All-Star Weekend is fun and all, but that also means 7 days with no NBA games. If you’re having withdrawals, don’t fret, we’re all in this together. Oftentimes “midseason” awards are used to cope with the lack of games, so let’s join the party. But this time, we’ll limit our field to the Thunder.
Most Valuable Player - Russell Westbrook
Funny how things can quickly change. Last year, this was a no brainer, and probably the easiest award to dish out. Fast forward to 2018, and there’s a debate to be had. Yes, Russ is the undeniable leader in terms of numbers. He leads the Thunder in points, assists, and rebounds. Without his energy and output, OKC struggles mightily, and for that reason alone, he’s the MVP thus far. He’s borderline irreplaceable on the current roster.
But arguments can certainly be made for others. Paul George is the best two-way player in the league, and is vital to this team’s defensive performance, especially with the loss of Andre Roberson. Without him, their defense deteriorates immediately.
Steven Adams has become a monster rebounder, specifically on the offensive glass. An argument can certainly be made for him here, but again, it all comes down to what you define “valuable”.
Defensive Player of the Year - Paul George
It’s unfortunate we no longer have the Roberson vs George debate, but it is what it is. Without Dre, this becomes a no brainer. In my opinion, George is the NBA’s defensive player of the year, but maybe I’m just biased.
He currently leads the league in total steals, deflections, and deflections per game. His perimeter presence is undeniable and 100% invaluable.
Most Improved - Steven Adams
His importance to the team has skyrocketed, which alone makes him a front runner for this award. Add his statistical improvements in nearly every category, and we’ve got ourselves a winner. The WTLC community is well aware of my love for the big Kiwi, so I won’t ramble on about how great he is.
But I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out his improved celebrations.
Steven Adams Posterized Jonas Valanciunas then raised the roof after pic.twitter.com/PrRRuiYEk1— Travis Singleton (@SneakerReporter) December 28, 2017
Sixth Man - Raymond Felton / Jerami Grant
This one is tough, and really could’ve gone in any direction. As of late, we’ve seen Alex Abrines’ defensive improvements come to light, but much of this has occurred with him in the starting lineup. Jerami Grant has also given the Thunder very quality minutes off of the bench all season 7.9 PPG and 4.1 RPG. But you can’t ignore Raymond Felton’s consistent energy while inserted into games. So who takes the cake?
I decided to make this choice by focusing on who is most important to the bench unit through the first 2⁄3 of the season. After some debate, I came to the conclusion that Felton and Grant are the two energizer bunnies off the bench. Grant is oftentimes inserted wherever needed, while Felton leads the all-bench squad each night.
My love for Ray Felton will never die, but neither will my love of watching Jerami Grant jump.
Rookie - See Below
Terrance Ferguson. Finish Him! pic.twitter.com/xpjAel7cr9— Up The Thunder (@UpTheThunder) January 20, 2018
Terrance Ferguson turned this game into his own personal slam dunk contest pic.twitter.com/oNGAojVQcT #Lakers #LakerNation #NBA— Marketing Gurus (@MarketingGurus2) January 8, 2018