• What’s up HoopBallers!

    Hello and welcome to the 2017-2018 HoopBall Midseason (kind of) Awards.

    Well, it’s not exactly mid-season but we’re about to come to the end of the All-Star Break and go into the second half of the season so we’re just going to say it’s midseason. Okay? Okay.

    This is usually the spot for the Stock Watch but there hasn’t been much in the way of change considering the entire league has either been in L.A. for All-Star festivities or on a beach somewhere unwinding with the extra vacation days.

    So we’re going to switch it up a bit for this awards show as we’ll be going over both fantasy awards and the actual NBA Awards. In the case that the players overlap, such as the actual MVP being the same as the fantasy MVP (no, that’s not a subtle hint that the fantasy and NBA MVPs will be the same person) then we’ll just go over one player.

    It might sound a little complicated right now because trust me, it sounds pretty complicated as I’m writing this — but you’ll get the hang of it.

    Now without further ado, I present to you: The 2017-2018 HoopBall Midseason Awards

    The 2017-2018 NBA MVP Award Goes To: James Harden

    Was there really any doubt here? I even gave you the little hint in the intro to the article, which means you probably already know who the Fantasy MVP will be….oops.

    Let me just show you these numbers:

    Year A: 27.4 PPG, 7.0 APG, 5.7 RPG, 1.9 SPG, 0.7 BPG, 2.6 3PG, .440 percent from the field and 36.8 minutes per game.

    Year B: 29.0 PPG, 7.5 APG, 6.1 RPG, 1.7 SPG, 0.6 BPG, .439 percent from the field and a league leading 38.1 minutes per game.

    Yeah, Year A represents Harden’s 2014-2015 season and Year B represents his 2015-2016 season. Both of those years Stephen Curry won the MVP award, which is understandable. It was the beginning of the Warriors’ reign of terror and Chef Curry was leading the charge.

    The 2015-2016 season, it was clear that Steph was MVP, no debating. However, the same can’t be said about the 2014-2015 season. In fact, Harden actually won the MVP Award at the NBA Player’s Associations first annual Player Awards that year, which was voted on by his peers.

    Now how much weight does a NBAPA MVP Award hold? That’s up to you to decide but it does prove one thing, that season was a toss up for MVP and many people believe Harden got robbed.

    Well, not this year. This is his year.

    As of right now the Rockets are 57 games into the season and hold a record of 44-13 which is good enough to be 0.5 games ahead of the Warriors for the first seed in the West. The Rockets have taken defeated the Warriors both times they’ve played them and some people actually do believe that they have a chance of knocking off the Dubs in the Western Conference Finals.

    Since the new year began Houston is 18-4, which is the best record in the league since then, and went into the All-Star Break on a 10-game win streak. Of course the addition of Chris Paul has helped, but Harden has taken it to another level this year.

    I mean, the man recorded the NBA’s first ever 60-point triple double, which according to Basketball Reference’s Game Score Metric, was the fifth best game a player has had from 1963 up until the current day. In fact, only three other current-day NBA players have a performance within the top-10 of the Game Score Metric: LeBron James, Devin Booker and Anthony Davis.

    He’s simply amazing, he does it all and then some. He’s probably the most un-guardable player in the league. I mean look at this, what can you possibly do to stop this?

    Or this…..

    Or this….last one I promise, and yes this is on reigning Defensive Player of the Year Draymond Green.

    Somehow he’s built on the ridiculous numbers he was averaging last year as this year he’s putting up a league high 31.3 PPG to go along with 9.0 APG, 5.1 RPG, 1.8 SPG and 4.1 3PG on .448 percent shooting in 35.8 minutes.

    Three of the last four MVP’s, Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, also won the scoring title and Harden is looking to make that four out of the last five.

    When you look at the recipe for MVP it usually simply boils down to individual success plus team success, and Harden marks both of those boxes. The Rockets should finish either first or second in the West and if Harden continues to put on a show throughout Houston’s last 25 games, there’s no way he isn’t hoisting that trophy in LA on June 25th.

    Runner Up: LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

    The 2017-2018 Fantasy MVP Award Goes To: Anthony Davis

    Bet you thought it would be Harden again, don’t worry it almost was.

    I was really, really, really close to making it a Co-MVP right here.

    Like had this whole section of the article typed up for Co-MVP’s and ended up deleting it type of close.

    However, I decided to make up my mind and give it to the Brow himself, Anthony Davis.

    The Fantasy MVP is simple to me, always has been: The best player in fantasy, and that’s AD. Not to mention that he was going later than Harden in almost every draft — according to FantasyPros his ADP was 7.0 compared to Harden’s 2.7.

    Owners literally get it all with AD, who gets you points, rebounds, blocks, assists, occasional threes and a good field goal percentage. The only thing that’s not to like about AD is the injury risk, but he’s actually played more games than James Harden, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry this season.

    He’s currently the No. 1 player in fantasy with averages of 27.4 points, 10.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.3 steals, 2.1 blocks and 0.8 3-pointers on .541 shooting from the field in 36.4 minutes. Not to mention he’s really the only elite player on his team right now, whereas Harden’s got to feed Chris Paul as well.

    As saddening as the DeMarcus Cousins injury is, it has enhanced AD’s value even more. Since Cousins went down Davis is still fantasy’s number one player and averaging 30.9 points, 12.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.0 steals, 2.4 blocks and 1.4 3-pointers on .494 shooting in 37.0 minutes, which is the most minutes out of any of the players in the top-10.

    He’s got the fourth highest usage-rate among starters in that time at 33.4% and everything in New Orleans runs through him. With the Pelicans currently sitting at eighth in the West and only 0.5 games ahead of the Clippers, expect AD to get a lot of run throughout New Orleans’ last 25 games which can only be good for fantasy owners.

    Yes the injury risk is there, but it always has been and likely always will be. Made of glass or not, Anthony Davis has been this year’s fantasy MVP and whoever took him outside of the top-5 on draft day got an absolute steal.

    Runner Up: James Harden, Houston Rockets 

    The 2017-2018 NBA Rookie of The Year Award Goes To: Ben Simmons

    Two years ago in the 2016 NBA Draft Ben Simmons was drawing comparisons to LeBron James, expected to lead to Sixers to the promised land.

    And then, boom.

    A broken bone in his right foot caused him to miss the entirety of his rookie season. People even started saying he was a bust, even though he lit up the Summer League and never actually played an NBA game.

    “He can’t shoot, what if he doesn’t get that same athleticism back? Another Philly draft pick that was wasted,” said foolish NBA fans.

    Well, halfway through his first real NBA season and Ben Simmons has certainly flushed out all doubts. Well I mean, he still can’t shoot but neither could LeBron in his first season. Listen, I’m not saying that he’s LeBron but there are certain similarities that just can’t go unnoticed.

    Just take a look at LeBron’s rookie year stats and Simmons’ rookie year stats:

    2003/04 19-year-old LeBron James: 20.9 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 5.9 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.7 BPG, 41.7 percent from the field, 29.0 percent from the 3-point line and 75.4 percent from the free-throw line in 39.5 minutes.

    2017/18 21-year-old Ben Simmons: 16.4 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 7.3 APG, 1.9 SPG, 0.9 BPG, 52.7 percent from the field, 0.0 percent from the 3-point line and 56.5 percent from the free-throw line in 34.9 minutes.

    Yes, Simmons is clearly a much worse jump shooter than LeBron was when he came into the league but then again, it’s LeBron James. There’s players that have played for 15 years that still aren’t as good as he was his rookie season.

    To add a little bit of context, Simmons has only attempted 10 shots from behind the arc compared to James’ 217 so it’s quite possible that Simmons can shoot much better than he’s showed us. Now the situations that James and Simmons were drafted into are much different. Simmons was drafted to a team that already had something of a young core that he could work with while LeBron was drafted to a 17-65 team whose best player was a 23-year old Ricky Davis.

    Joel Embiid alone is better than anyone LeBron ever played with on that Cavaliers team and its not even close.

    However, that doesn’t take away from what Simmons has been able to do this season. The Sixers were 28-54 last season and finished 14th in the Eastern Conference. One year later, Simmons arrives and they’re 7th in the East at 30-25.

    He’s doing things that rookies haven’t done in years, such as joining Russell Westbrook, LeBron James and Kevin Garnett in posting more than 400 points, 200 rebounds and 150 assists across the first 25 games of a season. In fact, he’s the only rookie to do that since 1983.

    He’s leading rookies in assists, rebounds, and steals per game; he’s second in scoring and third in blocks per game and if that doesn’t scream Rookie of the Year to you then I don’t know what does.

    Simmons is one of the best rookies we’ve seen in the last decade and he’s only going to get better as the season comes to a close. If and when he develops/unleashes his jumpshot, the rest of the league will be shaking in their boots.

    You know another similarity between Simmons and James? Both didn’t make the All-Star game their rookie year. LeBron went on to make it every single year since then and don’t lie, can’t you see Simmons doing the same? Because I can.

    It’ll be close between him and Donovan Mitchell, but when all is said and done Simmons will be this season’s Rookie of the Year.

    Runner Up: Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz

    The 2017-2018 Fantasy Rookie of The Year Award Goes To: Donovan Mitchell

    Speaking of Donovan Mitchell, yeah he’s this season’s fantasy Rookie of the Year and to be honest its not as close as people think.

    On the season Mitchell is the 51st ranked player in fantasy which is first amongst all rookies, while Simmons is 61st. Where the discrepancy comes is when you think about where you had to take Mitchell in drafts compared to where you had to take Simmons.

    According to FantasyPros, Simmons’ ADP was 44.7 while Mitchell was 176.5. In many drafts Mitchell wasn’t even selected and you could’ve picked him up off of the wire.

    The fact that you could’ve gotten a top-50 player off of the wire, combined with the fact that he’s a rookie, makes him Fantasy Rookie of the Year in my eyes. Actually it’s pretty simple, just like MVP, the rookie that is the highest ranked player which is once again, Donovan Mitchell.

    He came into a Jazz team that was missing its identity with Gordon Hayward leaving for Boston and he gave them a completely new one. He brought a new, fresh feel to the Jazz and has currently been the main catalyst in the 11-game win streak they’re on. He allowed them to get rid of a seemingly problematic Rodney Hood and has taken over as the face of Utah’s franchise in just a year.

    He’s electrifying, as shown by his win in the Dunk Contest on All-Star Saturday night this past weekend. Over the season, Mitchell is averaging 19.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.4 blocks and 2.3 3-pointers on .439 shooting in 32.1 minutes.

    He’s the first rookie with multiple 40-point games before the All-Star break since the GOAT himself, Michael Jordan, and he’s just as exciting to own as he is to watch on television.

    It’s clear that Simmons is the NBA’s Rookie of the Year, but Mitchell is fantasy owners’ Rookie of the Year. He’s ranked higher on the season, was able to be nabbed up much, much later in the draft and he’ll look to keep blessing his owners down the final stretch of the season.

    Runner Up: Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers

    The 2017-2018 NBA Most Improved Player Award Goes To: Victor Oladipo

    I don’t think this was much of a surprise either.

    Oladipo went from support player on the Westbrook-led Thunder to the Alpha Dog on an Indiana Pacers team that was thought to be led by Myles Turner. Be honest, after Oladipo’s tenure in Oklahoma City no one really thought that he would, or even could, be this good. Most people in the league started to view him as a high-overall draft pick that never quite panned out as well as he was supposed to.

    Well, fast forward a year and he’s a clear All-Star and the catalyst to the Pacers being the number five seed in the East. The great thing about Oladipo’s season is that he really has IMPROVED. A lot of the time the Most Improved Player Award goes to someone whose minutes have increased, therefore allowing them to handle the ball more and of course, put up better stats. That’s not the case with Oladipo though, as his minutes are only up 1.4 from the 33.2 he averaged last year, putting him at 34.6.

    In 1.4 more minutes per game, Dipo has managed to shatter his averages in points, rebounds, assists, steals and every single shooting percentage. Take a look for yourself:

    Oladipo’s 2016-2017 Season: 15.9 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 1.9 3PG, 44.2 percent from the field, 36.1 percent from beyond the arc and 75.3 percent from the free throw line.

    Oladipo’s 2017-2018 Season: 24.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.1 APG, 2.1 SPG, 0.8 BPG, 2.3 3PG, 48.4 percent from the field, 38.1 percent from beyond the arc and 81.0 percent from the free throw line.

    He’s attempting the most shots of his career by far at 18.4 and yet still managing to shoot the best field goal percentage of his career. He’s gone from someone who was looked at as a solid role-player on a title contending team, to a legitimate NBA All-Star.

    Oladipo is ranked 17th in the entire NBA in both Player Efficiency Rating (23.84%) and Usage Rate (29.1%), which are both career-highs. He’s clearly the key to the Pacers success as they’re 0-6 without him on the season and the team itself has a net rating of +7.3 when he’s on the court and a net rating of -7.5 when he’s off it it.

    He’s also been extremely clutch this season, as you can see……

    Dipo is averaging 3.3 points when a game is within five points or less in the last five minutes, which is tied for the 17th highest in the league (man, what is up with Oladipo and the number 17?). That might not seem like much, so to put that in context James Harden, DeMarcus Cousins and Donovan Mitchell are averaging 3.4 points within that time. Actually, there are only five players averaging above 3.5 points in that span and they’re DeMar DeRozan (4.1), Kristaps Porzingis (4.1), Jimmy Butler (4.1), Kyrie Irving (4.3) and LeBron James (4.3).

    So yeah, with all that said, he’s pretty clutch.

    Oladipo has run away with this award. He’s clearly the NBA’s Most Improved Player at midseason, and it should stay that way for the rest of the season.

    Runners Up: Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic and Clint Capela, Houston Rockets 

    The 2017-2018 Fantasy Most Improved Player Award Goes To: Victor Oladipo

    Easy choice, yet again.

    I’m going to keep this one short as most of why he’s Fantasy’s MIP can be explained in the part above, but here’s a little reasoning behind the pick.

    When Giannis Antetokounmpo won the award last year, he went from the 28th ranked player in the 2015-2016 season to the 5th ranked player in the 2016-2017 season. That’s a jump of 23 spots, which is pretty great.

    Now, lets look at how many spots Oladipo has jumped.

    Last season he was the 86th ranked player on the OKC Thunder and this season he’s currently sitting at the 10th ranked player on the Indiana Pacers. You thought Giannis’ 23 spots was a big jump, well Oladipo hopped up 76 spots.

    No one, and I mean no one, expected Dipo to be a top-10 player on the season and while he might not finish within the top-10 he’s a virtual lock for at least top-20 value. According to FantasyPros, his ADP was 59.7, which basically means you got a first round player in the fourth, fifth or sixth round.

    Now, congratulate Victor Oladipo on being the first player to take home both the actual NBA award and Fantasy award.

    Runner Up: Clint Capela, Houston Rockets 

    The Not-So-Fantasy Relevant Awards

    So now we’re going to briefly go over the awards that don’t really correlate to fantasy as much as the ones mentioned earlier. Lets get into it.

    The 2017-2018 Coach of The Year Award Goes To: Mike D’Antoni

    It’s looking like D’Antoni will be taking home his third Coach of The Year award in the past 15 years and his second straight. Having three COY awards would therefore tie him with Pat Riley, Greg Popovich, Don Nelson and Larry Brown as the only coaches to do such a thing. Winning the award this season would make him the only coach to have won it in back-to-back seasons since Larry Brown did it in the ABA in the 1974-1976 seasons. The Rockets have the best record in the NBA at 44-13 with a .772 win percentage and have overtaken the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference. He’s integrated Chris Paul into his offense seamlessly and has somehow kept Harden’s numbers up while doing so. The Rockets have the second-highest offensive rating at 113.2 and make the most 3-pointers in the league with 15.7 per game. He’s got the number two and six fantasy players in James Harden and Chris Paul, not to mention orchestrating the breakout of the 32nd ranked Clint Capela. D’Antoni’s your NBA and Fantasy Coach of the Year.

    Runner Up: Brad Stevens, Boston Celtics

    The 2017-2018 Defensive Player of The Year Award Goes To: Andre Drummond

    The DPOY Award is one of the more controversial ones this year, with players such as Paul George, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Joel Embiid and Al Horford all garnering praise. However, I’m giving the award to the Pistons’ own Andre Drummond this year. No, the Pistons aren’t the best defensive team in the league but that is in no way Drummond’s fault. Just look at the stats, he’s averaging 15.1 points, 15.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.6 blocks in 33.4 minutes. Not good enough for you? Well lets take a look at his advanced stats. Drummond leads the NBA in defensive rebound percentage (36.6), defensive rating (98.7), defensive win shares (4.1) and defensive box plus/minus (5.8). He’s actually the only player with a defensive rating of under 100 and a defensive win shares number over 3.3 in the NBA. Not to mention, the Pistons aren’t THAT bad of a defensive team. They’ve got the 10th best defensive rating with 105.0 and allow the third-fewest second chance points in the league at 10.9. They’re in the top half of the league in the amount of points in the paint they allow at 43.1 and they’re severely underrated, just as Drummond has been this season.

    Runner Up: Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors 

    The 2017-2018 Sixth Man of The Year Award Goes To: Lou Williams

    The 6ix God Himself, Lou Williams has not only made a case for the sixth man but the most improved player as well. The man was almost an All-Star while coming off of the bench, who does that? Yes, he started a couple of games but for the majority of the season he’s come off the bench. He’s leading the NBA in points off the bench with 22.0 per game and is second in assists at 5.1 per game. Williams is fifth in 3-pointers made off of the bench with 2.6 and he’s even taken home a Western Conference Player of the Week Award. Oh yeah, and he 50-bombed the Warriors this season, one of the NBA’s best defensive teams. To be honest, this award isn’t even close and Lou Williams should undoubtedly be hoisting this trophy come June 25th.

    Runners Up: Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets and Tyreke Evans, Memphis Grizzlies 

    The Not-So-NBA Relevant Awards

    Now we’re going to take a look at some awards that relate much more to fantasy owners than the actual NBA, which is what you’ve all probably been waiting for. So here goes nothing.

    The 2017-2018 Biggest Fantasy Bust Award Goes To: Kawhi Leonard

    If you drafted Kawhi Leonard that day probably haunts you. You most likely curse the day that you clicked that “Draft” button on The Klaw. You knew he was bound to miss a couple games as he wasn’t healthy going into the season but neither you nor anyone else (not even the Spurs) knew Leonard would be out for this long. After all, he’d played 72 games in each of the past two seasons. Yeah well we’re 59 games deep into the Spurs season and he hasn’t even played in 10 of those. The Spurs are 35-24 and are currently sitting at third in the Western Conference so they are a lock for the playoffs, which means they really don’t have any incentive to bring Leonard back before playoff time. He’s only played nine games and is still the 22nd ranked per-game player on the season, which shows just how good he is. Throughout those nine games he averaged 16.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.0 steals, 1.0 blocks and 1.2 3-pointers on 46.8 percent shooting in 23.3 minutes. According to FantasyPros, his ADP was 9.7 which means owners most likely took him in the first round. To get nine games out of a first rounder is brutal and if you’re in a deep league then it’s very possible that losing him alone sunk your season. The “out indefinitely” tag was slapped on Leonard in January and we haven’t seen him since. As great as Kawhi is and has been, there’s no doubt that he’s this season’s biggest bust.

    Runner Up: Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves (yeah, remember him?)

    The 2017-2018 “Player I’m Really, Really Glad I Drafted” Award Goes To: Gary Harris 

    Harris did have a lot of hype going into the season, and thankfully he’s lived up to it. He’s the 33rd ranked player on the season and sitting ahead of guys like Bradley Beal, DeMar DeRozan, Devin Booker and Blake Griffin. According to FantasyPros, his ADP was 93.7 which is at least 50 spots lower than every guy formerly mentioned. He’s averaging 17.5 points, 2.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.8 steals and 2.4 3-pointers on .484 percent shooting in 34.9 minutes per game. He actually started the season off pretty badly, which sent many owners into a frenzied panic (a frenzied panic? is that even a thing? let’s just stick with it). I was one of those owners and I actually traded Harris off of my team in a trade that I can’t exactly remember, but I’m pretty sure I lost it. He’s been getting better and better as the season goes on and I know his owners are glad they drafted him.

    Runners Up: Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets and Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns 

    The 2017-2018 Waiver Wire Pickup of the Year Award Goes To: Donovan Mitchell

    I’ve talked about Mitchell enough. We all know he’s amazing, don’t we?

    Runner Up: Tyreke Evans, Memphis Grizzlies 

    The 2017-2018 Member of the Hoop Ball Six That We Might’ve Gotten Wrong Award Goes To: Richaun Holmes

    Yeahhhhh, ummmmmm Holmes is the 259th ranked player on the season and he’s not showing any signs of bringing that up over the Sixers’ last 25 games. We projected him as being a top-75 guy and that basically blew up right when the Sixers realized Joel Embiid was a monster and started playing Amir Johnson and Trevor Booker over him. The potential is there though, if the Sixers would only choose to unleash it or trade him to a team willing to. Last season Holmes was the 32nd ranked player over the last month of the season so it was very plausible for us to believe that he would fall within the top-75. When the minutes are there he pumps out useful lines, but the minutes are almost never there. The great thing is, he was drafted around the 147th pick so you didn’t realllllly lose that much. We got it wrong, we know. But hey, we’re all allowed one pass right? Right?

    Runner Up: Taurean Prince, Atlanta Hawks 

    The 2017-2018 “Player That I Expect To Have A Great Rest of The Season” Award Goes To: D’Angelo Russell 

    Things were going great for Russell before he got injured earlier in the season as he was averaging 20.9 points, 5.7 assists and 4.7 rebounds. He’s got the highest ceiling out of any player on the Nets and there’s no way they traded away one of the best players their franchise has ever had in Brook Lopez for a player they plan to let wallow away on the bench. Coach Kenny Atkinson has said that DLO needs to get more time with the starters and what better time to do that then after the All-Star break. Last season Jeremy Lin played 12 games before the All-Star break and then broke out once it ended, averaging 15.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.8 3-pointers on .486 percent shooting in 29.6 minutes. Over the last month of the season Lin was the 54th ranked player and I’m optimistic that the Nets unleash Russell like that this season. Spencer Dinwiddie‘s arrival has taken a little bit of the spotlight off of Russell but don’t get it twisted, he’s their most talented player and most definitely has the highest fantasy ceiling on that team. I’ve got hope that DLoading gets back to showing us just why he’s got all of that ice in his veins.

    Runner Up: Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic 

    Whew, so that’s it.

    That concludes this year’s HoopBall Midseason Award Show and it’ll be fun to see how many of these awards stick throughout the rest of the season.

    Hope you guys enjoyed reading this is much as I enjoyed writing it and now let’s head into the final stretch of the fantasy basketball season.

    Good Luck HoopBallers!

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