Photo Credit: risingapple.com
“Hey George, is there any way I can get a ball?” he asked. I told him it was possible, but not definite. We started the tour at the bullpen first where unfortunately no pitchers were having a bullpen session. After the bullpen was out of the question for a ball, batting practice was his best shot.
Photo Credit: newsday.com
Photo Credit: aviewfrommyseat.com
Moments like these are what makes a trip to the ballpark so special. You never know what is going to happen when you walk through the gates to a baseball stadium. As for Jed Lowrie, he may have spent most of his time with the Mets on the injured list, but that one foul ball he hit in batting practice created a lifetime memory for a fan. And it doesn’t get any better than that.
MVP: Damian Lillard
The Portland Trail Blazers had a shaky season. Prior to the bubble, the Blazers were 29-37 and sat 3.5 GB the 8th spot who was led by the Memphis Grizzlies at 32-33. To get into the Playoffs, they had to sit at least one GB the 8th seed in order to get a play in game. They finished as the 8th seed with a 35-39 record. In these 8 games, the Blazers went 6-2 led by Damian Lillard’s 37.6 PPG-4.3 REB-9.7 AST on 50/44/89 splits (68% TS%, 62% eFG%). Lillard finished the season averaging a career high in PPG (30.0), AST (8.0), FG% (46%), 3P% (40%), and eFG% (56%) as well as PER (26.9), TS% (63%) and lead the league in Offensive Win-Shares (10.9). Lillard also ranked 3rd in the NBA in PPP in ISO situation (1.07).
In 2020, the Trail Blazers suffered an injury plague. 14 different players missed a total of 260 games, only Golden State had more with 264 games missed. They have added defensive anchors Robert Covington and Derrick Jones Jr as well as Harry Giles and Enes Kanter. Rodney Hood who missed 45 games due to a torn left tendon, will also be back. If the Blazers manage to stay healthy, watch out for Lillard and company.
Runner Up: Luka Doncic
DPOY: Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis certainly made an impact on the Lakers defense from the moment he got traded this past June 16, 2019. The Lakers in the 2018-19 season ranked 12th in Defensive rating (109.5). With the addition of Davis, the Lakers ranked 3rd in the NBA in defensive rating (106.3) this past year. In the playoffs, with Davis on the floor, the Lakers outscored their opponents by 11.7 PPG. When Davis was on the bench, the Lakers got outscored by 5.7 PPG (+17.4 Net Rating). Opponents shot 38.3% when guarded by AD (2nd in the NBA, Min. 45 GP). On Two pointers, opposing players shot 43% when guarded by AD (4th in the NBA, Min. 45 GP). AD ranked 4th in Defensive Rating (101.8) and 3rd in Defensive Box Plus/Minus (+2.6)
Runner Up: Bam Adebayo
Most Improved Player: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was the centerpiece of a trade that saw Paul George go to the Clippers in a trade that also had Danilo Gallinari and draft picks. Gilgeous-Alexander had the mentorship from one of the greats in Chris Paul, which allowed him to take a step forward, averaging 19 PPG-5 REB-3.3 AST on 47/35/81 splits. Amongst players from the 2018 draft, he ranked 3rd in PPG, 6th in REB, 7th in AST and fifth in steals (1.1 per game). Shai also ranked fifth in oRTG (112.7) and ninth in Net Rating (+3.5). With the departure of Paul to Phoenix, expect Gilgeous-Alexander to take a major step forward.
Runner Up: Andrew Wiggins
Sixth Man of the Year: Dennis Schröder
This fall, the Lakers signed the 2019-20 6MOY Montrezl Harrell and acquired the runner up Dennis Schröder in a trade for Danny Green and the 28th pick (Jaden McDaniels was later selected). Schröder and Harrell ranked one and two in PPG (18.9 and 18.4, respectively). With the loss of Avery Bradley and Danny Green, and the addition of Schröder and Wesley Matthews, Vogel has a variety of guards to choose from including Schröder, Matthews, Kentavious-Caldwell Pope, Alex Caruso, Quinn Cook and Talen Horton-Tucker. Although, this past December 1, Schröder expressed his desire to start “I think I try to move forward, and I think with [Anthony Davis] and LeBron [James], I can be helpful as a starter in the PG position.”
Runner up: Montrezl Harrell
Rookie of the Year: Killian Hayes
When people talk about NBA prospects, 75 percent of the time, they’re looking at high school players or players in the NCAA. While the number one pick Anthony Edwards and the number three pick LaMelo Ball stand out to most writers, I went with a pick under the radar and that’s Killian Hayes. Hayes has been playing professional basketball since he was 16 when he made his debut for Cholet in France. In the Eurocup with ratiopharm Ulm (a team based in Germany) he played 10 games before the season was suspended due to COVID-19. Hayes averaged 13/2/6/2 with 46/39/91 splits. (58% TS%, 54% eFG%), so yes, the safe bet is the name you hear everyday, but don’t be surprised if it’s someone else.
Runner Up: Anthony Edwards
Coach of the Year: Erik Spoelstra
Last season, the Heat acquired Jimmy Butler in a Sign and Trade with the Philadelphia 76ers. This deal, to many, didn’t seem to be an impactful deal given the roster they had around Butler. Against all odds, first time All-Star Bam Adebayo took a significant leap, averaging 15/10/5 on 55% FG% (Only player in NBA history to have these averages in their age 22 season). The Heat finished with the 4th seed and a 44-29 record and made it to the NBA Finals defeating the Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics. They felt short of their fourth NBA title, as the Lakers defeated them 4-2. The Heat let Jae Crowder and Derrick Jones Jr walk and signed Avery Bradley and Moe Harkless. With the 20th pick, the Heat selected Precious Achiuwa, a 6’9 Power Forward from Memphis. They also signed Max Strus as well as Paul Eboua. It seems the Heat have yet to get credit from critics, saying they benefited from the conditions in which the playoffs were being played. Spoelstra and co will prove once again, why they’re one of the better teams in the league.
Runner Up: Terry Stotts
Executive of the Year: Rob Pelinka
Yes, the Executive of the NBA Champions, the Los Angeles Lakers, should win Executive of the Year. You’re probably asking yourself, if they’re the champions, what did they do to get better? The Lakers bench last year ranked 11th in the league in scoring with 39.3 PPG. Pelinka went out and got Dennis Schröder and Montrezl Harrell, who, as previously mentioned, finished first and second in 6MOY. The Lakers also signed veteran Marc Gasol, a champion with playoff experience after letting Dwight Howard walk. Lastly, the Lakers signed Wesley Matthews who shot 36 percent from 3 on 4.4 3PA per game. Javale Mcgee and Danny Green were both traded to the Cavaliers and Oklahoma City Thunder, respectively. Pelinka also re-signed Superstar Anthony Davis to a 5 year $190 million contract.
Runner Up: Daryl Morey