With the 2022-23 NBA regular season now upon us, it is time to make some predictions about how things could unfold during the season. This is always a fun exercise for basketball fans to take part in and then come back to at the end of the season and see how well your predictions turned out.
We will be taking a look at some of the hardware that is handed out at the end of every season and share some of the top candidates for every award. Each year, some teams and players come out of nowhere and factor into the races for awards.
We will try and pinpoint some of them along with some of the top contenders for each award. Without further ado, let’s get started with the Executive of the Year award.
Executive of the Year
Several front offices have a person that will vie for the Executive of the Year this season. This is a race that was won by Zach Kleiman of the Memphis Grizzlies last season. The Minnesota Timberwolves, who acquired Rudy Gober this offseason in a blockbuster trade, could be this year’s Grizzlies, meaning Tim Connelly could be in line for some recognition.
Travis Schlenk and Landry Fields of the Atlanta Hawks could also receive praise for acquiring Dejounte Murray from the San Antonio Spurs in another blockbuster. Koby Altman of the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Donovan Mitchell trade is another person in the running. If the Philadelphia 76ers can break through, Daryl Morey is another candidate and Sean Marks of the Brooklyn Nets deserves some credit for being able to keep the Brooklyn Nets together for at least one more season.
Sixth Man of the Year
Last year’s winner of this award was Tyler Herro of the Miami Heat. If he isn’t inserted into the starting lineup and puts together another strong season, he will once again be a contender for the award. Two former Indiana Pacers who will be on new teams this season, Malcolm Brogdon with the Boston Celtics and T.J. Warren of the Brooklyn Nets, would make some noise in this category if they can stay healthy.
Another former Pacer, Caris LeVert, is someone to keep an eye on should he not lock down the starting small forward spot with the Cavaliers. Russell Westbrook could find magic coming off the bench with the Lakers and being able to play his style of game.
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Some under-the-radar, younger contenders for the award would be Immanuel Quickley of the New York Knicks and Bones Hyland of the Denver Nuggets. Hyland is an explosive scoring guard that comes off the bench for a winning team, which is usually a winning recipe. Quickley has outperformed expectations since being a first-round pick in 2020 and is in a position to lead what could be an explosive Knicks bench.
Most Improved Player
The Most Improved Player of the Year award went to Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies last season. It was a selection that some people didn’t agree with as Morant was already an established player and in the MVP running. But, he did see his statistics improve across the board.
This is an award that focuses on younger players taking their game to another level. Tyrese Maxey of the Philadelphia 76ers could garner some attention after he averaged 20+ points per game in his first postseason appearance. Ayo Dosunmu, who is going to be the starting point guard for the Chicago Bulls with Lonzo Ball sidelined, has a great shot to improve his statistics across the board.
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Davion Mitchell of the Sacramento Kings, now that Tyrese Haliburton isn’t on the roster, could see plenty of more opportunities. Jalen Smith of the Indiana Pacers, who had his third-year option declined by the Indiana Pacers, has already locked down a starting spot and has a chance to play big minutes on a rebuilding team.
Defensive Player of the Year
The Defensive Player of the Year award was won by Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics last season. He was the first guard to win the award since Gary Payton during the 1995-96 season. Will another guard win it this season? The odds are certainly stacked against him as there are plenty of deserving candidates.
For big men, Rudy Gobert, Bam Adebayo and Anthony Davis are strong candidates. Giannis Antetokounmpo is still waiting to earn his first one, while Draymond Green is always among the favorites as well. Mikal Bridges is a wing player to keep an eye on and Evan Mobley’s defense has been praised as well.
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Mobley’s teammate, Jarrett Allen, is someone that could garner some attention for this award as well. Mitchell Robinson of the New York Knicks and Myles Turner of the Indiana Pacers are two more players that may make some noise with their shot-blocking ability.
Coach of the Year
The Coach of the Year in the NBA last season was Monty Williams of the Phoenix Suns. The Suns had the best record in the regular season, so Williams deserved the award for the work he did after many thought he was snubbed the season before. There has never been a back-to-back winner of this award, so it is with almost certainty that another head coach will win this award this season.
Taylor Jenkins of the Memphis Grizzlies is a strong candidate here as Memphis is coming off a season in which they won the second most games in the NBA. Chris Finch of the Timberwolves will be in the running if they find as much success as they are hoping to.
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A dark horse candidate is Mike Brown of the Sacramento Kings. If they snap their playoff drought of 16 years, he could be the favorite. Chauncey Billups turning around the Trail Blazers after a disastrous first season could garner some votes as well. Michael Malone getting the Denver Nuggets over the hump or Tyronn Lue guiding the LA Clippers to the success many expect them to have, makes for two more strong candidates.
The reigning MVP in the NBA is Nikola Jokic of the Nuggets, who has won the award for two consecutive seasons. Could he make it a third consecutive year? It will certainly be a tall task, as there is a ton of worthy contenders for this award.
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Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic and Joel Embiid are going to be right there until the end. The old guard of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and LeBron James are still more than capable of protruding at an MVP level.
If they can remain healthy, Kawhi Leonard, Damian Lillard and Zion Williamson are three more contenders for the award this season Ja Morant, Jayson Tatum, and Anthony Edwards are younger players looking to crash the party as well.