NKLA Stock – New York Post experts make their picks
Post NBA beat reporters Marc Berman and Brian Lewis, along with columnist Mike Vaccaro, break down their picks for this season’s NBA awards:
Marc Berman: Nikola Jokic, Nuggets — The Nuggets continue to win big in the West despite Jamal Murray’s season-ending injury — a credit to Jokic’s greatness. He’s a bull inside, a sharpshooter, and also a terrific passer and rebounder. Jokic’s numbers speak for themselves: 26.5 points, 10.8 rebounds, 8.4 assists, 56.4 percent from the field, 39.8 from 3. Oh, and he has played in all 69 games.
Brian Lewis: Nikola Jokic, Nuggets — Jokic is first in win shares, VORP and plus-minus, and is flirting with a 30-point triple-double — as a center. He gets the nod over Joel Embiid, Stephen Curry and James Harden.
Mike Vaccaro: Nikola Jokic, Nuggets — There is no more joyful player to watch in the NBA right now. So unorthodox in so many ways and yet so good — especially since Jamal Murray went down.
Defensive Player of the Year
Marc Berman: Ben Simmons, 76ers — Rudy Gobert has won it twice already, so it’s time for new blood. Versatile perimeter defense is more vital than rim protection, and the do-everything Simmons can guard 1-to-4. Deflections, steals, rebounds — he has keyed the Sixers’ top-ranked defense.
Brian Lewis: Rudy Gobert, Jazz — Ben Simmons is the best perimeter defender, but Gobert is the best defender, period. He deserves the award for the third time, leading the NBA in blocks, defensive boards and defensive win shares.
Mike Vaccaro: Rudy Gobert, Jazz — The guy who makes the team that has carried the NBA’s best record for almost every minute of the season is a force to be reckoned with, especially now.
Coach of the Year
Marc Berman: Tom Thibodeau, Knicks — I was the first to write it up when the Knicks were just 18-17 that Thibodeau was deserving over favorites Quin Snyder and Doc Rivers because Utah and Philadelphia, respectively, have been consistently solid. The Knicks coach, au contraire, reversed seven seasons of misery with a star-less roster. Suns coach Monty Williams is second, but Thibs didn’t get Chris Paul in the offseason as a jolt. Thibs got Nerlens Noel.
Brian Lewis: Monty Williams, Suns — Tom Thibodeau is vying for a second COY Award 10 years after his first, and Quin Snyder has guided the starless Jazz to a great season. But Williams wins a close one.
Mike Vaccaro: Tom Thibodeau, Knicks — All due respect to Monty Williams, who has Chris Paul to serve as his coach on the floor and whose team ended the bubble on a roll, but Thibodeau has been a singularly transformative force on the sidelines for the Knicks.
Rookie of the Year
Marc Berman: Anthony Edwards, Timberwolves — It’s all but a toss-up between Edwards (19 ppg) and Hornets point guard LaMelo Ball (15.8 ppg). Edwards bests Ball in scoring average, but Ball’s shooting percentages and assists per game are higher. They are both future All-Stars, but Edwards has played 69 games, Ball 48. Credit Ball for rushing back from his wrist injury, but I’ll go with the guy who played 21 more games.
Brian Lewis: LaMelo Ball, Hornets — The wrist injury Ball suffered March 21 opened the door for Anthony Edwards. But Ball — averaging 15.8 points, 6.2 assists and six boards — is that rare rookie who actually impacts winning.
Mike Vaccaro: Anthony Edwards, Timberwolves — Edwards has lived up to his advanced billing and to his status as the No. 1-overall pick, and he has offered a building block in Minnesota and maybe a lure to keep Karl-Anthony Towns in town.
Sixth Man of the Year
Marc Berman: Jordan Clarkson, Jazz — The Knicks’ Alec Burks gave Jordan Clarkson a little run for his money before getting COVID-19 last month. Clarkson is averaging 18.2 points as Utah’s second-leading scorer despite averaging 26 minutes.
Brian Lewis: Jordan Clarkson, Jazz — Clarkson adds punch off the bench and some free-wheeling style to Quin Snyder’s stoic system. He’s channeling Lou Williams at his best while closing tight games.
Mike Vaccaro: Jordan Clarkson, Jazz — Maybe if Derrick Rose had been a Knick all year, he’d be in the conversation, but even then it would be hard to build a case against Clarkson, who is the present standard-bearer for the role right now.
Most Improved Player
Marc Berman: Julius Randle, Knicks — Some outlets surprisingly touted Jerami Grant and Christian Wood as legit candidates. Do winning and staying healthy ever factor into anything anymore? Randle should be the unanimous pick for carrying the Knicks to the playoffs on his broad shoulders. The iron man is a nightly triple-double threat, looking often like a lefty LeBron James.
Brian Lewis: Julius Randle, Knicks — Jerami Grant and rising star Michael Porter Jr. are viable candidates. But the first-time All-Star has grown his game and bullied the Knicks back into the playoffs.
Mike Vaccaro: Julius Randle, Knicks — If this isn’t unanimous, there should be a recount. Randle is simply a better player across the board this year, and the Knicks have reaped those benefits from Day 1.
NKLA Stock – New York Post experts make their picks
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