Mid-Season Awards Check In
June 20, 2022
Is it too early to start talking about awards? Probably. Do I care? No way! We have five big awards to give out, so I’m going to give my top 5 for each award heading into the mid-way point of the season. For the record, I am including both 5v5 and 3v3 in my awards. I lean 5v5 more due to the legacy of the game mode, but 3v3 success still weighs heavily. Some of my rankings are stat-based, some are eye test-based, some are combined. It’s hard to have the same formula across the board. The good news also, if anyone is mad at my rankings, is that we still have half a season to go! Let’s get down to business.
Most Valuable Player:
HM: Gallo, Ria
Go big or go home, let’s start with MVP. When you take everything into account for what an MVP is, whether it’s talent or leadership or production, all roads lead to Bear right now. The best True Shooting(74.3%) of any PG this season, the 2nd highest AST/TO ratio (3.83), all while leading the most efficient offense in the league for the 2nd straight year. The time of putting a lock on Kaii and “letting Bear beat you” is over. Bear is beating everyone right now, on and off the court. He’s the MVP favorite at the halfway mark. Dayfri is an easy MVP candidate too. His 3v3 performance was the stuff of legends and his leadership and defense during Wizards DG’s Turn run was another notch in his hall of fame belt. He’ll be in the mix until the very end.
Dre and Krazy fit in the same boat for me. Two sophomore players putting up incredible, position leading numbers on championship contenders. Excellent players on excellent teams deserve attention and both have been stellar. A big run from either to finish the season could fault them to the top spot. Kaii comes in at #5 because I think he might be the most talented guard in league history. No one truly does what he does on the court. Bear has been more VALUABLE, but Kaii has more TALENT. Gallo and Ria are both putting up freakish seasons, but team success keeps them a notch below our top 5.
Most Improved Player:
Alright, let’s talk about what Most Improved Player means. To me, MIP is the player that made the biggest leap from one season to the next. All this stuff about living up to potential or hitting expectations doesn’t matter to me. If you were bad or average and the next year you are a star, that’s what MIP is to me. No one embodies that more than Krazy. Even if you want to argue that he was decent in Season 4, he has been a superstar in Season 5. No one in the league has made as big of a leap as him. 17-12-6-1-1 on 77.6 TS%. He has 105 assists this year at center. The next highest guy is Slaughter…with 65! He’s the best center in the league right now, that deems him the MIP in my book for now.
Dawsix comes in at #2 with an interesting story. 6th man on T-Wolves Gaming last season, now arguably a top 5 Lock in the league, he’s the definition of a MIP. His 3v3 efforts can’t be ignored, he’s been a two-way monster. If we weren’t seeing a truly great season from Krazy, he’d be my #1. Sawc is very similar to Dawsix. He’s had a great come-up year as a full-time starter with Heat Check Gaming. Him and Dtrick make for a great defensive combo and I’ve enjoyed watching Sawc man the lock position in 3v3 a lot. Kayaus has to be included on some list for his sophomore season, so I’ll toss him in here, he’s been too good not to mention. Jrod is a great example of a role player buying into the system and maximizing his potential. It’s time to officially admit we were all wrong about Jrod.
Defensive Player of the Year:
HM: Dawsix, Gradient, Dtrick. DT
Defensive Player of the Year is a lot like Most Improved, it all comes down to how you define what the DPOY is. For me, it is the most impactful individual defender in the league. Who affects the game the most with their defense? It trends season to season for me, but I really side with high-end defensive Centers this year. Locks are always important, but defensive anchors this year are game changers. The ability to protect the mid-range and paint but also collect rebounds to get out on the break is the most important tool for any great defense.
With that being said, Ria and Dayfri are like two heavyweight boxers duking it out for this award. Ria has the raw stats. 4th in the league in steals per game, 7th in the league in blocks per game, 6th in the league in stocks (total steals and blocks), all for a Jazz Gaming team that is 5th in the league in point differential. My nickname for him this year comes from a very popular 2022 movie, Everything Everywhere All at Once. For Dayfri, it’s another defensive masterpiece of a season. The Wizards DG offense is…average at best so he’s had to go up another level defensively. His communication and leadership along with his aggressive instincts have helped make Season 5 the best version of the Wizards DG defense. 54.7 opp. PPG. Masterpiece. Don’t even get me started on his 3v3 defense. That might end up pushing him over the edge for this award.
Of course, he has help. Our top two locks this year have been Just Awkward and TBShiftay. Awkward is the best on-ball defender our league has to offer. His ability to maneuver around screens and stay in front of quick guards is unparalleled. His raw stats have seen a jump too, he’s now third in the league in on-ball steals. Speaking of raw stats, TBShiftay is having a career year. He is your current steals king at lock, averaging 3.5 a game for a high-paced T-Wolves Gaming team. The Lock vs. Center debate on who is more important will rage on forever, I lean Center this year like I said, so I have Feast at my #5 spot. He’s my eye-test pick this year, he’s having a phenomenal season. Take him off that Gen.G team and the whole thing falls apart. He’s just always lurking, waiting, and the second anything gets past the first line of defense, Feast is right there for the contest and the rebound. All about the fundamentals with him.
Our honorable mention crew features two very good locks and two very good PF pick-and-roll defenders. All four deserve mention. Their teams are elite at defense for a reason and it begins with them.Sheesh, 3.5 paragraphs on DPOY, someone must love defense.
Rookie of the Year:
Rookie of the Year for me isn’t a huge debate. I think all 4 guys ranked 2-5 have been very good role players this year. They play top-end 2K and make their teams better. Period. No shame at all in that, you could even argue that they are all their team’s best player (outside of Djay at 4 because…T-Wolves Gaming). But the Rookie of the Year is OTTR. Here are all the players in the NBA 2K League who are averaging at least 24 points and 8 assists a game: OTTR. Here are all the PGs who average at least 20 ppg and under 3 TOs per game: Splash, Mama Im Dat Man…and, you guessed it, OTTR. He has the 3rd highest Points Per Possession of any PG in the league all while putting up the 2nd highest usage rate. He’s a star and just like our previous two ROY winners, he’s going to lead his team to the playoffs as their best player.
I’m going to clump our next two guys together because they sit in the same spot for me. Zayy and Dtrick are terrific defensive players, true impact guys who have lived up to their 1st round pick billing. Dtrick is actually 3rd in the league in Stocks (total steals and blocks), very impressive for a rookie as the primary PnR defender. Same thing for Zayy, excellent on-ball lock and one of the better rookies at transition offense we’ve had. He’s been everything our pre-draft scouting report said on him and he still has a ton of room to grow. Djay is already one of my personal favorite players in the league. The guy is money out of the corner, a defensive wizard and has a blast every game. Vibes are important and he brings it constantly. Unguardable is an…interesting case. He’s got the talent, but his focus during games varies wildly. Growing pains for sure, but I think he’ll be better as a sophomore than he was a rookie..
Coach of the Year:
1. Nick Gartrelle
2. Jeff Terrell
5. Lance Sessions
HM: Famous, Lang Whitaker, Len Griffey
I want to go on record and say that Coach of the Year is my least favorite award. Has nothing to do with the coaches either. I just find that the discussion around the award to be arbitrary. It’s all narrative based and pretty rarely deals with fact. Does a coach get more love for leading an unsuspecting team to success or should you give it to the coach that helped his roster live up to their potential? Do total wins matter or only how many wins they should’ve had based on preseason projections? Do preseason projects even matter? What about the amount of rookies on a single team? Does that matter? It’s all so random, so I’m going to stick with my gut on these picks.
I have Nick #1 because the T-Wolves Gaming team has been the best overall team this year. Record-wise, stat-wise, they have been the best. Jeff at #2 since 76ers GC has been the 2nd best team this year overall with two tournament finals and one win. Pcross #3 since the Wiz have been..well you get the point. They’ve been the top three coaches in the league this year, you can organize it as you please. Nacho and Lance are putting up two of the best rookie HC seasons of all time. The Lakers Gaming turnaround is the stuff of absolute legends and Nacho deserves immense credit for getting the most out of Krazy while helping keep Regg’s head on straight through some very challenging losses. Lance is in the same boat. Very young team, unproven guys, and he has gotten every ounce of potential out of them. Very excited to see how these coaches finish the season.
That’s it for awards! If you have a differing opinion, let me know on twitter @sportstein. Awards are almost entirely opinion based so if you think differently, that’s the point! I didn’t want to get into All 1st & 2nd teams, since we should really wait until the end of the year for those, but you can probably piece together most of my two teams from these awards. Long way to go still!