Utah Jazz

Toronto Raptors v Atlanta Hawks

Lou Williams wins Sixth Man of the Year

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Isaiah Thomas, Jamal Crawford and Lou Williams were the only eligible players to average at least 15 points per game.

Unsurprisingly, they filled the top three of Sixth Man of the Year voting.

But it was Williams, who ranked third with 15.5 points per game, who took the award.

Here’s the full voting with player, team (first-place votes, second-place votes, third-place votes, points):

1. Lou Williams, Toronto (78-34-10-502)

2. Isaiah Thomas, Boston (33-46-21-324)

3. Jamal Crawford, L.A. Clippers (8-18-37-131)

4. Andre Iguodala, Golden State (7-16-17-100)

5. Tristan Thompson, Cleveland (0-6-15-33)

6. Nikola Mirotic, Chicago (1-4-7-24)

7. Marreese Speights, Golden State (1-2-9-20)

9. Corey Brewer, Houston (1-1-4-12)

9. Manu Ginobili, San Antonio (0-3-3-12)

10. Taj Gibson, Chicago (1-0-3-8)

11. Aaron Brooks, Chicago (0-0-1-1)

11. Chris Kaman, Portland (0-0-1-1)

11. Anthony Morrow, Oklahoma City (0-0-1-1)

11. Dennis Schröder, Atlanta (0-0-1-1)

Williams was a strong candidate, and three of the four of us put him on our hypothetical ballots, including Kurt Helin slotting him at the top. Williams often took over the Raptors’ offense, especially late in games and quarters, and made plays. He wasn’t the most efficient, but Toronto often didn’t put him in position to be.

From top to bottom of this list, there are no egregious choices. I’d have a tough time ranking some of these players a top-three reserve this season, but at least they’re all pretty good and in a reasonable order.

That said, am I the only one who would have voted for Rudy Gobert, even if it’s just on a technicality?

PBT Awards: All-Defensive team

San Antonio Spurs v Golden State Warriors
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Though none of us have a ballot for the NBA’s official awards, we’ll be presenting our choices and making our cases this week for each major honor.

Kurt Helin

First Team

  • G: Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
  • G: Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies
  • F: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
  • F: Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
  • C: Andrew Bogut, Golden State Warriors

Second Team

  • G: John Wall, Washington Wizards
  • G: Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls
  • F: Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
  • F: Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
  • C: Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

There are some quality defenders left off this list, with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at the top of it. The first group is one that could play a Warriors-style switching defense. The second team would block a lot of shots.

Brett Pollakoff

First team

  • G: Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls
  • G: Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
  • F: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
  • F: Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
  • C: Andrew Bogut, Golden State Warriors

Second Team

  • G: John Wall, Washington Wizards
  • G: Danny Green, San Antonio Spurs
  • F: Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
  • F: Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies
  • C: Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

Draymond Green got my Defensive Player of the Year vote, but that was for his overall impact on a Warriors team that finished the year ranked No. 1 in defensive efficiency. Ask any player in the league if they’d rather be guarded by Green or Anthony Davis, and they’ll tell you Green, almost unanimously, which is why Davis gets the first-team spot.

Sean Highkin

First team

  • G: Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
  • G: John Wall, Washington Wizards
  • F: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
  • F: Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
  • C: Andrew Bogut, Golden State Warriors

Second team

  • G: Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls
  • G: Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies
  • F: Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
  • F: Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
  • C: Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

Leonard got my hypothetical Defensive Player of the Year vote, and Bogut and Green are the inside/outside anchors of the league’s best defense. Wall’s quickness and CP3’s savvy make them two of the best defensive guards in the game.

Butler kept his effectiveness on the defensive end despite taking on a larger offensive role with the Bulls. Allen and Duncan had typical seasons for them. Davis put his defensive tools together this year to become a dominant player at that end. Gobert is an absolute demon and the best rim protector in the league already, in his second season.

Dan Feldman

First team

  • G: Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies
  • G: John Wall, Washington Wizards
  • F: Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
  • F: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
  • C: Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

Second team

  • G: Danny Green, San Antonio Spurs
  • G: Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
  • F: Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
  • F: Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
  • C: Andrew Bogut, Golden State Warriors

The only tough spot to fill was Davis as the final forward. He’s a good, but overrated, defender. He gets too much credit for what he’s capable of doing rather than what he actually does. But he made more of a defensive impact than Serge Ibaka and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who are better defenders but played less.

Because of positional requirements, some better defenders than players listed – including Nerlens Noel and Marc Gasol – didn’t make the cut. I couldn’t convince myself to count Noel as a forward, but if I had, I would have gone back and forth between him and Davis. I’d lean Davis, though.

PBT Awards: Sixth Man of the Year

Isaiah Thomas; Tyler Hansbrough; Lou Williams
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Though none of us have a ballot for the NBA’s official awards, we’ll be presenting our choices and making our cases this week for each major honor.

Kurt Helin

1. Lou Williams, Toronto Raptors

2. Andre Iguodala, Golden State Warriors

3. Isaiah Thomas, Boston Celtics

It was a very different year, with the usual suspects — your Jamal Crawfords, your Manu Ginobilis — not being up to form. Lou Williams was a classic sixth man for Toronto, coming in off the bench as an unrepentant gunner. But the man put up points. Not efficiently, but he put up points. Andre Iguodala willingly came off the bench and led the best second unit in the game, but Williams meant more to Toronto.

Brett Pollakoff

Sixth Man of the Year

1. Isaiah Thomas, Boston Celtics

2. Lou Williams, Toronto Raptors

3. Marreese Speights, Golden State Warriors

There’s an argument to be made for Williams here, simply for the fact that his similar numbers to Thomas have been delivered for the Raptors all season long. While Thomas was fine as a reserve in Phoenix before being traded to Boston at the deadline, his impact with the Celtics was a big reason they made the playoffs, so he gets the nod for his performance over the second half of the season.

Sean Highkin

1. Andre Iguodala, Golden State Warriors

2. Isaiah Thomas, Boston Celtics

3. Corey Brewer, Houston Rockets

Iguodala made a big-time sacrifice for the Warriors by accepting a bench role after being a starter most of his career. It turned out to be a perfect fit, not only boosting Harrison Barnes’ productivity by moving him into a starter’s role but giving Golden State a unique weapon in the second unit as a defensive stopper who can score in transition.

Thomas was signed by the Suns to be a sixth man, but it was an awkward fit with ball-dominant point guards Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic. But a mid-season trade to Boston proved to be the actualization of what the Suns had hoped to get from him. He gave the Celtics a clear go-to scorer and late-game closer. They wouldn’t have made their late playoff push without him.

Brewer has been similarly transformative for the Rockets since his trade from the Timberwolves during the season.

Dan Feldman

1. Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

2. Isaiah Thomas, Boston Celtics

3. Lou Williams, Toronto Raptors

I’m a letter-of-the-law guy on this, and Gobert met the only criterion for this award – coming off the bench in more games than starting. He far and away had the best season among eligible players, so he gets my vote, even if he did most of his damage once he became a starter.

Thomas and Williams were close, but Thomas got the edge because was more of a catalyst for his team’s offense than Williams was. Both the Raptors and Celtics frequently ran their offenses through their backup point guards, but Williams usually had more of a capable supporting cast on the floor. Thomas was the clear driving force for Boston, especially in crunch time.

PBT Awards: Defensive Player of the Year

Draymond Green
16 Comments

Though none of us have a ballot for the NBA’s official awards, we’ll be presenting our choices and making our cases this week for each major honor.

Kurt Helin

1. Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors

2. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs

3. Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

If Kawhi Leonard had been healthy all season this award would have been his. That said, do not discount what Draymond Green does — the Warriors had the best defense in the NBA and did it with a system that switches everything. That only works because of Green’s versatility. He can guard spots 1-4, even some centers, which allows the entire Warriors scheme to function smoothly.

Very hard to leave Andrew Bogut off this list, he could be in the three spot easily.

Brett Pollakoff

1. Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors

2. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs

3. Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

Much like the MVP award, this one comes down to how you want to define it. Leonard is the game’s best individual defender at the moment, so you could easily justify giving him this vote. But Green’s impact has been huge, and the Warriors will finish the season ranked No. 1 in defensive efficiency.

Sean Highkin

1. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs

2. Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors

3. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs

When Leonard got healthy, the Spurs started to look like the Spurs again, and that’s scary for everybody. Green has been the most important part of the Warriors’ success outside of Stephen Curry, and that’s in large part because of his defensive impact. He can guard all five positions and keeps their defense suffocating even when Andrew Bogut is off the floor. Duncan needs no explanation — at 38, he’s still as effective on the defensive end as he’s ever been.

Dan Feldman

1. Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors

2. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs

3. Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

Green deserves this award this year, but I don’t think he’s the NBA’s best defender. That’d be Gobert, Leonard or Andrew Bogut. But none of those three — Gobert due to coming off the bench, Leonard and Bogut due to injury — played nearly as much as Green, and that meant Green impacted far more defensive possessions. He should be rewarded for that.

Leonard emerged as clear favorite for next year, though.

PBT Awards: All-Rookie team

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23 Comments

Though none of us have a ballot for the NBA’s official awards, we’ll be presenting our choices and making our cases this week for each major honor.

Kurt Helin

First team

  • Elfrid Payton, Orlando Magic
  • Jordan Clarkson, Los Angeles Lakers
  • Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Nikola Mirotic, Chicago Bulls
  • Nerlens Noel, Philadelphia 76ers

Second Team

  • Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics
  • Zach LaVine, Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Bojan Bogdanovic, Brooklyn Nets
  • K.J. McDaniels, Houston Rockets
  • Jusuf Nurkic, Denver Nuggets

If you’re asking why Clarkson on the first team instead of Smart, look at the numbers. Clarkson has a higher true shooting percentage (.528 to .492) while using a higher percentage of the offense. Clarkson turns the ball over a lower percentage of possessions, hits his free throws, and looks like a future starter. Smart is the better defender (by a lot) and shoots the three ball a little better, but I like Clarkson as a future NBA starting point guard.

Brett Pollakoff

First team

  • Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Nikola Mirotic, Chicago Bulls
  • Nerlens Noel, Philadelphia 76ers
  • Elfrid Payton, Orlando Magic
  • Jordan Clarkson, Los Angeles Lakers

Second team

  • Jusuf Nurkic, Denver Nuggets
  • Tarik Black, Los Angeles Lakers
  • Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics
  • Bojan Bogdanovic, Brooklyn Nets
  • Zach LaVine, Minnesota Timberwolves

The first four names on the first team seem like fairly obvious choices, but then it gets murky pretty fast. Clarkson makes it based on being second among all rookies in PER — and because none of the second-team guys had a compelling enough season in total to take his spot.

Sean Highkin

First team

  • Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Elfrid Payton, Orlando Magic
  • Nikola Mirotic, Chicago Bulls
  • Nerlens Noel, Philadelphia 76ers
  • Marcus Smart, Boson Celtics

Second team

  • Jordan Clarkson, Los Angeles Lakers
  • Jusuf Nurkic, Denver Nuggets
  • Zach LaVine, Minnesota Timberwolves
  • K.J. McDaniels, Houston Rockets
  • Bojan Bogdanovic, Brooklyn Nets

Wiggins is going to run away with Rookie of the Year, and he deserves it. Other than him, three rookies set themselves apart by showing star potential: Mirotic, Noel and Payton. Smart would be in their category if he hadn’t missed so much time, but he still gets the nod for his tremendous defensive potential and better-than-expected shooting, playing a major role on a surprise playoff team.

There’s not a very high bar to clear to make second-team All-Rookie — you basically have to stay healthy and not be a complete embarrassment. Clarkson was the only bright spot for the worst Lakers season ever. We still don’t know what position LaVine is, but he won the dunk contest, so that’s cool. Nurkic is a legitimate piece for the Nuggets. McDaniels has barely played in Houston, but he was fun in Philadelphia. Bogdanovic slipped in the second half of the season, but his hot first half is enough to get him on here.

Dan Feldman

First team

  • Nikola Mirotic, Chicago Bulls
  • Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Elfrid Payton, Orlando Magic
  • Nerlens Noel, Philadelphia 76ers
  • Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics

Second team

  • Jordan Clarkson, Los Angeles Lakers
  • Jusuf Nurkic, Denver Nuggets
  • Bojan Bogdanovic, Brooklyn Nets
  • Rodney Hood, Utah Jazz
  • Tarik Black, Los Angeles Lakers

The top four players on my first team were easy calls. The last spot came down to Smart and Clarkson, and I really could go either way. Smart’s defense gave him the slight edge. Clarkson filled in admirably as a starting point guard, because the Lakers needed one. Smart would have provided impactful defense in any situation.

After Clarkson, the second team was difficult to fill out. Finding 10 players deserving of All-Rookie, rarely an easy task, was especially challenging this year, when so many key rookies spent only a partial season playing. How do you rate the many candidates who were only a tick above replacement level but played two to three times as much as Jabari Parker, who was much better when healthy but played just 25 games? Yeah, it was that kind of season where a 25-game-playing Jabari Parker got serious consideration.