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Stephen Curry is the obvious MVP, but who else should win NBA awards?

Join Flanns and Zillz on a journey through the ballots for NBA MVP, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, second-team All-Rookie and more!

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The end of 2016 NBA regular season is nigh. So this week we're giving you our award picks! Disagree at your own peril.

Most Valuable Player

1st Place 2nd Place 3rd Place 4th Place 5th Place
Flanns S. Curry K. Durant L. James K. Leonard R. Westbrook
Zillz S. Curry K. Leonard K. Durant L. James C. Paul

ZILLER: Let's not belabor Stephen Curry too much: we both have him as the MVP. But our make-believe ballot order is otherwise different. My case for Kawhi Leonard as No. 2 (and a somewhat justifiable No. 1) is that he's the best player on both ends for a 65-win team, one of the best three-point shooters in the league, and the best defender on one of the best defensive teams ever. You have him behind Curry, Kevin Durant and LeBron James!

FLANNERY: I know! It's crazy, right? I have Leonard just barely behind two of the greatest players of all time having tremendous seasons. So, here's the justification: I thought Durant was crazy good this year and the Cavs basically fell apart whenever LeBron wasn't in the lineup. I think Kawhi Leonard is awesomesauce, but somebody has to be fourth. We're going to have a lot of these semantic arguments here and I can't even really bring myself to make them.

ZILLER: True. I feel like Chris Paul vs. Russell Westbrook is another semantic argument. I felt like I was betraying the one I didn't pick. I'M SORRY, RUSS!

Defensive Player of the Year

1st Place 2nd Place 3rd Place
Flanns K. Leonard D. Green P. Millsap
Zillz K. Leonard D. Green A. Horford

ZILLER: We like different Hawks! Atlanta's defense was damn good this season.

FLANNERY: Horford's a fine choice, he might even be the right choice from the Hawks, but I'd like every opportunity to bring up the name of Paul Millsap because he's been the best player no one talks about this season. Paul Millsap is a great player and he's got the fastest hands in the league. We need more Paul Millsap in our daily lives.

Rookie of the Year

1st Place 2nd Place 3rd Place
Flanns K. Towns K. Porzingis J. Winslow
Zillz K. Towns K. Porzingis J. Winslow

ZILLER: I went with Justise Winslow as my No. 3 here despite serious consideration for Jahlil Okafor and Nikola Jokic. Good rookie class!

FLANNERY: It is a good rookie class and like most classes it will get better with age. I also have Winslow third because he was a season-long contributor on a good team and I simply love his game. ROY tends to be the most stats-driven, context-free award due to the nature of good rookies being on bad teams. A guy like Winslow really pops here. If he gets a reliable a jumper, he's going to be a star.

Coach of the Year

1st Place 2nd Place 3rd Place
Flanns G. Popovich S. Clifford T. Stotts
Zillz G. Popovich D. Casey S. Clifford

FLANNERY: I have Pop first and I feel strongly about that. He integrated a great player while changing his team's style and also elevating Kawhi Leonard into a No. 1 option. After that I don't know what to do with this one. There's no reason to defend having Steve Clifford or Terry Stotts on this list. Their work speaks for itself. But Steve Kerr/Luke Walton should be here and then there's Brad Stevens, Dwane Casey, Dave Joerger, etc. etc.

The coaching in this league has really improved over the last decade. Makes the bad ones stand out even more.

ZILLER: You know what's crazy? Phil Jackson only won a single Coach of the Year award, and it was in 1996. But I'm comfortable awarding it to Popovich instead of Kerr and/or Walton because neither of those coaches won 70 games. It's still a crazy precedent to have the winningest team ever not have the Coach of the Year given what goes into it.

This category is DEEP. So deep I didn't really consider Stevens, Carlisle, Spoelstra or Budenholzer, and they've all been pretty great.

Executive of the Year

1st Place 2nd Place 3rd Place
Flanns N. Olshey R.C. Buford S. Van Gundy
Zillz R.C. Buford M. Ujiri N. Olshey

ZILLER: Like Pop, R.C. Buford is a guy who could in theory win this award every year. This is also where I should note that I love seeing the full vote results on Executive of the Year, because there's always some goofy stuff happening. Like, someone gave Mitch Kupchak a second-place vote last season for ... uh, signing Nick Young and Jeremy Lin?

FLANNERY: It's so, so good. I have Olshey, which is a little strange since he lost arguably his best player to R.C. Buford. However, he executed a pretty damn good Plan B and I'm not at all convinced it wasn't really his Plan A all along. My other feeling on this award is that it should reflect more than just one year of decision-making, but whatever, it's always fun to watch these guys rate each other's work. Just wish it wasn't secret!

Sixth Man of the Year

1st Place 2nd Place 3rd Place
Flanns A. Iguodala E. Kanter W. Barton
Zillz Ed Davis T. Thompson E. Kanter

FLANNERY: I've been sitting on this Draymond Green quote for months so here goes:

"I know he won't have the numbers, but with all the advanced stuff now and all the different ways of looking at the game, you've got to look at impacting the game. Somebody can average 20 points and their impact can be piss poor. Somebody will look and say, 'Oh he's not averaging 20.' That's ancient times.

"I don't understand why he's not mentioned as Sixth Man of the Year. The reason he's coming off the bench is because of what he brings to us off the bench. On this team he's not needed to score 15, 20 points. And yet he's never mentioned because you have these guards come in and they get ‘em up and they average 17. Eh. Is that what we're looking for?"

No Draymond, it's not. Andre Iguodala forever.

ZILLER: Hard to argue with that. But along those lines, I gave the nod to Ed Davis, who does similar things in Portland as a reserve (low box score stats, high impact). Davis' bench role is so vital that Terry Stotts has refused to start him even as the team struggles to find the best option at starting power forward. What Ed does as a reserve is too important. Tristan Thompson is similar but is becoming a playoff starter, and Enes Kanter has been pretty marvelous as a third scoring option despite a bench role. But Iguodala has as good a case as anyone.

Most Improved Player

1st Place 2nd Place 3rd Place
Flanns D. Green
C.J. McCollum
G. Antetokounmpo
Zillz G. Antetokounmpo B. Biyombo H. Whiteside

ZILLER: Full disclaimer: we both hate this award and would throw it into our local rivers (the Charles and American, respectively) if given the award. I went slightly traditional with my No. 1 slot, giving it to Giannis Antetokounmpo, a young player showing the full extent of his powers. For the other two slots, I went with players whose per-minute numbers didn't improve but whose on-court value skyrocketed. The Raptors and Heat would be much worse off without Bismack Biyombo and Hassan Whiteside playing much better team defense than they had in the past.

FLANNERY: I like your pick but lest we forget, Draymond improved from a first-year starter to an All-Star and arguably a top-10 player in the league. Now that's improvement. He's a better passer and playmaker than we expected, and we thought he was pretty good last year, and he increased his shooting percentages across the board. What more do we want?


1st Team 2nd Team 3rd Team
Flanns Curry, Westbrook, Durant, James, Jordan Paul, Lowry, Leonard, Green, Horford Lillard, Thompson, Millsap, Aldridge, Cousins
Zillz Curry, Paul, Leonard, James, Jordan Westbrook, Lillard, Durant, Green, Cousins Lowry, Harden, Aldridge, George, Horford

FLANNERY: I don't have James Harden on my hypothetical All-NBA team. I bumped him for Klay Thompson (as well as Damian Lillard and Kyle Lowry). I did so because Harden wasn't in shape to start the season and the Rockets were by my estimation the biggest disappointment in the league. I'm sorry, but I'm not going to reward that lack of effort.

ZILLER: I sympathize with your Harden position but I have DeMarcus Cousins on second team despite the Kings playing 4-on-5 a dozen times a game. I actually think Harden's 2014-15 effort was unsustainable given his offensive load, so I'm willing to cut him some slack this season. But I'm fine with him making way for a two-way stud like Klay, who was phenomenal from start to finish.


1st Team 2nd Team
Flanns Bradley, Caldwell-Pope, Leonard, Green, Gobert Paul, Allen, George, Millsap, Duncan
Zillz Paul, K. Thompson, Leonard, Draymond Green, Horford Danny Green, Bradley, George, Bazemore, Whiteside

ZILLER: I admire and almost envy the Tim Duncan selection. I know the knock on Hassan Whiteside's defensive impact but he blocked 9.8 percent of opponent two-pointers while on the floor!

FLANNERY: Can't name everybody.


1st Team 2nd Team
Flanns Towns, Porzingis, Winslow, Jokic, Booker Russell, Turner, Okafor, Cauley-Stein, Mudiay
Zillz Towns, Porzingis, Winslow, Jokic, Okafor Booker, Russell, Cauley-Stein, Lyles, Turner

ZILLER: Good rookies.

FLANNERY: They're okay.

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