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NBA awards predictions: Mid-season picks for MVP, Rookie of the Year and more

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Milwaukee Bucks
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Our NBA awards predictions are here as the 2022-23 season reaches its midway point. Sportsnaut has tallied top contenders for some of the biggest awards such as NBA MVP. But putting it together in one article for the masses made a ton of sense.

A certain rookie in Orlando continues to do his thing in an eye-opening way. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ front office head pulled off a blockbuster trade ahead of the season. It dramatically changes the landscape of the Eastern Conference.

As for the biggest award in the Association, Nikola Jokic remains in contention to win his third consecutive NBA MVP. But he’s not the favorite at the midway point of the season. Here, we look at our NBA awards predictions for 2022-23.

Related: NBA awards predictions, top MVP candidates

Wilt Chamberlain Trophy (NBA Rookie of the Year)

nba award predictions, nba rookie of the year: paolo banchero
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  • Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic

Despite Orlando finding itself with the third-worst record in the Eastern Conference, this former Duke standout has been brilliant. Banchero has put up 20 points or more in 71% of his games as a rookie. He’s shooting 44% from the field and a decent 31% from three-point range.

In looking at our NBA awards predictions, there’s absolutely no reason to believe the No. 1 pick won’t come away with the hardware. The 6-foot-10 Banchero is averaging 21.2 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists per outing. Those are All-Star numbers.

Another option here is Indiana Pacers stud rookie Bennedict Mathurin. He’s averaging 17.1 points on 42% shooting. However, the Arizona product’s usage (28 minutes per game) is a tad concerning. He’s also Indiana’s third-leading scorer while Banchero is Orlando’s go-to-guy.

  • Other contenders: Bennedict Mathurin

Red Auerbach Trophy (NBA Coach of the Year)

nba award predictions, nba coach of the year: willie green
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  • Willie Green, New Orleans Pelicans

Even with Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram sidelined to injury at times this season, New Orleans finished the first half of its schedule with a 25-16 record. Green has this squad looking like a well-oiled machine and on pace for New Orleans’ first 50-win campaign since Chris Paul was doing his thing in the Bayou some 16 years ago.

Green has the pedigree to lead an up-and-coming team dating back to his days as Steve Kerr’s assistant with the Golden State Warriors. He’s taking full advantage of that right now.

If Green’s Pelicans fall off some in the second half, J.B. Bickerstaff of the Cleveland Cavaliers would make sense. He comes in second in our NBA awards predictions for Coach of the Year with the Cleveland Cavaliers also on pace to win 50 games.

  • Other contenders: J.B. Bickerstaff, Jacque Vaughn, Mike Brown, Joe Mazzulla

Related: Sportsnaut’s NBA power rankings

NBA Executive of the Year

nba award predictions, nba executive of the year: koby altman
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  • Koby Altman, Cleveland Cavaliers

Speaking of the Cavaliers, their acquisition of star guard Donovan Mitchell was the single-most important move of the NBA offseason. Here’s a dude who looks like a legit MVP candidate and jsut dropped 71 points in a game.

It’s also not like the Cavs weren’t a talented team before Mitchell’s arrival. The likes of Jarrett Allen, Darius Garland and Evan Mobley had this squad on the upswing a season ago. The fact that Altman was able to acquire Mitchell without giving up any of those three players is just stunning.

We also have to give credit to a Celtics front office head in Brad Stevens who navigated through the entire Ime Udoka scandal to create sustained success for the defending Eastern Conference champs. Boston finished the first half of its schedule on pace for 58 wins.

  • Other contenders: Brad Stevens, Monte McNair

John Havlicek Trophy (NBA Sixth Man of the Year)

nba award predictions, nba sixth man of the year; russell westbrook
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  • Russell Westbrook, Los Angeles Lakers

Speaking of deserving credit, Westbrook’s willingness to take on a Sixth Man role in Los Angeles pretty much saved his career with the Lakers. That’s not hyperbole. After struggling to open the season, Westbrook started to lead the second unit in the fifth game of the season. The rest is history.

  • Russell Westbrook stats (off the bench): 15.5 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 8.2 APG, 42% shooting

Recently-extended Jordan Poole of the Golden State Warriors is also an option to come away with the hardware. The talented guard is averaging a resounding 26.4 points over the past 18 games. The only issue here is turnovers (3.6 per game). Poole needs to fix that.

  • Other contenders: Jordan Poole, Malcolm Brogdon, Norman Powell

Related: NBA awards predictions, Rookie of the Year

George Mikan Trophy (NBA’s Most Improved Player)

nba award predictions, most improved player: shai gilgeous-alexander
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  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City Thunder

Most will go with Lauri Markkanen of the Utah Jazz in their NBA awards predictions. It makes sense. He’s been brilliant through the first half of the season (24.5 PPG, 8.3 RPG). And in reality, we were leading in that direction.

However, Gilgeous-Alexander’s ascension to elite and All-NBA levels can’t be ignored. He showed star power after Oklahoma City acquired the wing from the Los Angeles Clippers for Paul George back in 2019. But something has clicked even more in 2022-23. SGA is averaging 30.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.6 assists while plaing like an All-NBA defender. That’s just insane stuff right there.

  • Other contenders: Lauri Markkanen, Tyrese Haliburton, Devin Cassell

Hakeem Olajuwon Trophy (NBA Defensive Player of the Year)

nba award predictions, nba defensive player of the year: jaren jackson jr.
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  • Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies

What a brilliant return from injury for this former lottery pick after he missed more than a calendar year ahead of the 2021-22 season. Jackson Jr. averaged a solid 16.3 points to go with 5.8 rebounds and a league-leading 2.3 blocks last season.

The forward has taken his game to a whole new level on defense thus far this season for “Grind City.” He’s averaging an otherworldly 3.3 blocks per game. He boasts a Defensive Rating of 108.3 (11th in the NBA) and a Defensive Plus-Minus of 2.0 (15th). That seems pretty darn good. But it’s the 3.3 blocks per outing that’s eye-opening.

  • Other contenders: Brook Lopez, Nicolas Claxton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Draymond Green

Related: NBA Playoff and championship predictions

NBA awards predictions: Michael Jordan Trophy (NBA MVP)

nba awards predictions: luka doncic
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  • Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks

Nikola Jokic won the NBA MVP last season despite his Nuggets winning just 48 games. On pace for 46 wins throughout the first half of their schedule, there’s no reason to believe this Mavericks star can’t win in 2022-23.

Doncic is in the midst of an historic statistical season that saw him record the league’s first 60-point, 20-rebounds triple-double. He’s registered 50 points or more three times and 40-plus points a total of eight times. Doncic is doing all of this while performing at a great all-around clip.

  • Luke Doncic stats (2022-23): 34.0 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 8.7 APG, 1.6 SPG, 50% shooting, 36% 3-point

If Doncic struggles in the second half or his Mavericks fall of the map, Jayson Tatum and Kevin Durant become options. However, Durant’s current injury is of a concern when looking at NBA awards predictions.

  • Other contenders: Jayson Tatum, Kevin Durant, Donovan Mitchell, Nikola Jokic, Stephen Curry

Last season’s NBA awards winners

  • NBA rookie of the Year: Scottie Barnes, Toronto Raptors
  • NBA Coach of the Year: Monty Williams, Phoenix Suns
  • NBA Executive of the Year: Zach Kleiman, Memphis Grizzlies
  • NBA Sixth Man of the Year: Tyler Herro, Miami Heat
  • NBA’s Most Improved Player: Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies
  • NBA Defensive Player of the Year: Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics
  • NBA MVP: Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets