NBA Math’s Staff Award Picks for 2016-17

You’ve watched a plethora of games. You’ve followed the debates throughout the entirety of the 2016-17 campaign. You’ve seen the endless stream of highlights. You’ve checked out the numbers.

Now, after so many NBA events have come and gone, it’s finally awards season.

Eight different writers and staff members at NBA Math filled out ballots for each of the major awards, covering everything from the highly divisive MVP race to the 10 men who should be honored with All-Rookie selections. Each distinction was approached just as it is in reality, with everyone picking their top five MVP candidates, selecting their top three choices for all other individual awards and completing the necessary rosters for the remaining accolades.

Without further ado, let’s see what happened.

1. James Harden, Houston Rockets (33 points, 1 first-place vote)

2. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder (32 points, 5 first-place votes)

3. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs (26 points, 2 first-place votes)

4. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers (21 points)

5. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks (3 points)

Others Receiving Votes: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors (2 points); Isaiah Thomas, Boston Celtics (2 points); Rudy Gobert (1 point)

It was always going to be a battle between James Harden and Russell Westbrook. The former narrowly edged out the latter despite earning just a single first-place vote, because while Westbrook showed up in third or fourth on a few ballots, Harden never placed outside the top two.

There’s simply no wrong answer here. The only truly incorrect decision would be thinking either candidate should win in a runaway, especially since there’s not even that much separation between the two guards and the forwards directly trailing them in the MVP hierarchy.

1. Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors (21 points, 5 first-place votes)

2. Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz (19 points, 3 first-place votes)

3. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs (4 points)

Others Receiving Votes: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks (2 points); Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans (1 point); Thabo Sefolosha, Atlanta Hawks (1 point)

In another close race, Draymond Green gets the edge on Rudy Gobert because of his all-consuming versatility. He may rub many the wrong way and has the luxury of playing on a stacked team, but his intensity and ability to switch onto any matchup or protect the rim gave him the slight lead over Gobert’s rim-protecting excellence.

Throughout the eight NBA Math ballots, the two aforementioned stoppers were unanimously featured in the top two. It was only the No. 3 finisher that saw any sort of deviation, with four different players showing up and earning credit for their point-preventing heroics.

1. Malcolm Brogdon, Milwaukee Bucks (18 points, 3 first-place votes)

2. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers (17 points, 5 first-place votes)

3. Dario Saric, Philadelphia 76ers (9 points)

Others Receiving Votes: Willy Hernangomez, New York Knicks (2 points); Rodney McGruder, Miami Heat (1 point); Yogi Ferrell, Dallas Mavericks (1 point)

The closeness continues with another award for which there’s really no wrong answer.

Do you value Malcolm Brogdon’s steadiness throughout the year, since that’s what allowed him to overcome his second-round status and emerge as a key two-way figure for the Milwaukee Bucks? Are you sold by the level Dario Saric reached by the end of the year, even if he struggled immensely during the opening salvo? Can Joel Embiid win Rookie of the Year by dominating for 31 games and missing the rest of the campaign?

There was no consensus here. Perhaps there would’ve been if Embiid had logged even 32 appearances.

1. James Johnson, Miami Heat (15 points, 4 first-place votes)

2. Andre Iguodala, Golden State Warriors (10 points, 1 first-place vote)

3. Lou Williams, Houston Rockets (9 points)

Others Receiving Votes: Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets (8 points); Tyler Johnson, Miami Heat (3 points); Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies (2 points); Joe Ingles, Utah Jazz (1 point)

Kudos to the NBA Math team for not being swayed entirely toward the high-scoring seductive powers of Lou Williams and Eric Gordon. Both members of the Houston Rockets bench were fantastic offensive presences throughout the 2016-17 campaign (though shooting regression hurt them after the All-Star break), but their overall values lagged behind those of some second-unit counterparts.

James Johnson, who blossomed with the Miami Heat once head coach Erik Spoelstra allowed him to handle the rock and operate as a facilitator within the drive-and-kick offense, was the most popular choice, but he didn’t earn too much separation between himself and Andre Iguodala. Even as the Golden State Warriors sparkplug succumbs to Father Time, he’s been able to invigorate the team with his versatility and seamless fit within the small-ball stylings.

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks (24 points, 8 first-place votes)

2. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets (9 points)

3. Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers (4 points)

Others Receiving Votes: Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards (3 points); Otto Porter Jr., Washington Wizards (2 points); Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz (2 points); Isaiah Thomas, Boston Celtics (1 point); James Johnson, Miami Heat (1 point); Julius Randle, Los Angeles Lakers (1 point); Tim Hardaway Jr., Atlanta Hawks (1 point)

In lieu of waxing poetic about these candidates, let’s take a peek at how everyone who received at least two voting points fared in NBA Math’s total points added during both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons:

It seems Giannis Antetokounmpo’s clean sweep was well deserved.

1. Erik Spoelstra, Miami Heat (17 points, 4 first-place votes)

2. Mike D’Antoni, Houston Rockets (15 points, 1 first-place vote)

3. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs (9 points, 2 first-place votes)

Others Receiving Votes: Brad Stevens, Boston Celtics (5 points, 1 first-place vote); Quin Snyder, Utah Jazz (2 points)

Remember when the Miami Heat were tracking toward a finish near the bottom of the Eastern Conference? So much for that. Head coach Erik Spoelstra steered them into playoff contention, figuring out that he should supplement Goran Dragic’s driving offense with more attacks from Dion Waiters and James Johnson.

Of course, we can’t discount the system Mike D’Antoni developed around James Harden and the Houston Rockets. Nor can we look past Gregg Popovich, who has a case for Coach of the Year each and every season.

1. Bob Myers, Golden State Warriors (15 points, 4 first-place votes)

2. Daryl Morey, Houston Rockets (13 points, 2 first-place votes)

3. Dennis Lindsey, Utah Jazz (5 points)

Others Receiving Votes: David Griffin, Cleveland Cavaliers (4 points, 1 first-place vote); Danny Ainge, Boston Celtics (3 points); Masai Ujiri, Toronto Raptors (3 points); Sam Hinkie, formerly of the Philadelphia 76ers (3 points, 1 first-place vote); R.C. Buford, San Antonio Spurs (2 points)

Acquiring Kevin Durant without blowing up the Golden State Warriors core? Successfully implementing your vision—all threes and free throws—by building around James Harden and putting the right complementary pieces in place? Sticking with a nucleus that’s been carefully assembled over the years and then refusing to succumb to injury-created pressures to blow it up?

There’s an argument for each of the top three finishers in Executive of the Year voting. Frankly, that statement should apply to many of the men populating the honorable mentions, as well.

First Team: James Harden, Houston Rockets (24 points); Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder (24 points); Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs (24 points); LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers (24 points); Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz (20 points)

Second Team: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors (16 points); Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers (10 points); Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks (16 points); Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls (13 points); Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans (13 points)

Third Team: John Wall, Washington Wizards (10 points); Isaiah Thomas, Boston Celtics (8 points); Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors (8 points); Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors (7 points); Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets (9 points)

Others Receiving Votes: DeMarcus Cousins, New Orleans Pelicans (4 points); Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors (4 points); Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz (3 points); Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves (2 points); Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies (1 point)

First Team: Andre Roberson, Oklahoma City Thunder (11 points); Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers (8 points); Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors (16 points); Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs (11 points); Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz (16 points)

Second Team: Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies (7 points); Patrick Beverley, Houston Rockets (6 points); Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks (7 points); Robert Covington, Philadelphia 76ers (4 points); Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans (4 points)

Others Receiving Votes: Danny Green, San Antonio Spurs (5 points); Thabo Sefolosha, Atlanta Hawks (4 points); DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers (2 points); Dwight Howard, Atlanta Hawks (2 points); Hassan Whiteside, Miami Heat (2 points); Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls (2 points); John Wall, Washington Wizards (2 points); Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors (2 points); Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics (2 points); Al-Farouq Aminu, Portland Trail Blazers (1 point); Dewayne Dedmon, San Antonio Spurs (1 point); Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers (1 point); Jrue Holiday, New Orleans Pelicans (1 point); Kyle Anderson, San Antonio Spurs (1 point); Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs (1 point); Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks (1 point)

First Team: Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers (16 points); Malcolm Brogdon, Milwaukee Bucks (16 points); Dario Saric, Philadelphia 76ers (14 points); Willy Hernangomez, New York Knicks (11 points); Buddy Hield, New Orleans Pelicans (10 points)

Second Team: Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets (10 points); Yogi Ferrell, Dallas Mavericks (9 points); Rodney McGruder, Miami Heat (8 points); Marquese Chriss, Phoenix Suns (5 points); Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics (4 points)

Others Receiving Votes: Davis Bertans, San Antonio Spurs (4 points); Brandon Ingram, Los Angeles Lakers (3 points); Juancho Hernangomez, Denver Nuggets (2 points); Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors (2 points); Caris LeVert, Brooklyn Nets (1 point); Kris Dunn, Minnesota Timberwolves (1 point); Alex Abrines, Oklahoma City Thunder (1 point); Dorian Finney-Smith, Dallas Mavericks (1 point); Tyler Ulis, Phoenix Suns (1 point); Domantas Sabonis, Oklahoma City Thunder (1 point)

One thought on “NBA Math’s Staff Award Picks for 2016-17”

  1. Giulian Trabucco says:

    Chris Paul on the All-NBA second team over John Wall is insulting. I didn’t realize player names were a metric you guys used in your evaluations

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