game in his rookie year. However this year, he is averaging nearly 21 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks per contest. Davis has truly blossomed as the leader in New Orleans and I am sure in a couple years he will be one of the leaders in the NBA.
Gregg Popovich is my pick for Coach of the Year because once again, San Antonio is in first place. Every year critics say they are too old and every year the Spurs prove them wrong. Popovich is so special because he dealt with injuries to his core group the entire season. The minute one starter returned another would get injured. Popovich was able to get his team for another grueling season after coming five seconds away from winning an NBA title.
Joakim Noah is the leader of one of the most feared defenses in the NBA, the Chicago Bulls. Noah is so unique as a big man because he can run with point guards off the dribble and off pick and rolls, while also having the ability to stay with posting big men in the paint. Noah is the product of a great defensive scheme in Chicago run by Tom Thibodeau, but to his credit, the scheme begins with Noah. There is no doubt in my mind that Noah should be the Defensive Player of the Year this year.

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