The Golden State Warriors are not heading into the All-Star break in the fashion that they had hoped for. They blew a double-digit lead in Wednesday’s loss to the Denver Nuggets, which gave them four losses in their last five games, and dropped them six games behind the Phoenix Suns in the standings.
But even so, the Dubs enter the break as one of the top teams in the association, sporting the league’s second-best record. They’re in a great place, even if there’s a sour taste in everyone’s mouths at the moment.
And when you’re one of the best teams in the league, you’re automatically in the discussion for some awards. So let’s check out where the Dubs stand in the awards races.
MVP — Steph Curry
Curry was the early leader in the MVP race when the Warriors were stacking wins on top of wins and he was putting up gaudy numbers. But since then the two-time winner has entered something of a shooting slump — by his other-worldly standards, it should be noted — and the Warriors have started to look beatable.
As such, he’s fallen from the top of the MVP pedestal. By my estimation, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, and reigning MVP Nikola Jokić are all fairly neck-and-neck for the award, with Curry and DeMar DeRozan watching from the wings.
If the voting were today, Curry would receive plenty of down-ballot votes, but wouldn’t really be in contention to win. But with a few of his Curry flurries, and a Dubs run to end the season, Steph could get himself right back into the conversation.
DPOY — Draymond Green
I think it’s safe to say that when Green suffered his injury, he was the frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year. And, as a result, I think it’s safe to say that he’s been the best defensive player in the NBA this year, when healthy.
But those last two words are currently keeping him from collecting his second such trophy. Dray has already missed 25 games this year, and that number will surely be higher by season’s end. Green may end the season widely regarded as the most impactful defensive player in the NBA, but it’s highly unlikely that he’ll have the hardware to back it up, especially with the season Antetokounmpo is having.
ROY — Jonathan Kuminga
2021 was considered a draft class dripping with high-end talent, though so far only one player has stood out for having an excellent season: Cleveland Cavaliers center Evan Mobley.
Were it not for Mobley’s season, Kuminga might be able to make a late run towards the hardware.
You could make the case that JK has been the most impactful rookie in the league this season, when on the court. I mean, look at these absurd numbers:
Jonathan Kuminga, per 100 possessions relative to the 6 players drafted ahead of him:— Brady Klopfer (@BradyKlopferNBA) February 17, 2022
Kuminga: 26.8 pts, 59.1% TS
Cunningham: 24.0 pts, 48.9% TS
Green: 22.6 pts, 51.5%
Mobley: 21.8 pts, 54.7% TS
Barnes: 20.3 pts, 53.6% TS
Suggs: 21.7 pts, 46.2% TS
Giddey: 19.4 pts, 47.8% TS
He’s benefitted from the Warriors slow-playing him, from being put in favorable matchups, and from sharing the court with Curry, but even so ... only 15 rookies in NBA history (minimum 600 minutes) have put up 25+ points per 100 possessions on 59+% true-shooting. And that list includes Michael Jordan, David Robinson, Arvydas Sabonis, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Zion Williamson.
But while Kuminga has shown off when on the court, he hasn’t received the necessary minutes to make a real case for the award, and is running out of time to do so.
COY — Steve Kerr
Kerr’s case for coach of the year looked a lot stronger before Green’s injury. As is, you can go ahead and print the trophy for Monty Williams, who had an excellent case to win the award last season, and whose Suns team is miles ahead of the competition in the standings.
But if the Warriors finish things where they currently are — which is to say, with the second-best record in the league — Kerr will earn some down-ballot votes for his work helping the team recover from a rugged 2020-21 campaign.
All-NBA — Curry, Green, and Wiggins
You can go ahead and pencil Curry in for the All-NBA squad. And if he stays healthy, you can go ahead and pencil him into the first-team, too, likely alongside DeRozan.
That’s likely all of the Warriors representation on either of the All-NBA teams. Had Green stayed healthy all year, he’d be in strong consideration. But even with forwards Anthony Davis, Paul George, and Kawhi Leonard not in contention this year, there are too many quality options to go with Draymond after he missed 30-40 games.
Wiggins being an All-Star starter means we need to discuss him here, but his inclusion seems highly unlikely, especially given that the All-NBA teams are voted on by the media, who were not the responsible force for Wiggins’ All-Star spot. With forwards like Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, Luka Donćić, Jimmy Butler, Kevin Durant, Jayson Tatum, Khris Middleton, Pascal Siakam, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Jarrett Allen, it’s a little difficult to imagine Wiggins getting selected to the team.
All-Defense — Green, Wiggins, and GPII
Green, Wiggins, and Gary Payton II all have strong cases for the All-Defense team. They also all have large question marks.
For Green, it’s a matter of whether voters are willing to overlook his limited games. For GPII, it’s a matter of whether voters are willing to overlook his limited minutes. And for Wiggins it’s a matter of whether his defense, which is good but not exactly a standout, is seen as enough. Only one of the 100 voters chose him last year, after all.
If I had to guess, Green gets the nod, and that’s it.
All-Rookie — Kuminga
Do I need to share those stats again? No? OK, good.
Personally I think the Dubs should win all the awards, but that’s just me.