Charlotte Observer NBA writer Rick Bonnell predicts winners of the annual awards presented at the end of the regular season.
Most Valuable Player
LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
Comment: This could be a huge season for New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, but will the Pelicans have a good enough record to propel Davis’ MVP campaign?
Coach of the Year
Billy Donovan, Oklahoma City Thunder
Comment: Donovan inherited a loaded roster that is on the mend after an injury-filled season at OKC.
Most Improved Player
Nikola Mirotic, Chicago Bulls
Comment: Coach Fred Hoiberg is talking about bringing Joakim Noah off the bench so Mirotic can be a starter at forward.
Defensive Player of the Year
Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
Comment: He’s definitive of the NBA’s move toward slightly shorter, but far more athletic, power forwards.
David West, San Antonio Spurs
Comment: He gave up $11 million in guarantees with the Indiana Pacers to chase a championship ring with the Spurs.
Rookie of the Year
Jahlil Okafor, Philadelphia 76ers
Comment: Okafor’s low-post scoring will carry lots of votes, but keep an eye on Bulls forward Bobby Portis.
First team: G Stephen Curry, Warriors; G James Harden, Rockets; F LeBron James, Cavaliers; F Anthony Davis, Pelicans; C Marc Gasol, Grizzlies.
Second team: G Chris Paul, Clippers; G Jimmy Butler, Bulls; F Kevin Durant, Thunder; F Blake Griffin, Clippers; C Pau Gasol, Bulls.
Third team: G Russell Westbrook, Thunder; G Klay Thompson, Warriors; F Paul Millsap, Hawks; F LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs; C Brook Lopez, Nets.