Philadelphia 76ers: 2019-20 NBA award predictions

Joel Embiid | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Joel Embiid | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

Christopher Kline

  • MVP — Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
  • Defensive Player of the Year — Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
  • Sixth Man of the Year — Lou Williams, Los Angeles Clippers
  • Most Improved Player — Lonzo Ball, New Orleans Pelicans
  • Rookie of the Year — Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans
  • Coach of the Year — Mike Malone, Denver Nuggets
  • 1st Team All-NBA 
    • Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
    • James Harden, Houston Rockets
    • LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
    • Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
    • Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
  • 2nd Team All-NBA
    • Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
    • Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets
    • Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers
    • Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers
    • Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
  • 3rd Team All-NBA
    • Russell Westbrook, Houston Rockets
    • Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz
    • Blake Griffin, Detroit Pistons
    • Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers
    • Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
  • 1st Team All-Defense
    • Dejounte Murray, San Antonio Spurs
    • Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics
    • Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
    • Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
    • Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
  • 2nd Team All-Defense
    • Lonzo Ball, New Orleans Pelicans
    • Jrue Holiday, New Orleans Pelicans
    • Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers
    • Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers
    • Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
  • 1st Team All-Rookie
    • Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies
    • Jarrett Culver, Minnesota Timberwolves
    • R.J. Barrett, New York Knicks
    • De’Andre Hunter, Atlanta Hawks
    • Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans
  • 2nd Team All-Rookie
    • Coby White, Chicago Bulls
    • Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers
    • Kevin Porter Jr., Cleveland Cavaliers
    • Grant Williams, Boston Celtics
    • Brandon Clarke, Memphis Grizzlies

Nothing here should generate major backlash. The MVP race has three prohibitive frontrunners in Curry, Harden and Antetokounmpo — all of whom will, barring injury, put up numbers. It’s neck-and-neck in my mind and, once the season rolls around, could be neck-and-neck for real.

What gives Curry the edge is situational. I’m a firm believer that he’s the second best player in basketball. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that Curry usurps LeBron James for the title of best basketball player. His gravity as a shooting threat — not to mention the elite handles, the interior finesse and the passing creativity — is unmatched.

In the absence of Kevin Durant and Klay Thomspon, Curry will have the lion’s share of scoring responsibilities in Golden State. Draymond Green will fill his role as a playmaker and D’Angelo Russell will help ease the burden, but expect Curry to be unleashed in full force for the first time since KD arrived.

Let’s flash back to Curry’s unanimous MVP season. He averaged 30.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 2.1 steals. He also attempted 11.2 three-point attempts per contest, converting at an insane 45.4 percent rate. His .504/.454/.908 shooting splits stand among the best in NBA history.

Curry scores with top-flight efficiency, even in staggering volume. On an injured-ravaged team and with something to prove, expect the top Splash Brother to return to MVP form — to a degree even Antetokounmpo and Harden, both historically great in their own right, can’t match.

As for the other awards, Mike Malone diverges from the consensus a bit at Coach of the Year. The Nuggets have one of the NBA’s deepest benches and finished second in the West last season despite a slew of injuries.

If Denver can stay healthy, Jokic is a fringe MVP talent. The rest of the roster, given the benefit of continuity and a potent offense, could land the Nuggets atop the Western Conference standings. It’s why Jokic, not Embiid, earns my first team All-NBA prediction.

Next. Ranking every player on the Sixers' 2019-20 roster. dark

To round things up: even with Kawhi and PG13, the Clippers will rely heavily on Lou Williams as a shot creator in the “second unit.” He win games and put up points en route to another Sixth Man win. I’m a firm believer in Lonzo Ball and believe his talents will be utilized more effectively in New Orleans. Expect a breakout from the former No. 2 pick.