We don’t have a ballot this season, but we’re posting one anyway.
If arguments ensue, we’re OK with it. Here we present our NBA Awards for 2015-16.
MVP: Stephen Curry, Warriors
This is beyond doubt, dispute or debate. Curry had an insurmountable lead in this race and nobody closed the gap. He closed with a fury, just in case anyone was thinking about trying to catch up.
He led the league in scoring, steals and free-throw percentage, finished 10th in assists and ranked fifth among all guards in rebounding. He also led in true shooting percentage and became only the seventh player in 37 seasons to join the ultra-exclusive 50-40-90 Club (field-goal percentage, 3-point shooting percentage, free-throw percentage). His Player Efficiency Rating (31.56) also was tops in the NBA and the eighth best of all time.
Runner-up: (tie) Kawhi Leonard, Spurs, and Chris Paul, Clippers.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves
Another easy choice, as the 7-footer known as KAT started well and finished superbly. He needed less than a half season to prove he was worthy of being drafted first overall, and he spent the rest of the season proving he deserves All-Star status.
Towns led all rookies in scoring, rebounding and double-doubles (he lapped the field in this category). He shot 54.2 percent overall, 34.1 percent from 3-point distance. He earned his membership into the club of studs.
Runner-up: (tie) Nikola Jokic, Nuggets, and Kristaps Porzingis, Knicks, in that order.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Draymond Green, Warriors
This one is worthy of debate, though not for long, as the argument must end with the fact that Green solidly defends all five positions. Going from Chris Paul to DeAndre Jordan in the span of a minute is every bit as difficult as it sounds.
It doesn’t hurt that Green’s Defensive Real Plus-Minus beat out Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard as the best among the league’s full-time players.
Runner-up: Leonard, Spurs
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER: CJ McCollum, Trail Blazers
As stellar as Damian Lillard is, the surprise team of the league would not have surprised anyone without McCollum surprising everyone.
The first player ever drafted out of Lehigh, in 2013, McCollum spent his rookie season shuttling between doctors and the D-League. After starting only three games last season, McCollum this season slid into the vacancy created with the departure of Wesley Matthews and averaged more points per game than Matthews ever did.
Runner-up: Hassan Whiteside, Heat
SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR: Andre Iguodala, Warriors
This is a surprise insofar as the award often falls victim to ballot laziness, with voters simply checking stats and marking down the player who scored best off the bench. Under such criteria, Iguodala wouldn’t fare well.
But he’s the most important bench player for the best team in the league, a terrific perimeter defender, excellent at delivering whatever the offense needs and occasionally drilling a big shot. He’s essential to championship aspirations.
Runner-up: Will Barton, Nuggets
COACH OF THE YEAR: Steve Kerr, Warriors
Kerr joked that if he wins this award, he’d saw it in two and give the other half to assistant coach Luke Walton. Which actually makes a lot of sense, as the team’s 39-4 record during Walton’s interim tenure is better than its 34-5 record after Kerr’s return in late January after recovering from multiple surgeries.
When a team wins 89 percent of its games, the coaching staff must be rewarded.
Runner-up: Terry Stotts, Trail Blazers.