Rick Bonnell’s award predictions for the 2016-17 NBA season
Most Valuable Player
LeBron James: When the same player is an NBA champion’s best point guard offensively and best power forward defensively, that’s some package. He is this generation’s Magic Johnson.
Rookie of the Year
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Buddy Hield: He’s physically and mentally mature, which isn’t always the case with rookies. And he’ll get a lot of shots with the New Orleans Pelicans.
Defensive Player of the Year
Hassan Whiteside: The Miami center (and Gastonia native) is an explosive shot-blocker and grabs rebounds by the dozens. He has to be great in order for the Heat to contend with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh gone.
Most Improved Player
D’Angelo Russell: With Kobe Bryant retired, the Los Angeles Lakers are basically Russell’s team now. He’ll put up big numbers on a bad team.
Sixth Man of the Year
Andre Iguodala: He’s comfortable either coming off the bench or starting at this point. He’ll get plenty of exposure, with the Warriors on national television constantly.
Coach of the Year
Tom Thibodeau: One of the NBA’s great defensive minds, Thibodeau has a driven work ethic. He inherits a great young roster in Minneapolis.