The 2022 NBA Draft is complete, and free agency is underway. This is the time of the year when roster movement is at an all-time high, and power rankings adjust with it. Free agency started exactly an hour ago as I’m writing this, and some movement has already been made.
Making championship and conference standings predictions right at the beginning of free agency is asking for failure, so I decided on a topic more set in stone. Who will win the major NBA awards during the 2022-23 NBA season?
Some players are long overdue, while others may come out of the shadows. My DPOY feels almost like a lock, while the MVP is more surprising. With the NBA mid-shuffle and teams are garnering more capable rosters, the players below will still manage to dominate the NBA in their respective roles.
Most Valuable Player- Luka Doncic
Jokic and Embiid fans, this is not a shot at your player. In fact, I have the utmost respect for both of these players and their abilities. In all honesty, I am just hopeful for the Mavericks’ franchise and how they will perform as a whole this upcoming season.
The acquisitions of Spencer Dinwiddie and Christian Wood equal the losses of Jalen Brunson and Kristaps Porzingis. Quite honestly, I think the team is significantly better now. Prozingis had some off-the-court issues to match his injuries and Brunson is a pure scorer that doesn’t have a knack for the passing game.
Not to say Brunson is bad in this role, I just believe Dinwiddie is better. He can dish the ball, space the floor, and is a shifty offensive player that can attract the defense to give Doncic more open looks.
Wood is also a better overall player than Prozingis. This may be a heavily debated topic, but although Porzingis is more versatile on offense with his passing and shooting ability, Wood is more physical in the paint that can guard positions 3-5.
The Mavs needed a more traditional big on the floor to keep the defense honest and not rely on the perimeter game. Having the flexibility to run the floor, have a solid post game, and be elite in the pick-and-roll makes the offense that much more deadly.
You may be confused at this point. Why is Tommy harping so much on the supporting cast in an MVP conversation for Luka Doncic? Well, quite frankly, the main reason Doncic hasn’t won is MVP is the team’s success. The Mavs built a team to amplify his game and a team that has a better chance of winning.
Expect a 30 ppg year from Doncic, along with over 7 rebounds and assists. Under Doncic’s lead, Wood and Dinwiddie are going to improve this team, bringing them to heights twice as high as the previous roster ever could.
Defensive Player of the Year- Bam Adebayo
The only thing keeping Adebayo from the DPOY last year was his injuries. Even with his injury holding him to only 56 games played, he still managed to rank 4th in DPOY voting last season.
Speaking of games played, his 56 games is the only player in the top 9 for DPOY votes that played under 60, and the only person even close to him in the top 5 was Rudy Gobert at 66.
If Adebayo had 10 extra games, he would have surely beat Gobert in votes. Last year, he was behind Gobert in points 136 to 128. An 8-point difference, with 10 fewer games played against the three-time DPOY Rudy Gobert? There’s no doubt in my mind that Adebayo is the best defensive center in the NBA.
Adebayo is the best defensive center in the league for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, a 6’9” center locking down the post with guys 5 inches taller than him is already an impressive feat. Then you see him switch onto the perimeter and absolutely clamp the 1 and 2 positions, forcing bad shots, and sprinting down the court for a lob finish. This guy is an absolute monster.
Versatility is the most important aspect of an NBA defender. If you are a well below-average offensive player but you can guard all positions on the floor, you will find valuable minutes on an NBA roster. In a league consisting of Draymond Green, Robert Covington, and Johnathon Isaac, there’s always room for a guy who can do it all from the biggest position on the floor. The three guys listed above are forwards, while Adebayo is a center, making his ability to guard the 1-5 makes him a candidate for the best defender of the 2022-2023 season.
Rookie of the Year- Paolo Banchero
I was a diehard Banchero supporter leading up to the draft, vouching for him as the No. 1 pick to the Magic. He’s a two-way threat with a smooth shooting stroke and playmaking ability from the wing. Standing at 6’10”, he is easily a candidate for the starting PF position on the Magic this upcoming season.
Orlando is mid-rebuild, leaving a lot of room for lower-level guys to perform. A very young roster without a fully defined No. 1 scorer at the moment, Banchero could be the offensive firepower they need. I can see him averaging 18 points on good shooting splits and helping Orlando into the play-in game.
Not only is Banchero the best player in the draft, but he is also in the best team situation. He was an A+ draft pick for the Magic, and barring injury, we could see a new era of playoff basketball in Orlando in the next couple of years.
Sixth Man of the Year- Jordan Poole
Although Poole should be a starter on most NBA rosters, his bench spot on the Warriors behind Curry, Thompson, and Wiggins is not up for debate. Although positionless basketball is on its way, I don’t believe his starts will be enough to take him out of sixth man conversation.
Herro would be my No. 1 pick, but he’s not going to be the sixth man next year. He is an incredible scorer that makes the Heat better when he’s on the floor, which makes him a great piece for the starting roster. Gabe Vincent and Max Strus are his biggest competition, which is a favorable matchup for him.
Poole’s situation is different. The Warriors’ backcourt is the best in the league, and his only chance of starting is on another team. With an offensive bag like Mary Poppins and a personality to boot, he’s going to have media swarming him after every good performance next season.
I see 20 points on the horizon for him, getting similar minutes to the starters. He is going to have a high price tag coming out of next year, especially with that trophy in his resume.
Coach of the Year- Jason Kidd
This is a bit of a controversial pick on my end. Bu tin the end, I need to stick with my guts and stay consistent. If Doncic wins the MVP and this Mavs team steps it up to the next level, they will be a top 3 seed in the west.
This team should win over 55 games, and I am hoping for 60. They will find success, and might even make Doncic’s first Finals appearance.
Kidd doesn’t get a good enough rep as a coach. He has done things for this team that have leaped them from mediocre playoff success to WCF appearances. Not only was his roster shaken up towards the trade deadline, but he managed to work around it and get two starting-caliber point guards valuable minutes.
He turned Brunson into a star when Doncic was out and proved doubters wrong with Dinwiddie. A former all-star caliber player, turned coach, who has a good relationship with players and staff, and knows the game like the back of his hand? That sounds like a future Finals winning coach to me.
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