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Warriors awards watch: Who can win?

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It’s never too early.

Portland Trail Blazers v Golden State Warriors - Game Five Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors have plenty of players on their roster who have taken home hardware. Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson (who yes, is still on the roster despite his season-ending Achilles injury) are All-Stars. Curry has won two MVPs, Green has won a Defensive Player of the Year, and he and Thompson both have made the All-Defense team. And though he wasn’t a member of the Warriors when he was awarded it, Andrew Wiggins has a Rookie of the Year trophy somewhere in his closet.

The Warriors may not win any individual accolades this year ... but they might! Let’s take a look at where they stand.

Near locks

Steph Curry — All-Star and All-NBA: It’s unclear if there will actually be All-Stars this year. There’s no All-Star Game, but there is an All-Star break. If the league still decides to give players recognition as All-Stars, only poor health can keep Curry from banking his seventh selection. He’s one of the best players in the league, and one of its most popular stars.

If he stays healthy, he should be an All-NBA lock as well.

James Wiseman — All-Rookie Team: The NBA awards both a first and second-team of All-Rookie selections, meaning ten first year players get this distinction. Wiseman is a lock to receive serious minutes on what figures to be a good Warriors team. With his size and athleticism, he’ll put up pretty nice stats throwing down lobs and gobbling up rebounds.

How valuable he’ll be remains to be seen, but it would be a shock if he doesn’t make one of the All-Rookie teams, as Eric Paschall did a year ago.

In the discussion

Steph Curry — Most Valuable Player: Curry is one of just two players in the league (LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo being the others) with multiple MVPs to his name. And while he hasn’t earned too much love in that department since winning unanimously in 2015-16, it isn’t because his play dropped off. He shared the stage with Kevin Durant for three years, and was injured last season.

He’s still an elite player, and he’ll be asked to carry a big load and put up gaudy stats. He’s got as good a shot as anyone.

Draymond Green — All-Defense Team: Green should make the All-Defense team every season — he’s an all-world defender. But it’s a recognition that always has some funky votes to it. Green half-assing the season, as he did a year ago, is still one of the best defenders in the world, but it won’t sway the judges. He needs to be healthy and committed, and the Warriors need to be a good team.

The talent will be there, but the context needs to fall into place.

James Wiseman: Rookie of the Year: We’ve yet to see Wiseman take the court for the Warriors, yet the organization is talking about him like they’ve already commissioned the jersey to hang in the rafters at Chase Center.

One big thing stands in Wiseman’s way as he looks to take home top rookie honors: Will he get enough minutes? Even with the Warriors being high on him, they also have Marquese Chriss, who they’re high on, and Kevon Looney, who is really good. And they’ve eschewed the traditional starting center role ever since Andrew Bogut left town (the first time).

If Wiseman plays the way the Warriors are advertising him, he’ll be in the discussion. But players like LaMelo Ball will be in better positions to earn awards, given their larger roles.

Possible

Draymond Green — Defensive Player of the Year: I would be pretty surprised if Green took home Defensive Player of the Year honors for the second time in his career. But I would be not even a tiny bit surprised if he graded out as the league’s top defender in all the advanced metrics.

Green is as good of a defender as they come but he doesn’t have the gaudy block or steal rates that other nominees like Rudy Gobert, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Anthony Davis have. And he’s starting the year injured.

Being the league’s top defensive player is well within his grasp. Being recognized as such is a little further away.

Not likely, but feasible

Steph Curry, Andrew Wiggins, Kelly Oubre Jr. — All-Defense Team: All three of these players have strong defensive talents, and varying levels of being able to put those talents together. Curry has long been one of the league’s most underrated defenders, but also has never been near an All-Defense level. Wiggins’ defense gets overlooked, and he needs to learn to commit to it more. Oubre’s defense probably gets more credit than it deserves, but the pieces are all there.

The Warriors plan to hang their hat on defense this year, and if they emerge as a top-five defense, media members will need more than just Green to point towards. Any of these three could take a step forward on the court, and in the eyes of voters.

Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre Jr. — Most Improved Player: Wiggins and Oubre are playing for functional organizations, with good coaches, next to good leaders and an MVP for the first time in their career. I don’t think you should expect either of them to take a leap and maximize their potential, but wouldn’t be the most shocking thing, either.

The Warriors will certainly be hoping to bring home team success more than individual accolades, but any and all of these sure would be nice.