With a plethora of superstars from Kevin Durant to LeBron James and Kobe Bryant and many more, the NBA has more than enough talent to compete for its most prestigious awards. But after predicting the fate of the 2013 NBA season, it is a little bit clearer as to who should take home the trophies.
Here is a complete preview of all six major awards from coach of the year to most valuable player.
Coach of the Year: Doc Rivers, BOS
Doc Rivers has put together an impressive run of playoff appearances and may only have one championship to show for it, but 2013 will be a year that he may lead the Celtics to another deep playoff run (or more).
With a revamped roster that features Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo, the Celtics have the potential to make a championship run and will fend for the two-spot in the eastern conference (behind the Miami Heat).
A 2012 poll of NBA players found Doc Rivers sitting atop the list of coaches “you would like to play for most.” Rivers motivates his guys and maintains the respect of the entire spectrum of rookies to Hall of Famers.
Defensive Player of the Year: Dwight Howard, LAL
Already a three-time defensive player of the year, Dwight Howard should not fall short of a fourth in his first season as a Los Angeles Laker.
Needing a change of scenery (and new faces to surround himself with), Howard chose to partner up with Kobe Bryant in a franchise that is rich in its history of big men, from the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to the most recent dominant force in Shaquille O’Neal.
He averages 13 rebounds and over two blocks a game over the course of his eight-year career. And at 26 years old, he is just now hitting his prime.
Dwight Howard could be the first player since Dennis Rodman in 1997 to get over 16 boards a game.
Most Improved Player of the Year: Avery Bradley, BOS
Avery Bradley has already shown glimpses of a very bright future. At face value, Bradley had a mediocre season, with only 7.6 points and 1.4 assists per game.
But looking a bit deeper, you’ll see his per 36 minutes stats show 12.7 points per game average to go along with 3.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.1 steals per game.
Perhaps most impressively was his performance in the month of April: 15 points per game, more than 50 percent shooting on field goals and three-pointers, six games scoring over 17 points and 28 against the playoff-bound Atlanta Hawks.
Unless his injury limits him to less than 100 percent, Bradley should be a shoo-in for MIP, especially with an MVP-contending point guard running the show.
Sixth Man of the Year: James Harden, OKC
James Harden is capable of becoming the first player since Detlef Schrempf in 1992 to repeat as sixth man of the year. Harden would be a starter on most other teams and probably should be traded for the sake of Oklahoma City’s title hopes but has proven to be an important cog of Oklahoma City’s deep playoff runs.
Harden averaged 17 points per game in 2012—that’s solid for a starter. Even though Harden had a disappointing Finals showing, he should be able to rebound for a second consecutive Sixth Man of the Year Award.
Rookie of the Year: Harrison Barnes, GS
While popular opinion gives the nod for rookie of the year to number one overall draft pick Anthony Davis, Golden State’s used their (lucky?) number seven pick to grab former Tar Heel Harrison Barnes.
Barnes has more than a good shot at winning ROY after the Warriors traded away small forward Dorell Wright, who would have been the starter at the beginning of the season. With Wright gone, the job is Barnes’ to lose.
If Golden State makes the playoffs and Barnes contributes a reasonable amount, he will win it over Davis and the struggling New Orleans Hornets.
Most Valuable Player: LeBron James, MIA
Injury is the only thing between LeBron James and a fourth MVP award.
Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo are among the other viable MVP options but LeBron James is the best player in the league. An unstoppable train, James has proven he can get to the basket at will. Most of the NBA just gets out of the way rather than get wrecked by the 6’8” and 250-pounder.
At 27 years old, James is in the prime—a scary thought considering what the “young” LeBron has already accomplished. The field will have a tough time beating the reigning MVP who has 27.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 6.9 assists, 1.7 steals and nearly a block per game over the course of his career.
This article was originally published on B/R.