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B/R Staff Predicts Every Major Award for 2020-21 NBA Season

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    The NBA is back, and with it comes a new batch of predictions.

    Bleacher Report asked our best basketball minds to place their votes for every major award this season from MVP to Executive of the Year, and then we asked one writer to make the case for the projected winner.

    To be clear, our writers are not necessarily justifying their own selection but the collective winner for each category. 

    Hit the B/R App to let us know where we hit, what we missed and who you’re predicting to take home trophies this season. 

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    Ringo H.W. Chiu/Associated Press

    Rob Pelinka of the Los Angeles Lakers was the runaway top executive, in part retroactively acknowledging his work building the 2019-20 championship squad.

    Instead of rolling the same team back, Pelinka gave LeBron James and Anthony Davis some serious help with Dennis Schroder, Montrezl Harrel, Marc Gasol and Wesley Matthews.

    Executive of the Year Odds: N/A

    Eric Pincus

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    Darren Abate/Associated Press

    It was a close race for Coach of the Year, with panelists showing love to both Rick Carlisle and Frank Vogel, but Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams ultimately prevailed.

    The narrative is set up nicely for Williams to earn the award, as Phoenix figures to jump from the lottery to the playoffs behind the addition of Chris Paul and an otherwise shrewd offseason. You can’t win Coach of the Year unless your team wins, and the Suns seem primed to rise.

    That’s not to say a Williams win will be all about the Suns simply getting better players. He proved his motivational skills by getting players to buy into the bubble last year, and he deserves some credit for putting Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton in positions to succeed.

    Last but not least, Williams is generally beloved around the league. That never hurts.

    Coach of the Year Odds: N/A

    Grant Hughes

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Several players have interesting MIP arguments—OG Anunoby, Deandre Ayton, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander—but Michael Porter Jr. takes pole position with what will be a dramatically increased role and should be a huge statistical spike.   

    He’s a 6’10” three-level scorer and every bit as difficult to defend as that label implies. Last season was his first actual go-round in the Association, and torching NBA defenses was already second nature (20.4 points per 36 minutes on 50.9/42.2/83.3 shooting).

    The Nuggets need a third star, and Porter is the best internal candidate. Denver will give him every chance to succeed.

    Most Improved Player Odds: +1400

    Zach Buckley

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    The count on Defensive Player of the Year was tight, with five players receiving votes and Bam Adebayo edging Anthony Davis by one. That’s a good reflection of how this award is typically chosen. Defense remains the more difficult end of the floor to analyze, even in this age of advanced stats and seemingly unlimited information.

    What we know for sure is that Adebayo is one of the game’s best defenders. Traditionally, big men earn that distinction by dominating offensive players at the rim. While Adebayo can do that, it’s his versatility and ability to switch onto wings and guards that make him most valuable.

    If the Miami Heat boast a team defense at or near the top of the league, you can bet Adebayo will be in the DPOY hunt as the leader on that end.

    Defensive Player of the Year Odds: +950

    Andy Bailey

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Montrezl Harrell, last year’s Sixth Man of the Year, signed with the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason and probably will not play enough minutes to repeat as the award winner. Last year’s runner-up, Dennis Schroder, joined the same team and might start this season, which also takes him out of the running. 

    With the Atlanta Hawks, Danilo Gallinari has a great shot at the award. He could be the lead scoring option coming off the bench while playing with several playmakers.

    Coming off the bench, he’ll be paired with Rajon Rondo, who is always looking to rack up assists. Despite not starting, Gallinari is too good to not be in the closing lineup of close games. In that lineup with Trae Young and Bogdan Bogdanovic, he will keep the floor spread as well as create for others.

    If Gallinari’s run of good health continues, he has to be the early favorite to win the award.

    Sixth Man of the Year Odds: N/A

    Mo Dakhil

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    Chris Carlson/Associated Press

    It may take time for LaMelo Ball’s shot to start falling, but he’s going to pass and rebound his way toward the top of the rookie ladder.

    Eventually, he’ll find a rhythm offensively, understand driving lanes and get more comfortable shooting with distance, just as he did in Australia.

    In the meantime, he’s going to create easy shots and highlights with his special passing and creativity that should immediately translate, given his 6’8″ size, advanced handles and unteachable vision.

    Rookie of the Year Odds: +390

    Jonathan Wasserman

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    Brandon Wade/Associated Press

    Luka Doncic’s sizable MVP share is probably the least surprising development in this whole exercise.

    This is just his third season, and he is only 21, but it feels like his time. His superstardom is still novel, protecting him against voter fatigue, and he headlines a Mavericks team that in no way downplays his candidacy. If anything, Kristaps Porzingis’ recovery from a torn meniscus and career’s worth of spotty health only adds to Doncic’s indispensability. He’s still a one-star show in a duos league, fighting to keep Dallas not just relevant but near the tippy-top of the brutal West.

    It also helps that the field of contenders could organically thin itself out. So many of the usual candidates—Giannis, LeBron, AD, Kawhi, KD—may see their MVP stocks fall by the wayside as their team shields them from too much volume amid a truncated season, or they may suffer from voter fatigue themselves.

    Doncic may have to contend with fellow one-star operations, but his team is more likely to pull a better conference finish than, say, Stephen Curry‘s Warriors or maybe even Jayson Tatum’s Celtics.

    MVP Odds: +410

    Dan Favale

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    MVP

    Luka Doncic: 5

    LeBron James: 3

    Anthony Davis: 1

    Jayson Tatum: 1

    Damian Lillard: 1

       

    ROY

    LaMelo Ball: 3

    Tyrese Haliburton: 3

    Obi Toppin: 2

    Killian Hayes: 2

    Deni Avdija: 1

       

    6MOY

    Danilo Gallinari: 3

    Dennis Schroder: 2

    Lou Williams: 1

    Tyler Herro: 1

    Caris LeVert: 1

    Carmelo Anthony: 1

    Norman Powell: 1

    Jordan Clarkson: 1

       

    DPOY

    Bam Adebayo: 4

    Anthony Davis: 3

    Ben Simmons: 2

    Giannis Antetokounmpo: 1

    Joel Embiid: 1

       

    MIP

    Michael Porter Jr.: 5

    OG Anunoby: 4

    Deandre Ayton: 1

    RJ Barrett: 1

       

    COY

    Monty Williams: 2

    Frank Vogel: 2

    Rick Carlisle: 2

    Doc Rivers: 1

    Terry Stotts: 1

    Brad Stevens: 1

    Erik Spoelstra: 1

    Ty Lue: 1

       

    EOY

    Rob Pelinka: 5

    James Jones: 3

    Neil Olshey: 1

    Sam Presti: 1

    Travis Schlenk: 1

       

    Award odds courtesy of FanDuel.

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