NBA Lead’s Mid-Season Awards


Now that we’ve reached the mid-way point of the regular season, it seems a fitting time to hand out Mid-Season Awards. Preston Dubey and Jordan Schauberger will each give you their picks for individual award winners, and respective finalists, as well as All-NBA, All-Defense, and All-Rookie team predictions.


First, let’s take a look at Preston Dubey’s picks …


MVP – James Harden

Marie D. De Jesus / Houston Chronicle

James Harden will, at last, get the MVP he probably should have already won last year. Through the first half of the season, Harden’s 32.3 PPG is leading the league in scoring, and by a significant margin. Second-place Giannis Antetokounmpo (28.7) trails by three and a half points per game. Harden’s 9.1 assists per game trails only Westbrook (10.1), and gives him a slight edge over LeBron and John Wall (9.0).

In Harden’s sixth season in Houston, he is playing is best, most efficient basketball. His 62.7 TS% and 54.9 eFG% are both the highest he’s posted as a Rocket. This is the first time in his career he’s had an assist/turnover ratio above 2.0. Not that he doesn’t get a ton of assists, he’s also prone to turnovers. His usage is at an all-time high for him (36%), but he’s still averaging one less turnover per game than he did last year.

As I write this, I don’t expect Harden to miss much more time; he has been out since the calendar turned to 2018. Hopefully he returns soon, and at full strength, to claim the MVP that he has himself set up to finally win.

Runners Up … LeBron James, Steph Curry

Most Improved Player – Victor Oladipo

Brian Spurlock / USA TODAY Sports

The leap from one season to the next that Victor Oladipo has made is almost surreal. Currently averaging 24.5 points per game, up from 15.9 a year ago, Oladipo is running away with this award. Last season he shot 36% on 5.3 three-point attempts per game, this year he’s shooting 42% on 6.3 attempts. He’s also improved his field goal percentage, free throw percentage, assists, rebounds, steals, blocks, box plus/minus, value over replacement player, and is on pace to more than double his win shares total.

[RELATED]: How Victor Oladipo has improved tremendously in his fifth season

Runners Up … Kristaps Porzingis, Spencer Dinwiddie

6th Man of the Year – Lou Williams

Andrew D. Bernstein / NBAE via Getty Images

At age 31, Lou Williams is having the best year of his career with the LA Clippers. Lou has started in just 8 of the team’s 38 games thus far, and figures to continue coming off the bench. He’s averaging a career high 22.2 points per game, in addition to shooting over 40% from beyond the arc and 90% from the free throw line for the first time in his career.

Lou-Will is one of the most potent bench scorers the league has ever seen, and should win his second 6th Man of the Year award, putting him one behind Jamal Crawford.  He also just scored a career-high 50 points in a win against the best team in the league.

Runners Up … Marcus Smart, Jeremy Lamb

Defensive Player of the Year – Kevin Durant

Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images

Kevin Durant has taken the reigns as the best defensive player on the Golden State Warriors. It’s really not fair for the rest of the league to have to go up against a 7’0” forward who can move and switch on defense like Durant. Not only is he unlocking the full strength of Golden State’s small-ball lineup, he’s protecting the rim as well as anybody in the league. KD narrowly trails only Kristaps Porzingis in total blocks and blocks per game.  Durant’s 2.2 to KP’s 2.3 per game, and 76 to 79 total.

Durant is allowing a 39.3 FG% on shots he defends.  This leads the league among players who defend at least 12 shots per game.  He defends shots at the rim with the frequency of a center, with better efficiency than any non-center.  KD’s 52.1% given up on shots within six feet of the rim gives him a slight edge over Draymond Green, who also defends at a big man’s rate in the paint.

Runners Up … Jimmy Butler, Marcus Smart

Rookie of the Year – Ben Simmons

Andrew Dieb / USA TODAY Sports

Ben Simmons is unique as a rookie, obviously. For one, he had the benefit of an entire year of NBA training and coaching under his belt before he officially started his rookie season. That experience paid dividends. Simmons has been a triple-double threat since game one (he’s recorded four of them already), and has handled the point guard role as well as anybody could have predicted.

Head Coach Brett Brown has been emphatic from the beginning that Ben Simmons is his point guard. Coach made a good call. Simmons looks comfortable and confident with the ball in his hands, and has shown a knack for orchestrating the offense. He’s recorded double-digit assists nine times, including a career-high 15 as part of a triple-double effort against the Lakers.

If Simmons maintains or improves his stat line, and the 76ers remain in the playoff hunt, I expect #TheProcess to net its first Rookie of the Year Award.

Runners Up … Jayson Tatum, Donovan Mitchell

Coach of the Year – Brad Stevens

Omar Rawlings / Getty Images

Brad Stevens this season has put himself on the level of coaches like Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr, maintaining the greatness of his team despite losing their best player for a large chunk of time. Pop has worked wonders this season keeping that team on its pace without Kawhi. What Stevens has done with Boston after losing Gordon Hayward the way that they did is simply remarkable.

Boston is leading the East at 34-10 and played a brutally difficult schedule through the first half of the season. Rookie Jayson Tatum is displaying veteran-like efficiency, Kyrie Irving is an above-average defender, and Al Horford is playing the best basketball of his career at age 31. The Celtics boast the league’s best defense and impressively held two of the best offenses in league history, Golden State and Houston, under 100 points each.

The final standings should impact, but not ultimately decide this award. Boston currently leads Toronto for the 1 seed in the East. If that were to change, I’d expect Dwayne Casey to get heavy consideration, as he should.

Runners Up … Erik Spoelstra, Dwane Casey


1st Team

GJames HardenHouston Rockets32.3 ppg, 9.1 apg, 5.0 rpg
GStephen CurryGolden State Warriors27.9 ppg, 6.4 apg, 5.2 rpg
FLeBron JamesCleveland Cavaliers27.2 ppg, 9.0 apg, 8.2 rpg
FGiannis AntetokounmpoMilwaukee Bucks28.7 ppg, 4.7 apg, 10.1 rpg
CDeMarcus CousinsNew Orleans Pelicans25.8 ppg, 5.1 apg, 12.5 rpg

2nd Team

GDeMar DeRozanToronto Raptors25.3 ppg, 5.0 apg, 4.3 rpg
GRussell WestbrookOklahoma City Thunder31.4 ppg, 10.1 apg, 9.6 rpg
FKevin DurantGolden State Warriors25.9 ppg, 5.3 apg, 7.1 rpg
FAnthony DavisNew Orleans Pelicans25.8 ppg, 2.4 apg, 10.3 rpg
CClint CapelaHouston Rockets14.2 ppg, 1.2 apg, 11.1 ppg

3rd Team

GKyrie IrvingBoston Celtics24.1 ppg, 5.0 apg, 3.5 rpg
GJimmy ButlerMinnesota Timberwolves21.5 ppg, 5.1 apg, 5.3 rpg
FAnthony DavisNew Orleans Pelicans22.6 ppg, 1.9 apg, 8.7 rpg
FAl HorfordBoston Celtics13.4 ppg, 5.3 apg, 7.8 rpg
CKarl-Anthony TownsMinnesota Timberwolves20.2 ppg, 2.1 apg, 11.9 rpg


1st Team

Marcus SmartBoston CelticsDRtg 98.6, DFG% 41.6
 Andre RobersonOklahoma City ThunderDrtg 96.5, DFG% 44.1
Kevin DurantGolden State WarriorsDRtg 104.1, DFG% 39.3
Robert CovingtonPhiladelphia 76ersDrtg 100.9, DFG% 48.6
Joel EmbiidPhiladelphia 76ersDrtg 99.3, DFG% 39.5

2nd Team

Danny GreenSan Antonio SpursDrtg 100.6, DFG% 44.9
Jimmy ButlerMinnesota TimberwolvesDrtg 103.3, DFG% 44.9
Otto Porter Jr.Washington WizardsDrtg 101.6, DFG% 47.6
Draymond GreenGolden State WarriorsDrtg 101.3, DFG% 43.4
Aron BaynesBoston CelticsDrtg 94.0, DFG% 44.3


1st Team

GBen SimmonsPhiladelphia 76ers16.9 ppg, 7.5 apg, 8.4 rpg
FJayson TatumBoston Celtics13.9 ppg, 1.3 apg, 5.5 rpg
GDonovan MitchellUtah Jazz18.5 ppg, 3.4 apg, 3.3 rpg
FKyle KuzmaLos Angeles Lakers17.1 ppg, 1.7 apg, 6.3 rpg
FLauri MarkannenChicago Bulls14.9 ppg, 1.3 apg, 7.6 rpg

2nd Team

GLonzo BallLos Angeles Lakers10.2 ppg, 7.0 apg, 6.9 rpg
FJohn CollinsAtlanta Hawks10.8 ppg, 1.1 apg, 6.7 rpg
GDe’Aaron FoxSacramento Kings10.0 ppg, 4.0 apg, 2.8 rpg
FOG AnunobyToronto Raptors6.3 ppg, 0.8 apg, 2.2 rpg
GFrank NtilikinaNew York Knicks5.8 ppg, 3.4 apg, 2.3 rpg


Now let’s check out Jordan Schauberger’s award winners at the mid-way point …

( @schaubeezy )


Gregory Shamus / Getty Images

Let’s preface this with the fact that LeBron James should be the MVP every single season. There is no debate about that. Place him on any team in the league and they’re instantly a title contender. Heck, I think he could even take a few college teams to a finals. He is the one true game changer in the league. Since entering the league in 2004, he’s lead the league in TPA (total points added) nine times and has only finished outside of the top five once (he was 32nd his rookie season). This season he’s on pace to finish first again, and it’s not even close. James Harden and Russell Westbrook are the only players within striking distance, and they are both at least 40 points behind him. Outside of his own personal stats, James is willing the Cavaliers into any semblance of a playoff team. Take him off the team, and they’re at the bottom of the standings. Some other players may have better stats (barely), but they don’t add the sort of value to their teams that James does to the Cavaliers.


Jeremy Brevard / USA TODAY Sports

Lost in the hype over the renaissance Victor Oladipo is experiencing in Indiana is the monster season that Aaron Gordon is having. Prior to the 2017-18 campaign, Gordon was averaging just 9.1 points and 5.1 rebounds throughout his career. So far this season, he’s posting 18.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Gordon has had more opportunities on offensive since players like Serge Ibaka have left, but these stats aren’t just a product of more shots. His 47 percent shooting from the field is keeping pace with his career average, but 39 percent from behind the arc is well above the 28 percent he shot through his first three seasons. His higher efficiency also comes on three more attempt per game. Gordon’s play has been much improved this season, but the lack of recognition is largely due to the lackluster play of the Magic. They currently have the second worst record in league and are in free fall after a strong start to the year.


(Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images)

Is this one even in doubt? After dropping 50 points on the Warriors, Lou Williams now leads the Clippers in points per game (22.9). He’s doing it on incredibly efficient numbers, shooting 45 percent from the field and 41 percent from deep. Williams also is pacing himself for career highs in assists (5.1) and rebounds (2.9). The craziest part of his production isn’t the actual stats, but the fact that he’s doing all of this in just above 31 minutes per game. The only way someone could catch up to Williams is if they go on a historic run during the second half of the season.


Gregory Shamus / Getty Images

The last five defensive players of the year finished top of the league in defensive points added. So far this season, Andre Drummond leads the league in DPA by a large margin. He also leads the league in defensive efficiency, and the next closest player is Joel Embiid whose missed extended time this season. To add to that, he’s also a defensive difference maker for the Pistons. When Drummond is on the court, they’re a top five defensive unit, and they’re in the bottom half of the league without him. Drummond is also trending for career highs in defensive rebounds (10.2), steals (1.6), and blocks (1.7).


Jeff Swinger / USA TODAY Sports

Donovan Mitchell is playing at All-Star level this year. It’s yet to be determined if he’ll get there, but that would be something that even LeBron James was unable to do. He’s averaging 18.4 points this season and has been playing even better lately. He dropped 41 points (the first rookie since Blake Griffin to do so) back in December and is a threat to post 30 on any given night. In any other year, Mitchell would be a shoo-in for the award, but Ben Simmons will definitely give him a run for his money. Simmons is a triple-double machine at the guard-forward position, but Mitchell’s more defined offensive role should give him the edge in the end.


Glenn James / NBAE via Getty Images

Under Dwane Casey, the Raptors have made the playoffs the last four seasons and won more than 50 games the last two seasons. So, why award him now? Despite the dynamic nature of the NBA, Casey has operated with roughly the same squad throughout his time in Toronto and improves every season but overachieves on expectations. The Eastern Conference going into the season was billed as a race between the ever dangerous Cavaliers, the Kyrie-led Celtics, the dynamic Wizards, and the up and coming 76ers, but it seemed like the Raptors were being pushed to the bottom end of the playoff picture. At the season’s half way point, Casey has Toronto three games out of the top spot of the Eastern Conference. On top of that, the Raptors have the highest point differential in the East (7.7) after finishing sixth (4.2) last year. Through his consistency, Casey has Toronto firing on all cylinders this season and primed to shock the NBA.


1st Team 

G – Russell Westbrook

G – James Harden

F – LeBron James

F – Giannis Antetokounmpo

C – DeMarcus Cousins

2nd Team

G – Kyrie Irving

G – Steph Curry

F – Kevin Durant

F – Anthony Davis

C – Karl Anthony-Towns

3rd Team

G – DeMar DeRozan

G – Jimmy Butler

F – LaMarcus Aldridge

F – Kristaps Porzingis

C – Andre Drummond


1st Team                                  

G – Ben Simmons

G – Donovan Mitchell

F – Jayson Tatum

F – Kyle Kuzma

C – Lauri Markkanen

2nd Team

G – Lonzo Ball

G – De’Aaron Fox

F – Bogdan Bogdanovic

F – OG Anunoby

C – Jordan Bell


1st Team

G – Russell Westbrook

G – Marcus Smart

F – Draymond Green

F – Al Horford

C – Andre Drummond

2nd Team

G – Ben Simmons

G – Jimmy Butler

F – LeBron James

F – Giannis Antetokounmpo

C – Clint Capela

Agree or disagree? Post your thoughts below!

About Preston Dubey

Lifelong basketball fanatic and Bucks' supporter I coach basketball; but I eat, sleep, and breathe the game.

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