Monday night was the inaugural NBA Awards show, as some of the league’s best players were honored. The event was televised on TNT and was held at Basketball City in New York City.
Awards were handed out to players in six different categories: Rookie of the Year, Sixth Man, Most Improved Player, Coach of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and Most Valuable Player.
Rookie of the Year:
Point guard Malcolm Brogdon, of the Milwaukee Bucks, took home Rookie of the Year honors.
Brogdon, the 36th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, averaged 10.2 points per game and was very efficient from the floor. He shot an effective field goal percentage of 51.8 percent last season.
Playing in 75 games, and starting in 28 of them, Brogdon was able to score in a variety of ways. Scoring, though, was not the only thing that he did well at last season.
Brogdon handled the ball well (1.5 turnovers per game), passed well (4.2 assists per game), and did not foul all that much (1.9 fouls per game) during the 2016-2017 campaign.
Shooting guard Eric Gordon, of the Houston Rockets, took home Sixth Man honors.
Gordon had a healthy season with Houston, and it paid off. This past season, he averaged 16.2 points per game on 40.6 percent shooting from the floor.
Gordon played 31 minutes per game for the Rockets and fit the mold of what the team was aiming for – perimeter shooting. Last season, Houston led the NBA in three-point field goals made and attempted.
Gordon finished last season in second place on the team in three-point field goals made and attempted, as well (James Harden led the team in both categories).
Most Improved Player:
Small forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, of the Milwaukee Bucks, took home Most Improved Player honors.
Antetokounmpo elevated his game to another level in 2016-2017, as he became an All-Star for the first time. He also averaged career highs in points, assists, and rebounds.
Antetokounmpo played in all but two games last season and was extremely efficient from the floor. He shot 52 percent from the floor and had a 54.1 effective field goal percentage as well.
At 6 foot 11, Antetokounmpo’s length allows him to do more than just produce offensively.
On defense, his length also allows him to be tough to gameplan against. Last season, players shot just 41.3 percent when Antetokounmpo was the primary defender, including just 35.8 percent from long distance.
Coach of the Year:
Mike D’Antoni, of the Houston Rockets, took home Coach of the Year honors. The award was D’Antoni’s second of his head coaching career (2004-2005 with the Phoenix Suns).
D’Antoni guided the Rockets to a 55-27 record. That mark was good for the third seed in the Western Conference.
At 65-years-old, D’Antoni is an offensive mind that needs a team full of playmakers to succeed, which is what he had during his time in Phoenix – his most successful seasons.
This past season, Houston was second in the NBA in points per game (115.3 points per game). The Golden State Warriors led the league in points per game, at 115.9 points per game.
Defensive Player of the Year:
Power forward Draymond Green, of the Golden State Warriors, took home Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Green, a triple-double threat nearly every night, adds a lot on both ends of the floor. Defensively, though, is where Green adds the most.
This past season, Green finished in a tie in steals per game (2.0 steals per game), which was a career-high for the two-time All-Star. John Wall, of the Washington Wizards, and Chris Paul, of the Los Angeles Clippers, tied him in that category.
To go along with that, players did not shoot at a high percentage when Green was the primary defender. In 2016-2017, players shot just 40 percent when Green defended them – including 29.5 percent from long distance.
Most Valuable Player:
Point guard Russell Westbrook, of the Oklahoma City Thunder, won the Most Valuable Player award.
Westbrook finished the 2016-2017 season with a triple-double average, the second player in NBA history to do as such. Last season, he averaged 31.6 points per game, 10.7 rebounds per game, and 10.4 assists per game.
His 31.6 points per game were the highest total of his career. That mark was the highest in the NBA last season, and the second time in Westbrook’s career where he led the league in scoring.
Westbrook added to his historical and record-breaking season, with his sixth All-Star game nomination and a first-team All-NBA selection as well.