The 2019 NBA Awards were announced on Monday in the U.S. and it appears that international players took center .stage on this prestigious night.
Most Valuable Player
Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, nicknamed the “Greek Freak” for his freaky athleticism and amazing basketball talent took home the Most Valuable Player Award. He beat out Houston’s James Harden and Oklahoma City’s Paul George to take home the most coveted piece of hardware for the evening. Antetokounmpo received 78 out of a possible 101 votes for first place, while Harden received 23.
It’s a well-deserved first MVP trophy for Giannis, who led the Bucks to an NBA-best 60 win season. He put up a stellar showing in the playoffs and should still continue to see more growth as the 24-year-old phenom enters his seventh NBA season in 2019-20. He is also on his way to becoming one of the best European basketball players ever.
Defensive Player of the Year
Frenchman Rudy Gobert, aptly called the “Stifle Tower,” bagged his second straight Defensive Player of the Year. His rim-protecting prowess has been a headache for many teams this past season. Gobert’s presence alone in the paint is enough for opponents to second guess themselves and even alter their shots. He beat out Giannis Antetokounmpo and Paul George for this award.
Most Improved Player
Cameroonian forward, Pascal Siakam of the Toronto Raptors was awarded the Most Improved Player. He saw an across-the-board improvement this season and his emergence as a threat on both ends of the floor went a long way towards the Raptors’ solid run in the regular season as well as their championship win. Expect to see more highlights from him in 2019-20, whether or not Finals MVP decides to stay with the Raptors or not. Siakam still has many years ahead of him and plenty of upsides, but he can already be added to the list of all-time best basketball players from Africa.
Sixth Man of the Year
Lou Williams of the LA Clippers took home his third Sixth Man of the Year award. Only Jamal Crawford has won it thrice as well. Williams joins Kevin McHale and Detlef Schrempf as the only other players to win the award in consecutive seasons.
Rookie of the Year
The prestigious Rookie of the Year award went to none other than the “Slovenian Sensation,” Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks. Luka beat out DeAndre Ayton of the Phoenix Suns and Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks for the trophy.
Doncic was a phenomenal player to watch throughout the season and he showed why he’s a franchise-changing and defining player, thanks to his averages of 20-plus points, 5-plus rebounds and 5-plus assists per game. He and Kristaps Porzingis will surely make the Mavs a must-watch basketball team next season.
Coach of the Year: Mike Budenholzer (Milwaukee Bucks)
Executive of the Year: Jon Horst (Milwaukee Bucks)
Sage Strong Award: Robin Roberts
Lifetime Achievement Award: Magic Johnson and Larry Bird
Teammate of the Year: Mike Conley
NBA Sportsmanship Award: Mike Conley
Hustle Award: Marcus Smart
NBA Moment of the Year Award: Derrick Rose, for his career-high 50-point game on Oct. 31st.