This is week eight of the 2013-14 regular season edition of HoopsHabit’s NBA Awards Watch. Throughout the season, we cover the potential winners for each award. Make sure to check back every Monday for the up-to-date projections.
Most Valuable Player
As the NBA’s leading scorer (28.3 PPG), Durant has led the Thunder to a 17-2 record in the past 19 games and the team looks determined to make a return trip to the NBA Finals. George is ranked seventh in scoring (23.8 PPG) as the Pacers have the best record in the conference. If the season ended today, Aldridge would be averaging a double-double (23.1 PPG, 11.0 RPG) for the first time in his eight-year career with the Blazers. Two monster games for Aldridge this season worth noting — a win against the Thunder (38 points, 13 rebounds, five assists) and a win against the Rockets matched up against Dwight Howard (31 points, 25 rebounds).
Most Improved Player
In his fourth year, Bledsoe is averaging almost 11 more points a game than last year so it will be hard for any player to beat him out for the award. He had a strong showing against the Mavericks in a win on Saturday with 25 points, six assists and four rebounds. After missing seven games due to hand injury, “The Unibrow” made his return against the Clippers with 24 points, 12 rebounds and three steals. Very few players, like George, have made the jump to superstar status in less than one full year, where he is now averaging over six more points than last year as one of the great two-way players in the league.
Rookie of the Year
MCW had missed seven straight games but returned for the past two, posting back to back double-doubles against the Nets (15 points, 10 assists) and the Bucks (19 points, 12 assists). Oladipo scored single digits in two of the three games this week and against the Kings on Saturday, played in only 21 minutes — his second-lowest minute total of the season. Burke is right behind Oladipo in the scoring department (13.2 PPG) but his performance has been a bit inconsistent, to say the least. Burke’s past four games — three points against the Heat, 30 against the Magic, two against the Hawks and 20 against the Bobcats.
Sixth Man of the Year
Crawford, a.k.a. Instant Offense, plays a crucial role for the Clippers as the team’s third scorer (16.5 PPG) behind Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. With Kobe Bryant now out for six weeks, Young’s role will increase. As a sixth man, he’s been productive, averaging 21.5 PPG over the last four games, bringing his total to 15.4 for the season. Meanwhile in Detroit, Stuckey averages 14.9 PPG as their third-leading scorer.
Defensive Player of the Year
Davis is the do-it-all guy for the Pelicans, leading the league in blocks (3.3 a game) and also averages 1.2 steals per game. Hibbert is a disruptive presence for opposing teams to score against inside, as teams with bigs that can step out and shoot are the teams who have the best shot at defeating the Pacers (ala the Heat and Chris Bosh). Ibaka’s aggression and level of physicality, along with his strength and length on the defensive side of the floor have helped the Thunder rank first in team rebounding and ninth in points allowed.