2013-2014 NBA Awards Watch: Preseason Edition


This is the 2013-2014 preseason edition of HoopsHabit’s NBA Awards Watch. Throughout the season, we will cover the potential winners for each award. Make sure to check back every Monday for the up-to-date projections.

Most Valuable Player

Chris Paul

Paul enters the season as a top candidate for MVP.(NBA.com photo)

 

1. Chris Paul

2. LeBron James

3. Kevin Durant

With his 40 point, 11 assist effort this past weekend against Denver, it’s safe to say Paul is in midseason form already. The Clippers, now coached by Doc Rivers, are one of the favorites to come out of the Western conference, and Paul could be in for the biggest season of his career with more sharpshooters added in the offseason. James is faced with the task of leading Miami back to its fourth straight NBA Finals appearance, something even Michael Jordan never did. Can he capture his third straight MVP award as well? Durant remains one of the game’s most lethal scorers and for the past two years, he’s had to sit back and watch LeBron collect hardware. Is this the year he finally dethrones the King?

Most Improved Player

 

Jonas Valanciunas

He’s primed for a big year if he can stay healthy. (NBA.com photo)

1. Jonas Valanciunas

2. Harrison Barnes

3. Maurice Harkless

Valanciunas now looks the part as an NBA center after putting in some work in the weight room this offseason. He’s more equipped to bang inside with other seven-footers and has the potential to average a near double-double every night. Barnes has the prototypical size to be a top small forward in the league for years to come, flashing his ability in the playoffs last year. In Orlando, Harkless is one of the building blocks for the future and reportedly grew an inch and added close to 15 pounds of muscle to better hold his ground against bigger and stronger players. He’ll get playing time at both wing spots.

Rookie of the Year

Victor Oladipo

Oladipo fits in perfectly on a young, talented roster.

1. Victor Oladipo

2. Ben McLemore

3. Trey Burke

In the preseason thus far, Oladipo has showcased his all-around game and playmaking skills and has fit right in with all of the young talent on the roster. He provides a spark with his defense and energy and it’s clear Orlando has big plans for him this season. McLemore is arguably the most talented player in this year’s draft class and at some point this season overtake Marcus Thornton as a starter. Once he returns from a hand injury, Burke will be thrown into the discussion for ROY because of his ability to score the ball.

Defensive Player of the Year

Dwight Howard

It’s time for D12 to re-capture the title as DPOY. (NBA.com photo)

1. Dwight Howard

2. Marc Gasol

3. LeBron James

Howard is coming off an underachieving season in Los Angeles and he still led the league in rebounding. Now that he is in Houston, he’s happy and he’s healthy again. When he was healthy in Orlando, we have to remember that he won this award for three consecutive years. Gasol winning the award last year was a shock to most but it did make the most sense, as he was an enforcer on the interior for Memphis leading the league with fewest points allowed. LeBron defends positions 1-4 and is seemingly always a lock to finish as a finalist for DPOY.

Sixth Man of the Year

 

J.R. Smith

Chuckers like Smith are always sixth-man candidates. (NBA.com photo)

1. J.R. Smith

2. Klay Thompson

3. Jamal Crawford

Smith was the winner last year (averaged 18.1 points) and with Iman Shumpert starting in New York, it’s likely he will be a finalist to capture it again. With Golden State signing Andre Iguodala, Thompson will now come off the bench as one of the game’s best shooters (40% from the three in two seasons). Crawford, aka “J. Crossover”, does one thing and he does it well: Score (16.5 points). He’ll continue to be a clutch shot-maker in the fourth quarter that Chris Paul can rely on.

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