Around the NBA: Picks for NBA awards _ and league champion
The Associated Press
Apr. 13, 2015
The final days of the NBA regular season have arrived with a few things still to be decided, such as a scoring champion and exactly who gets what seed in the respective brackets.
When the final whistle of the regular season blows late Wednesday night, it'll be time for two new seasons — the postseason, and awards season.
Here, we're about to tackle both.
AP Basketball Writers — Antonio Gonzalez, Jon Krawczynski, Brian Mahoney and Tim Reynolds — share their unofficial picks for several end-of-season awards. And at this time of year, you can't talk about awards without making a prediction for the NBA Finals.
First, there are still some things to watch this week.
All but two teams will be in action Wednesday night as the season concludes, and the first-round playoff schedule will likely come out late that evening. Then on Saturday, the second season gets underway with the first batch of Game 1 matchups.
Now, drum roll please, the picks:
Gonzalez — Stephen Curry, Warriors. The engine powering the NBA's top team all season.
Krawczynski — Stephen Curry, Warriors. James Harden has been phenomenal, but Curry's on-off splits are crazy.
Mahoney — Stephen Curry, Warriors. Record-setting year for Warriors gives him slight edge over James Harden.
Reynolds — Stephen Curry, Warriors. LeBron James is still the best player on Earth, but Curry is the MVP.
Most Improved Player
Gonzalez — Jimmy Butler, Bulls. First-time All-Star has kept Chicago steady without Derrick Rose.
Krawczynski — Hassan Whiteside, Heat. The guy everyone gave up on is now the guy everyone wishes they had.
Mahoney — James Harden, Rockets. One-time, one-dimensional player does it all now as game's best 2-guard.
Reynolds — Klay Thompson, Warriors. Going from good to great is one thing. From great to superb, that's hard.
Rookie of the Year
Gonzalez — Andrew Wiggins, Timberwolves. Rising star. Not his fault he plays for Minnesota.
Krawczynski — Andrew Wiggins, Timberwolves. By far, the most consistently superb rookie of the class.
Mahoney — Andrew Wiggins, Timberwolves. Easily the best of an underwhelming class.
Reynolds — Andrew Wiggins, Timberwolves. Just wait until this kid learns how to shoot.
Defensive Player of the Year
Gonzalez — Draymond Green, Warriors. The best and most versatile defender on the NBA's best defense.
Krawczynski — Draymond Green, Warriors. The straw that stirs the drink for the league's best defense.
Mahoney — Kawhi Leonard, Spurs. Champs went from decent to dominant when he got healthy.
Reynolds — Kawhi Leonard, Spurs. Has the skill the truly great ones have — he can make his matchup disappear.
Sixth Man of the Year
Gonzalez — Lou Williams, Raptors. Exceeded all expectations for a sometimes-inconsistent team.
Krawczynski — Tristan Thompson, Cavaliers. Brings toughness and defense to the second unit.
Mahoney — Isaiah Thomas, Celtics. Might have helped Suns get in. Might help Celtics do it instead.
Reynolds — Jamal Crawford, Clippers. A very tough call here over Isaiah Thomas. Very tough.
Coach of the Year
Gonzalez — Steve Kerr, Warriors. Won over players after Mark Jackson's messy firing, and has kept winning.
Krawczynski — Mike Budenholzer, Hawks. Turned a no-name team into the Spurs of the East. No higher compliment.
Mahoney — Steve Kerr, Warriors. Already won Decision of the Year by taking Warriors over Knicks job.
Reynolds — Mike Budenholzer, Hawks. People thought the Warriors would be good. Who expected this from Atlanta?
NBA Finals Prediction
Gonzalez — Warriors over Cavaliers. LeBron's individual brilliance outdone by a superior team again.
Krawczynski — Spurs over Cavaliers. Spurs have the experience to beat King James and his untested wing men.
Mahoney — Warriors over Cavaliers. Never got LeBron-Kobe, but LeBron-Curry would be fun.
Reynolds — Spurs over Cavaliers. The only thing the Spurs haven't done is go back-to-back. They will now.