2017-18 NBA Award Picks: Harden will probably win MVP, but jury is out on Rookie of the Year

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The NBA Finals are finished and the Warriors are once again champions, so it’s a little weird when you realize that regular season awards haven’t even been handed out yet. The last regular-season game was played almost two months ago, but they won’t dole out awards like MVP, Rookie of the Year and Coach of the Year for another couple of weeks.

It’s been a long season with a lot of races (and a lot of controversies) for different awards, but it’s finally time to seriously start crunching numbers and talk about how they translate. As always, there are some obvious winners and some that are up for debate, but we won’t know for sure how they’ll shake out until the Monday, June 25 award show. In the meantime, our CBS Sports experts have their picks.

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Our experts are all on board with James Harden for MVP, but not everyone sees eye-to-eye when it comes to Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year or who should be Coach of the Year. 

Check below for all the picks for each major NBA award:

2017-18 NBA Awards

Why Harden deserves MVP:  Harden is going to be the runaway winner. He’s been the best player on the best team all season, he led the league in scoring at over 30 a game and was fourth in assists, and perhaps most importantly, he’s been the runner-up two of the last three years. It’s his turn. You can argue about whether than should factor into the award, but the reality is that it does. Harden will win MVP, and it won’t be close. — Brad Botkin

Why Simmons deserves Rookie of the Year: It’s been a while since we had a Rookie of the Year race as close and as relevant as this one, so choosing between Simmons and Donovan Mitchell was no easy task. What Mitchell did to carry the Jazz offense and lead them to the playoffs was remarkable, but ultimately Simmons’ overall stats and impact on both ends of the court as a 6-10 point guard just simply could not be ignored. This one will be debated for years to come. — Colin Ward-Henninger  

Why Gobert deserves Defensive Player of the Year: No player in the NBA has been as dominant defensively as Rudy Gobert. An imposing presence around the rim (and more nimble than he’s given credit for on the perimeter), the Jazz allowed just 97.5 points per 100 possessions after his return from a knee injury on Jan. 19. That was by far the best mark in the league and the reason they went 30-8 in that span, establishing themselves as a force in the Western Conference. The best argument against Gobert is that he missed a third of the season due to injury, but given that his main competition, Joel Embiid, missed 19 games himself, that is not a very convincing case this time around. — James Herbert  

Why Oladipo deserves Most Improved Player: Funny to think how mocked the PacersPaul George trade was at the time. Oladipo turned into an All-Star, and improved across the board. Most impressively, he raising his scoring average from less than 16 points per game to more than 23 points per game. — Reid Forgrave

Why Williams deserves Sixth Man of the Year: Lou Williams is the unanimous choice here, and he really does deserve to win his second Most Improved Player award. (He won in 2015 as a member of the Toronto Raptors.) This is the first time in his career that he had a genuine case for All-Stardom, and while his efficiency dipped in the last couple of months, he finished the year averaging a career-high 22.6 points with a 57.4 true shooting percentage. There are other worthy candidates, for sure (the Raptors’ Fred VanVleet, the RocketsEric Gordon and the Heat’s Wayne Ellington among them), but no bench player carried his team’s offense the way Williams did. — James Herbert 

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Brad Stevens has led his Celtics to 55 wins and nearly the No. 1 seed despite missing two proven stars. USATSI

Why Stevens deserves Coach of the Year: Just five minutes into the Celtics‘ first game, they lost their best two-way player for the season. Since then they’ve lost their best scorer for the season, one of their best young players was nearly paralyzed and their best defender has missed 28 games. Yet Brad Stevens has guided the team to 55 wins and the No. 2 seed in the East. At one point they rattled off a six-game winning streak with victories over the Thunder, Trail Blazers, Jazz and Raptors while playing with half their team. It’s simply stunning what Stevens has managed to do this season. — Jack Maloney

Why Morey deserves Executive of The Year: In one offseason, Morey took a great team and made them even better. He traded away multiple rotation pieces to add Chris Paul, and then he added better ones. Luc Mbah a Moute has turned into the Rockets’ best defensive player. P.J. Tucker has been fantastic. They even managed to add longtime vet Joe Johnson in the middle of the season. A lot of executives fall into the trap of keeping their pieces too long and letting those players age out. Morey didn’t do that. He took a risk, and it’s paid off in the best possible way. — Chris Barnewall

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