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The 2018 Kia NBA Most Valuable Player award went to Houston Rockets James Harden. He was the MVP from start to finish in most of his peers eyes. He led the Rockets to a NBA’s best 65 wins in a tough Western Conference. Harden who led the league in PPG with 30.4 was also third in assist (8.8) just shows the value he had on this Rockets team. He led the league with the most free throw attempts (727) and the second most being 114 behind. The addition of his All-Star backcourt teammate Chris Paul many thought may have diminished Harden's production stat wise, but it only elevated his play by taking the responsibility of running the offense off his shoulders.
This Rockets team was one victory from taking down the the two time defending champion Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. If Paul did not get hurt we would have a new champion in 2018 but no one can dismiss the season the Houston Rockets had or how spectacular Harden's season was this past year.
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Philadelphia’s point guard Ben Simmons took home the Rookie of the Year honors in a category that was probably the closest it’s been ROY race this season has seen since 2004 when LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony were neck and neck for the award. Utah's rookie Donovan Mitchell whom many may have given their first place vote was a close second. Some may argue that Mitchell had more of a responsibility being in the Western Conference, and not playing with an All-Star, and being a first year rookie unlike Simmons whom sat out his first year due to a foot injury and playing alongside All-Star Joel Embiid. 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assist from Simmons can not be denied and he was the catalyst for the Sixers despite not being an All-Star.
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Los Angeles Clippers Lou Williams wins the Sixth Man of the Year award for the second time in his career (2015) while reigning sixth man Eric Gordon (Hou) was a close second. He led the Clippers in scoring (22.6) after they departed ways with former All-Star Blake Griffin before the trade deadline. In January he notched his first career 50 point game against the reigning champion Warriors.
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Utah’s Center Rudy Gobert one day before his 26th birthday won Defensive Player of the Year for the first time in his career. He wins the award despite not being in the top 10 in blocks while the other two candidates for the award were #1 (Anthony Davis) & #4 (Joel Embiid) respectively. The other two were also starters in the All-Star game in Los Angeles. All that being said the value of Gobert to coach Quin Snyder and the Jazz could not be more appreciated. Even though rookie Donovan Mitchell is the best player and the engine to this Jazz team one could argue Gobert was the ultimate difference for the Jazz all season long. Just ask the Oklahoma City Thunder.
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Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo Wins Most Improved Player in his first season with his new team. He was top 10 in scoring with 23.1/gm and led his team to within one win away from taking down the four time Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers. This is a guy a lot of people outside of the Pacers organization didn't have much faith in to carry a franchise...but now with this guy leading the way the Indiana may have something to look forward to.
Photo By: The Asociated Press
Former Toronto Raptors Coach Dwane Casey wins NBA Coach of the Year after posting a franchise best 59 wins. Casey was fired after the Raptors were swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semi-finals 4-0. The choice to go with Casey over the other candidates Quin Snyder (Utah), & Brad Stevens (Bos) whom some may have felt were more deserving of the award was probably the surprise of the night. This is not a regular season award and the Raptors had a great season they just were not able to solve the LeBron James saga which is definitely not something to be ashamed about.