Finalists for the 2017 NBA awards were announced Friday night prior to Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals. There are three finalists each for the following awards: Kia NBA Most Valuable Player, Kia NBA Rookie of the Year, Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Kia NBA Sixth Man Award, Kia NBA Most Improved Player and NBA Coach of the Year. Rapper/entertainer Drake will help reveal the winners when he hosts the first-ever NBA Awards show June 26.
Here is a running list of the award finalists:
Most Improved Player of the Year
Milwaukee PG/F Giannis Antetokounmpo: He became just the fifth player in NBA history to lead his team in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals, joining LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, Scottie Pippen and Dave Cowens. Antetokounmpo has increased his points per game, rebounds, assists, blocks, steals and field goal percentage averages in each of his four seasons.
Denver C Nikola Jokic: Jokic saw significant increases in his scoring average, rebounding, assists and field goal percentage from the past season to this season. Averaged 16.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 57.8 percent shooting while posting six triple-doubles. He was the only player to post averages of 18-11-6 since the start of February.
Utah C Rudy Gobert: Gobert increased his scoring average from 9.1 to 14.0 PPG and averaged a career-high 12.8 rebounds (fourth in NBA) while contesting 14.2 shots per game.
Sixth Man of the Year
Golden State F Andre Iguodala: Iguodala posted his highest player efficiency rating (14.4) in four seasons in Golden State. Iguodala averaged 7.6 points and came off the bench every game this season for the team with the best record in the NBA (67 wins).
Houston G Eric Gordon: Gordon made the fourth-most 3-pointers (246) this season with 206 made off the bench, the most in a season off the bench in the 3-point era (since 1979-80), according to ESPN Stats & Information. The guard averaged 16.3 points per game off the bench, second in the NBA.
Houston G Lou Williams: Williams averaged an NBA-best 17.6 points per game off the bench and made 161 3-pointers off the bench this season. He averaged a career-high 17.5 points.
Defensive Player of the Year
Golden State PF/C Draymond Green: Green led the NBA with a career-high 2.03 steals and was second in defensive real plus-minus (5.03) this season. He was second in defensive win shares (5.4) and second with 3.9 deflections per game. According to NBA.com player-tracking data, Green limited opponents to 44 percent shooting at the rim, behind only Gobert and LaMarcus Aldridge.
San Antonio F Kawhi Leonard: Leonard hopes to join Dwight Howard as the only person to win Defensive Player of the Year honors three years in a row. Leonard was sixth in defensive win shares (4.7) and averaged 1.8 steals and 3.4 deflections per game. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Leonard allowed only 40 isolation points total this season and faced only 43 isolation plays.
Utah C Rudy Gobert: Gobert led the NBA in defensive win shares (6.0), defensive real plus-minus (6.01), blocks (2.6) and field goal percentage allowed at the rim (43.9) while contesting 14.2 shots per game.
Rookie of the Year
Milwaukee G Malcolm Brogdon: Drafted 36th overall in the second round, Brogdon averaged 10.2 points and 4.2 assists. He posted 10 points and five assists in 20 games this season, most among rookies. Brogdon was first among all rookies in steals and assists.
Philadelphia C Joel Embiid: Embiid averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks but was limited to just 31 games due to injury. Embiid’s scoring average was 28.7 PPG on a per-36-minutes basis. The only rookie to average more points per 36 minutes was Wilt Chamberlain (29.2 in 1959-60), according to ESPN Stats & Info.
Philadelphia F Dario Saric: He came on strong in Embiid’s absence, averaging 12.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists. Saric led all rookies with five 20-point, 10-rebound games this season.
Coach of the Year
Houston’s Mike D’Antoni: The Rockets posted the league’s third-best record at 55-27. Under D’Antoni, James Harden posted a historic season and the Rockets made a record 1,181 3-pointers. They also averaged 115.3 points this season.
San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich: Popovich led the Spurs to 60 wins for the second straight season and a 20th consecutive playoff appearance, tying Phil Jackson for most consecutive postseason appearances by a coach in NBA history. The Spurs led the NBA in defensive efficiency for the eight time under Popovich.
Miami’s Erik Spoelstra: He orchestrated an NBA-record turnaround, going from an 11-30 start to a furious 30-11 finish to reach 41-41. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the 19-games-under-.500 start was the biggest gap that a team has rebounded from to reach .500, shattering the previous record of 12 games under. The Heat also became only the second team to post a double-digit win streak during a season despite having no All-Stars play in any of those games, joining the 2007-08 Trail Blazers.
Most Valuable Player
Oklahoma City PG Russell Westbrook: After Kevin Durant moved on to Golden State, Westbrook joined Oscar Robertson as the only players to average a triple-double in a season, finishing with 42 triple-doubles, breaking Robertson’s previous single-season record of 41 in 1961-62. Westbrook led the NBA in total points and was second in total assists, averaging 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists. The Thunder went 33-9 when he recorded a triple-double.
Houston PG James Harden: Harden became the first player to score 2,000 points and assist on 2,000 points in a season in NBA history, creating the most points per game (scored or assisted) in the NBA this season with 56.2. Harden finished first in total assists and second in total points, averaging 29.1 points, 11.2 assists, 8.1 rebounds and 1.5 steals.
San Antonio F Kawhi Leonard: Leonard averaged 25.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals as the Spurs’ leader on offense and defense. According to ESPN Stats & Info, he had the best record and player efficiency rating in head-to-head matchups against the other MVP contenders. He also was the only player in the NBA to rank in the top 10 in points per game (ninth), steals per game (tied for seventh) and deflections per game (tied for eighth).