Feb 24, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans head coach Monty Williams talks with power forward Anthony Davis (23) during the fourth quarter at the Smoothie King Center. The Clippers defeated the Pelicans 123-110. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Awards Watch: Week 18

This is week 18 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

1. Kevin Durant
2. LeBron James
3. Paul George

The return of Russell Westbrook and how he affects Durant’s chances of winning MVP will be watched closely the rest of the season. After losing three straight, Durant has led the Thunder to back-to-back wins, scoring 37 points against the Grizzlies and 28 against the Bobcats. James missed last Sunday’s game against the Bulls but returned as Batman sporting the all-black protective face mask against the Knicks and scored 31 points in the process. George’s Pacers have won five straight and they still have the two and a half game lead over the Heat.

Most Improved Player

1. Anthony Davis
2. Isaiah Thomas
3. Goran Dragic

The main thing to remember: this is award examines a player’s improvement from last season to to this year more than the overall success of the team. As an All-Star in his sophomore year, Davis has showcased his potential as a future MVP candidate, averaging 20.2 PPG, 10.0 RPG, and a league-leading 2.96 BPG (he was at 13.5 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.8 BPG last year). Thomas is averaging 20.5 PPG and 6.4 APG compared to 13.9 PPG and 4.0 APG last year. In Bledsoe’s absence, Dragic has shined as the Suns best player. For the season, he’s putting up 20.6 PPG and 6.1 APG compared to last year’s 14.7 PPG and 7.4 APG.

Rookie of the Year

1. Michael Carter-Williams
2. Victor Oladipo
3. Trey Burke

All three players rank one, two and three in scoring amongst all rookies. With a lack of playmakers around him on the 76ers, MCW has been one of the few bright spots on the team. Oladipo has been making a strong push of late with some dominant performances in the past few weeks. Burke is the Jazz’s top distributor (5.4 APG).

Sixth Man of the Year

1. Jamal Crawford
2. Nick Young
3. Dion Waiters

What do the top sixth man candidates have in common? Injuries. Crawford will miss two or three games with a calf strain but is averaging 19.0 PPG for the Clippers. Young has missed the last three with a knee injury, averaging 16.8 PPG. In Cleveland, Waiters has missed the last seven games but is putting up 14.3 PPG.

Defensive Player of the Year

1. Anthony Davis
2. Paul George
3. Serge Ibaka

It’s scary to think how much better the 20-year-old Davis will be as he matures into his body, and he already leads the league in blocks. George’s presence on the defensive end has garnered recognition throughout the league that he’s a two-way superstar, and the Pacers are the top defensive team because of it. The Thunder are top 10 in rebounding and points allowed – Ibaka has a large part to do with that and ranks second in blocks himself.

Tags: Awards Watch Defensive Player Of The Year Most Improved Player Most Valuable Player NBA Rookie Of The Year Sixth Man Of The Year

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