Observer NBA writer Rick Bonnell projects awards for the 2018-19 season, which starts Tuesday:
Rookie of the Year: Cleveland’s Collin Sexton. Lots of strong candidates here, including the Hornets’ Miles Bridges. My thinking is the Cavs can only be good if point guard Sexton has major impact.
Coach of the Year: Utah’s Quin Snyder. Innovative in play design and has the players to be balanced on offense and defense.
Defensive Player of the Year: Utah’s Rudy Gobert. Sometimes shot-blockers get excessive credit for their overall impact defensively. Not in this case.
Sixth Man award: Golden State’s DeMarcus Cousins. He might start once he’s healthy, but wouldn’t it be a cool story if he helped the Warriors win another title as a super sub?
Most Improved Player: Miami’s Josh Richardson. This is the award hardest to define because “Improved” is so subjective based on circumstance. But Richardson has star-in-the-making potential.
Most Valuable Player: Lakers’ LeBron James. If James can drag this cobbled-together roster to the second round of the playoffs, it would be a whole new testament to his talent, savvy and gravitas.