The Unconventional NBA Awards: Recognizing the Quirkiest and Most Noteworthy Moments of the 2021-22 Season
Fantasy Stud: Nikola Jokic
When it comes to fantasy basketball, one player stood head and shoulders above the rest in the 2021-22 season. Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets proved his worth once again by dominating the stat sheets. As a one-man wrecking crew, Jokic claimed the top spot in numerous categories, including a league-leading 32.94 PER rating. Not only was he a prolific scorer with 27.1 points per game, but he also showcased his versatility as the second-best rebounder (13.8 rebounds per game) and eighth-ranked playmaker (7.9 assists per game) among all players.
Most Overrated Player (MOP): LeBron James
In a surprising turn of events, LeBron James finds himself in the running for OG’s Most Overrated Player (MOP) award. Despite his impressive career and countless accolades, LeBron’s performance this season fell short of expectations. Although he narrowly missed out on a scoring title at the age of 37, his inability to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a playoff berth raises questions about his claim as the greatest of all time. The Lakers struggled throughout the season, ultimately resorting to the play-in tournament to secure a postseason spot.
WTF Guy of the Year: Desmond Bane
Amidst the star-studded lineups of the NBA, a relatively unknown player emerged as a force to be reckoned with. Desmond Bane, the second-leading scorer for the Memphis Grizzlies, defied expectations and left fans and analysts alike wondering, “Who the f–k is Desmond Bane?” The sophomore player, drafted in the late first-round in 2020, vastly improved his performance this season, averaging an impressive 18.2 points per game – a significant jump from his rookie campaign. Bane’s exceptional shooting skills, including an impressive 43.6% accuracy from beyond the arc, greatly contributed to the Grizzlies’ success, propelling them to the second-best record in the NBA.
Aussie Mate of the Year: Josh Giddey
The NBA has always had a soft spot for Australian players, and this year’s standout Australian talent is none other than Josh Giddey from the Oklahoma City Thunder. Despite being criticized by some following his selection as the 6th overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, Giddey quickly silenced his doubters with an impressive rookie campaign. If not for playing on a small-market team, Giddey would have been a strong contender for the Rookie of the Year award. The Thunder’s decision to draft Giddey paid off handsomely, as he averaged 12.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game – remarkable numbers for a teenager. He also etched his name in NBA history as the youngest player to record a triple-double and set another record as the youngest player with back-to-back triple-doubles, both remarkable achievements for a player with such promise. With further improvement, Giddey has the potential to become an NBA All-Star in the near future.
Sniper of the Year: Luke Kennard
When it comes to deadly accuracy from beyond the arc, one player stood out among the rest – Luke Kennard of the LA Clippers. Kennard showcased his shooting prowess by leading the NBA with an impressive 44.9% three-point shooting percentage. A remarkable two-thirds of his total shots for the season came from beyond the arc, highlighting his exceptional shooting skills and his contributions to the success of the Cardiac Clippers. However, it wasn’t just his accuracy that made a difference – Kennard also delivered a memorable clutch performance, sinking a game-winning four-point buzzer-beater that helped secure a comeback victory for the Clippers.
Seventh Man of the Year: Immanuel Quickley
While the spotlight usually shines on the first player off the bench, it’s time to turn our attention to the unsung hero – the second player off the bench, Immanuel Quickley of the New York Knicks. Quickley played a crucial role as the point guard and floor general for the Knicks’ second unit, often outshining the starters with his exceptional playmaking abilities. There were numerous occasions throughout the season where the Knicks’ second unit surpassed the performance of the starters, and Quickley’s contributions were instrumental in these moments. As the season came to a close, Quickley left a lasting impression by recording a 34-point triple-double, showcasing his potential as a future starting point guard for the team.
Top Milestone: Gregg Popovich
While players often steal the spotlight with their individual achievements, we must not overlook the remarkable milestones reached by head coaches. This season, the incomparable Gregg Popovich surpassed Don Nelson’s record for the most victories as a head coach, solidifying his status as one of the greatest coaches in NBA history. Popovich achieved this incredible feat by accumulating 1,355 wins during his tenure with the San Antonio Spurs, a testament to his longevity, consistency, and ability to build successful teams year after year.
Best Trade: CJ McCollum to Pelicans
Every NBA season brings with it a flurry of trades, but one particular