NBA teams were informed by the league last Friday that none of the seeding games slated to start on July 30th will be taken into consideration for the postseason player awards.

Included in the memo was the following: "The decision to exclude seeding games from awards voting ensures a fair process in which players and coaches from all 30 teams will have the same opportunity to be honored as top performers for the regular season."

This means that all individual awards will be based solely on the season up to the March 11th pause. However, statistical awards will remain up for grabs until the end of the seeding games sometime in mid-August.

Now that it is known that all player awards will be solely based on play before the March 11th pause, we can equitably assemble our picks to win the NBA's top awards.


MVP - Lebron James

Lebron James for 2020 NBA MVP Steve Dykes/Getty Images

While the reigning 2019 MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo is a favorite pick for back to back MVP awards, our pick for MVP is with the King: Lebron James. Although the "Greek Freak" may be dominating in various statistical categories, including field goals, points, blocks, and rebounds, Lebron's overall achievements this season should be enough to grant the 4-time MVP his 5th award. Leading the league this year in assists, his ability to maximize the talent around him only adds to his case. James has led this Laker team to top spot in a stacked Western Conference, he has exceeded the expectations of what anyone thought possible in their 17th season of basketball, and it looks like he's far from being done.

Rookie of the Year - Ja Morant

Ja Morant

There was a good chance the Rookie of the Year Award may have gone to Zion Williamson of the Utah Jazz before the announcement of seedling game exclusions, but with only counting his 19 played games this season, Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies is undoubtedly the pick for rookie of the year. Morant is one of only three rookie players in the NBA to ever average over 20 points and 8 assists in their first year. Morant leads a young core group of players that are looking to establish themselves as playoff contenders in Memphis, and he provides the superstar foundation that teams are looking to harness for the future.

Sixth Man Award - Dennis Schroder

Dennis Schroder for 2020 NBA Sixth Man Mike Stobe/Getty Images

This one was a tough call between Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams of the LA Clippers and Dennis Schroder of the Oklahoma City Thunder, but Schroder's ability to carry his team this season won our pick for sixth man. Of course, his 19 point and 31 minutes played average helps prove our case, as well.

The Thunder have put together an unexpected season after the departures of both Russell Westbrook and Paul George. While Chris Paul has been the biggest reason for Oklahoma City's fifth-place standing in the western conference, it can also be attributed to the play of Schroder coming off the bench and maintaining a high level of scoring ability from the guard position.

Defensive Player of the Year - Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis for 2020 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

It's finally time for the Lakers' Anthony Davis to win Defensive Player of the Year. Statistics may favor reigning champ Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz, but Davis' defensive game this year simply can't be matched. The Lakers rank third in the league for points allowed per 100 possessions, mostly due to Davis.

The Frank Vogel-led Laker defense has allowed Davis to play at his natural position of power forward as the Lakers have made a point to bring in traditional centers so Davis wouldn't have to play out of position the way he did in New Orleans. This has allowed Davis to have much better matchups and has also allowed him to roam in the paint more to disrupt opposing offenses from getting easy scores.

Most Improved Player - Bam Adebayo

Bam Adebayo for 2020 NBA Most Improved Player Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Bam Adebayo of the Miami Heat had a phenomenal year coming off of a two-year reserve role for the Heat–one which earned him our pick for most improved. As a starter this year, he put up an impressive line of stats and has proven that he can defend any opponent. Much like Dennis Schroder's Thunder, the Heat have over-performed compared to expectations, and Adebayo has proven to be one of the most promising young talents in the league, earning his first all-star selection this season.

Coach of the Year - Nick Nurse

Coach Nick Nurse for 2020 NBA Coach of the Year Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Coach Nick Nurse of the Toronto Raptors unequivocally gets our pick for how he handled his team this year. Things didn't look promising for the Raptors at the beginning of the season with the loss of their 2019 MVP, Kawhi Leonard, and the rocky start of the season due to injuries. At one point, the Raptors weren't projected to even make the playoffs–now they sit at 2nd place in the eastern conference. Without Nurse at the helm to adapt to the constant changes needed this season in lineups, we doubt the Raptors would be where they are right now.

Voting for the awards began on the 21st and will run through the 28th of July.

Paul George grabbing a rebound in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals

Barry Gossage/Getty Images

In a must win game for the Los Angeles Clippers, Paul George was finally able to look like the best player on the floor in a playoff game.

After a slow start, George poured it on in the second half on his way to a game high 41 points in Game 5. The performance elevated the Clippers over strong outings from the likes of Devin Booker and Chris Paul as L.A. outlasted Phoenix 116-102.

The Clippers don't have much time to bask in their win however as they have to turn around and play two more elimination games just to make it out of the West. The Suns jumped out to a 3-1 series lead as Los Angeles struggled to find their identity without Kawhi Leonard. If the Clippers are to stave off elimination any longer, George has to continue this level of play.

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Ben Simmons disappointed in the playoffs this season

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Following a Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, the Philadelphia 76ers and coach, Doc Rivers, are questioning if Ben Simmons is the right guy to be running their offense through moving forward.

Offense being the key word here.

Simmons is an all-world defender possessing the ability to guard virtually any opponent on the court from the perimeter to the rim. But it was his lack of offensive help throughout this playoff season that stood out beyond any accomplishments this year. Simmons joined Rudy Gobert as unanimous selections for the NBA's All-Defensive First Team this year and also finished fifth in the NBA in assists per game with 8.8 per contest.

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The Lakers looked lost in the Valley

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Phoenix Suns are just a win away from sending LeBron James home in the first round of the playoffs for the first time in the King's illustrious career.

After stating that "These shoulders were built for a reason," James referring to facing the challenge of taking on added responsibilities after Anthony Davis was ruled out for Game 5, the Lakers and LeBron disappointed in a big way Tuesday night. L.A. started off hot jumping out to a 10-5 lead behind a couple shots from James and a three from Davis' replacement Markieff Morris. But it didn't take long for the wheels to completely fall off for the defending champion Lakers as they spent most of the first half trying to remember how basketball works.

LeBron James LeBron looking on during Game 5Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Two numbers stick out in the Game 5 loss for the Lakers and those are 34.5 and 12. Los Angeles shot 34.5% from the field on Tuesday night and were minus 12 in turnover ratio. No matter who's on your team, if you can't shoot and you can't protect the ball, the outcome is already determined.

The Suns weren't simply beneficiaries of a poor performance however as the Suns put it on the Lakers early and often and they never let their foot off the pedal for 48 minutes. Phoenix ended with 15 more assists, had seven more combined steals and blocks, and outscored L.A. in the paint by 12 points. Devin Booker and Cameron Payne were spectacular and they seemed to hit big shots every time the Lakers appeared to threaten a comeback. Mikal Bridges was effective on both sides of the ball adding three steals and two blocks to help electrify his team with the defensive effort.


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