Most Valuable Player – Larry Nance Jr.
This may seem like an odd pick, but frankly, when the team has him, they’re much better. When the team doesn’t have him, they’re much worse. Nance isn’t going to average 25 points and 15 rebounds for an entire year. What he is going to do is average 10 points, 7 assists, 7 rebounds, two steals, and two blocks. Those are far more likely to be his box score numbers. That’s the kind of versatility the NBA is missing and that Cleveland wants. It’s no wonder teams have an interest in him. He redefines the Cavs defense and offense when he’s on the court.
Defensive Player of the Year – Larry Nance Jr.
This was so close, and it could’ve easily have been Jarrett Allen. Right now Nance gets the nod because usually, he’s able to make a huge impact on the defensive front. So much so that before he broke his hand, he was a force on defense. He was leading the league in steals.
Rookie of the Year – Dylan Windler
Isaac Okoro is fine but he’s not making an impact on either side of the ball, yet. While everyone keeps saying he’ll develop into a good player on defense eventually, what they’re not saying is that Okoro isn’t a good player on defense today. He’s not, he’s been bad defensively and that’s what he was drafted for. Only Collin Sexton and Darius Garland grade out as worse defenders. Let’s not talk about his offensive game, because he doesn’t have one. Dylan Windler is playing better defense and shooting better, so he’s the obvious pick. In five years, maybe Okoro is the better overall player, but this isn’t the “What Rookie is Going to be Better in Year Six Award”
Sixth Man – Javale McGee
Part of me wants to give this to Cedi Osman just because he’s the only player off the bench who gets regular minutes, but I’m going to give it to McGee. He’s a flashy and dynamic player, and you gotta wonder what his career would’ve looked like had he had a coach like J.B. Bickerstaff from the start. He’s a difference-maker defensively and a pretty stellar passer from the low post.
Most Improved – Darius Garland
He was the worst player in the NBA last year. While Darius Garland hasn’t lept as high as some in Cleveland think he has, he’s no longer in the bottom of the league, so that’s a start. Offensively he’s nearly out of a negative-net rating, which is super encouraging. Defensively he’s still a tremendous liability.