In the final days of the 2018-19 NBA campaign, media members voted for who they thought the winners of the league’s most coveted individual accolades should be. We broke down the three nominees for each category at the time.
Now the time has come for one individual from each of those categories to take the formal honors. Below are the winners (updated as they’re announced) and the finalists for each award.
Rookie of the YearDeandre AytonLuka Doncic – Winner (98 out of 100)Trae Young (2 out of 100)Words: Whether they like it or not, Luka Doncic and Trae Young will forever be linked to one another thanks to the draft day trade between their two squads in 2018. What the two have done since is even more memorable. Not only has Doncic proven himself to be every bit as solid as his cult-like following swore he was, he’s convinced the Mavs to bump up their entire rebuilding timeline. Young, after a slow start to 2018-19, has established himself as the anchor of a suddenly formidable young Hawks core.
Most Improved PlayerDe’Aaron Fox (1 out of 100)D’Angelo Russell (12 out of 100)Pascal Siakam – Winner (86 out of 100)Words: There were whispers that began to spread last summer that Pascal Siakam and the Raptors’ bench mob had been putting in work with Rico Hines at UCLA. It’s hard to imagine that since then, the Cameroonian has since played a pivotal role in dethroning the Golden State Warriors and completely obliterated the ceiling we’d previously set for him. Yo, how do I get in on those summer workouts?
Sixth Man of the YearMontrezl Harrell (2 of 100)Domantas Sabonis (1 of 100)Lou Williams – Winner (96 of 100)
Words: There’s a special place in history for Lou Williams, as explosive a volume scorer as the league has seen in recent memory. Williams has mastered the art of playing off bench in the NBA and has carved out a niche as one of the most uniquely valuable assets in the game. Nobody in the history of the game has scored more bench points than this dude here.
Coach of the YearMike Budenholzer – Winner (77 of 100)Michael Malone (13 of 100)Doc Rivers (6 of 100)Words: Don’t get it twisted, while a lot of things went right in Milwaukee this season, Mike Budenholzer had a major impact on the Bucks’ ability to perform on both ends of the ball this season. The Bucks were a top-five team on offense and defense this year, both substantial improvements over 2017-18.
Executive of the YearTim Connelly (9 of 29)Lawrence Frank (2 of 29)Jon Horst – Winner (10 of 29) Words: Horst shot his shot in 2018-19 and acquired a range of players to capitalize on his team’s window in the Eastern Conference. The moves to bring veterans like Brook Lopez and George Hill aboard helped give the young Milwaukee roster additional tools and experience to actually make noise in the postseason. All that said, Horst’s best decision may have come last summer, when he appointing Mike Budenholzer the new head coach of the club.
Defensive Player of the YearGiannis Antetokounmpo (26 of 100)Paul George (6 of 100)Rudy Gobert – Winner (65 of 100)Words: There are no shortage of fancy ways to measure Rudy Gobert’s impact on opponents and that, coupled with the fact that he’s a landscape altering force in the paint make him a solid choice for a second consecutive award here. Gobert is tops in the league in defensive real plus-minus and he leaches efficiency from any mere mortal bold enough to challenge him in the paint.
Most Valuable PlayerGiannis Antetokounmpo – Winner (78 of 101)Paul GeorgeJames Harden (23 of 101)
Words: Any time that basketball fans can witness a human being defy physical expectations and redefine what our species is capable of, it’s a good day. The NBA community has watched Antetokounmpo realize every ounce of the most optimistic projections we had for him when he broke onto the scene as a tantalizing freak of nature prospect. Fortunately for everybody but the 29 other teams in the NBA, the 24-year-old is just getting started.Antetokounmpo wasn’t the only one dominant enough to change the way we view the game. James Harden, with an unprecedented skill set has managed to exploit every analytic insight to come out of the data community and should get credit for an equally historic campaign.