Basketball season is finally over, officially, as the NBA’s family and friends gather around for one night to celebrate the season that was and honor players, coaches, and executives for their individual performances in 2016-17. The award show was a first for the league. It was held in New York and hosted by rapper and basketball aficionado, Drake.
Aside from end-of-season awards being handed out, the league took some time to honor Craig Sager, who passed away in December 2016 after a battle with leukemia. An award was created in his name, called the Sager Strong Award, which was given to former basketball player, now coaching assistant, Monty Williams, who tragically lost his wife in a car accident.
The highlight of the night came at the very end with the awarding of the Most Valuable Player which was given to Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder. He beat out James Harden of the Houston Rockets and Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs. Westbrook had a phenomenal season, which went down in the record books. He averaged 31.6 ppg, 10.7 rpg, and 10.4 apg. The only other time another player in the league accomplished the feat of averaging a triple-double over the course of a full season was in 1961-62, done by the great Oscar Robertson. Aside from that, Russell had multiple games where he scored a huge amount point aside from doing everything on the court.
The Defensive Player of the Year award was given to Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors. The tenacious forward was able to garner more votes than Kawhi Leonard (Spurs) and Rudy Gobert (Jazz). This is the first time Green has won the award. Aside from being Golden State’s anchor on the defensive end of the floor, Draymond was able to contribute across multiple categories, often times filling up the stat sheet with his commendable performances. In 2016-17 Green averaged 10.2 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 7.0 apg, 2.0 spg, and 1.4 bpg.
The Most Improve Player award went to Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks. The Greek phenom elevated his game to new heights this past season and there was no choice but for people to take notice. At 22 years of age, in his fourth season in the league, Antetokounmpo’s numbers soared across the board, making him a threat on both ends of the floor. He posted averages of 23.2 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 5.5 apg, 1.7 spg, and 1.9 bpg.
Here is a complete list of awards given out that night:
Most Valuable Player: Russell Westbrook
Defensive Player of the Year: Draymond Green
Most Improved Player: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Sixth Man of the Year: Eric Gordon
Coach of the Year: Mike D’Antoni
Rookie of the Year: Malcolm Brogdon
Executive of the Year: Bob Myers
Sager Strong Award: Monty Williams
Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year: Dirk Nowitzki
Lifetime Achievement Award: Bill Russell
Best Style: Russell Westbrook
Assists of the Year: Stephen Curry/Draymond Green
Block of the Year: Kawhi Leonard
Dunk of the Year: Victor Oladipo
Sportsmanship Award: Kemba Walker
Game-Winner of the Year: Russell Westbrook
Performance of the Year: Klay Thompson
Playoff Moment: Kevin Durant