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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, April 15, 2024

The Step Back: The perfect NBA award predictions

Predicting the NBA’s 2023–24 award winners.

The Step Back

By Michael Wu

We’ve made it y’all. The leaves are turning, Halloween is in the air and NBA basketball is almost back. As we approach tip off on Oct. 24, here are my official awards picks, dark horses and NBA Finals picks. Let’s see how wrong I am in six months.

Rookie of the Year: Chet Holmgren

Standing at 7’1” with an absurd 7’6” wingspan, Holmgren — when healthy — has the tools to not only be an elite defender, but an all-around stud. As I resist every urge in my body to pick Victor Wembanyama here, I believe Holmgren’s stellar supporting cast will propel him to potential NBA stardom in his first official season with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Sixth Man of the Year: Bobby Portis

This is one of the hardest ones to predict, but my gut is telling me Portis will have a career season. Over his nine-year career, Portis has steadily increased his average assists per game, rebounds per game and all around usage, jumping up to 26 minutes per game as opposed to 20 in his first year in Milwaukee. Look for Portis to take another leap in his prime, age 28, as the Bucks compete for a title.

Defensive Player of the Year: Anthony Davis

Davis is a defensive monster. Davis secured 114 blocks in just 56 games played, a statistic where he could’ve easily led the category had he played a full season. Davis’ large frame and consistently dominant defensive rating over his career indicate an inevitable DPOY honor on the horizon. As always, his health is the key to his success.

Most Improved Player: Tyrese Maxey

This is Maxey’s chance to ascend to true stardom. The fourth-year guard was a formidable force even with James Harden in the building, as he averaged over 20 points per game last season, and was the clear second-best player for most of the Philadelphia 76ers’ run in the playoffs. With a disgruntled Harden likely to be traded sooner rather than later, Maxey has a real opportunity to assume the role of the Robin to Joel Embiid’s Batman as the Sixers aim to advance to the conference finals.

Coach of the Year: Mark Daigneault

My team to watch this season: the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Thunder have built something special: a true MVP Candidate, multiple fascinating second options and a deep roster featuring an endless treasure trove of draft capital. Now it’s time to put the pieces together and generate some wins. Mark Daigneault will do just that, guiding the Thunder to their first playoff berth since 2020 and a top five seed in the ultra-competitive West.

MVP: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

This coincides with my COY pick — this is Shai’s year. Last season, Gilgeous-Alexander posted absurd averages throughout the season: 31.4 PPG, 5.5 APG and 4.8 RPG was far and away the best stat line of his career, good enough to finish fifth in MVP voting. All signs point to Gilgeous-Alexander elevating his game to another level this season, culminating in an MVP trophy.

Finals Pick: Celtics over Lakers

Come on, wouldn’t this be fun? While this is no doubt the ultimate homer pick, and likely will come back to bite me in the butt come May, the Boston Celtics have assembled arguably one of the most complete starting lineups in franchise history. If health remains in their favor, I don’t see any team in the East, outside of possibly the Bucks, rivaling this team for a Finals berth. And over the Los Angeles Lakers? That would just be too good. Knowing me though, it’ll be the Minnesota Timberwolves vs the Cleveland Cavaliers.