Ware: The way-too-early awards for the 2018-2019 NBA season

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We are going into day two of the NBA season, so why not get into some way-too-early predictions?

MVP

Hands down the MVP of the 2018-2019 NBA season will be Giannis Antetokounmpo. Last year, “The Greek Freak” finished fourth in scoring, averaging 26.9 points per-game and added onto that with 10 rebounds a game as well. Giannis carried the Milwaukee Bucks to the playoffs by dominating on both sides of the ball. What’s more impressive is that he averaged almost 27 points a game and rarely took a shot behind the three-point arc in an era where threes are dominating the game. Giannis spent the off-season working on his jumper and he’s been getting more consistent and confident from deep. Adding a consistent jump shot to his dominating offense as well as the elite defense he had last season (averaging 1.5 steals and 1.4 blocks per game) will only make him harder to stop and ensure the MVP title goes to him.

Biggest Letdown(s)

The first letdown of the season hangs in Oakland. After joining the Warriors this past off-season, Demarcus Cousins is expected to make the team much more dominant coming into 2018. However, coming off an Achilles injury could only set him up for failure. There is a good possibility that “Boogie” won’t come back and be the same dominant big man he was before the injury when he played for the Pelicans. Furthermore, Cousins put up outstanding numbers on the Pelicans because he was teamed up with Anthony Davis, who is also one of the league’s most dominant big men. Without the presence of Davis and with new teammate Draymond Green not being much of a scorer, teams would be able to double-team Boogie more and force the ball out of his hands. As a result, his production and numbers could drop this season.

The other biggest letdown hands down will be LeBron and the Lakers. Although LeBron is one of the greatest to ever step foot on an NBA basketball court, not even he could carry a team like the Lakers as far as people are expecting him too. Yes, the Lakers do have some talented players, but with the amount of competition in the Western Conference I just do not see LeBron carrying this team all the way to the Western Conference Finals. In a difficult conference, this team lacks the talent they need to be honest contenders. As seen in Cleveland, James can do everything in his power to win, but when surrounded by a team of role players rather than other scorers (like Golden State and Houston have) he just can’t get the job done and that’s exactly what I expect to happen.

Rookie of the Year

Although Luka Dončić is probably the most prepared for the NBA out of all the rookies since he has been playing professional basketball overseas, my Rookie of the Year winner would have to go to Knicks’ small forward, Kevin Knox. Throughout the off-season, Knox has seemed to be the best all-around player to come out of this draft. He plays defense, grabs boards and can score in multiple ways whether it be driving to the basket and finishing contested layups or pulling up for deeply contested threes. This young man can play. Don’t get me wrong, this year’s rookie talent will make this a very close award, but in the end I just don’t see anybody beating Knox for the award.

Most Improved Player

This one is pretty simple. After having by far the worst season of his career in Oklahoma City, the winner of this award will go to Carmelo Anthony. Anthony has found himself in a new uniform playing for a system that suits his game very well. Anthony has always been a ball-dominant player who scores using isolations and this is the exact offense the Houston Rockets use. As well, ‘Melo has gone from having two very ball dominant players in Russell Westbrook and Paul George to having James Harden and Chris Paul for teammates, players that make sure everyone gets their touches. In OKC, there were times where Westbrook was having an off-night and would still force shots, while the Rockets understand the phrase “let the hot man shoot.” Lastly, Anthony has been saying he’s wanted to play with Chris Paul for pretty much his whole career. After watching him play this preseason, he genuinely looks happy playing in Houston.

2018-2019 NBA Champs

As long as the team can stay healthy, the 2018-2019 NBA Champions will be the Boston Celtics. After watching a remodeled Boston team make it all the way to game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals last season without two of their biggest stars, it’s clear to say this is the team to beat. LeBron leaving the East has cleared the way for Boston to take control of the throne and as shown on opening night in a 105-87 victory, although the 76ers are a good team, they aren’t a match for Boston yet. The Celtics have shown that anyone on their team can go off for big numbers. In the first game of the season, they beat a good team with Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving (the two stars missing in the playoffs last season) only combining for 17 points. This team is hungry and determined to knock off a somewhat cocky Warriors team that has been so dominant the past few seasons and I feel they are the only team that has all the pieces to do it.

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