Awards season is upon us, a perfect time for the Brooklyn Nets, who head into the all-star break on a hot streak, winning 9 of their last 10 games, almost all without Kevin Durant. Practically everything is going right for them at the moment, and there are plenty of players to give credit to. Without further ado, here are the Brooklyn Nets mid-season awards.
Rookie of the Year
This is a tricky award for the Nets. Reggie Perry is the only real rookie who has played minutes for the Nets this season. Perry started off the season with Brooklyn. However, he played in only a handful of games before he got assigned to the Long Island Nets. While Perry showed potential, he struggled during his time with the team. This makes it seem wrong for me to give him an award.
So instead, I am giving the ROTY award to none other than Nicolas Claxton. I know what you’re thinking. Claxton isn’t a rookie. Well, he only played 15 games during his rookie year last season, none of which he got significant minutes. And if Ben Simmons can win the official rookie of the year in his 2nd year for the entire league, Nicolas Claxton can win rookie of the year in these fictional mid-season awards for the Brooklyn Nets. Claxton has provided excellent minutes these past few games with Jeff Green out. Claxton’s ability to finish around the basket as well as switch onto guards and effectively defend has proven key to the Nets’ success. After scoring 17 points last game in 16 minutes, there is no one else who deserves this award.
6th Man of the Year
This is another tough award for the Nets considering they have had so many injuries and their starting lineup and bench is constantly changing. Bruce Brown and Joe Harris have both been the first man to come off the bench at some point this season, but neither have for a long enough span to warrant winning this award. DeAndre Jordan is another player who has been in and out of the starting lineup, but regardless he has struggled mightily this season.
The only player who has gotten consistent minutes off the bench the entirety of the season is none other than Landry Shamet. While Shamet started off the season slow, he has slowly come along nicely and has found his role with the team. Shamet has been getting 25 minutes or so off the bench and has been a solid 3 point shooter. He also has the ability to take the ball to the rim and finish while also being able to kick out to an open shooter. Shamet has been there off the bench this season through the highs and lows, and he rightfully deserves this award.
Most Improved Player
Contrary to the other awards, many Nets players are worthy candidates here. James Harden and Kyrie Irving and even Kevin Durant before injury are all having career years. Bruce Brown, a player not many knew of last year, has become the Nets starting center at just 6 foot 4 and has thrived. However, only one player has clearly improved every asset of their game to the point where you wonder how much better are they going to get?
Joe Harris, the longest tenured Nets, has somehow improved once again this season. Harris was already one of the best 3 point shooters in the league. However, he has improved his stroke even more this season, upping his 3 point percentage from 42% last season to 50% this season. This comes with averaging 7 threes per game to last year’s 6. Harris is also averaging more points and is shooting better from the field in general, 53% this year to last year’s 48%. Harris has also added the side step 3 to his game, which allows him to get more open looks for himself and his teammates. Defensively, Harris has also improved, no longer a liability as he once was. His scoring around the rim has also taken a leap, effectively being able to finish with both hands. Joe Harris has been complementing Durant, Harden, and Irving perfectly, always finding the open spot on the court. No matter how many times he shoots 12 in a game, Harris never complains and just does his job to helps the team win.
Defensive Player of the Year
This award is a bit ironic considering that for the most part of the season the Nets had a historically bad defense. While that is no longer the case as the defense has gradually improved, it is still far from above average. However, there is one player who is by far the Nets’ best defensive player, and that is Kevin Durant. Durant, who is already the best score in the entire league, is also a fantastic defensive player. KD always guards the other team’s best player, using his length and speed to constantly nag and limit them. Durant is also a great shot blocker, averaging 1.4 blocks per game this year. Durant, a great all-around player and an all-time great, will continue to be the Nets’ best defensive player once he returns from injury.
Most Valuable Player
Most teams have a clear cut MVP. But the Nets aren’t most teams. They actually have 3 players who deserve this award, and I think you can guess who they are. If Kevin Durant hadn’t gotten injured I would have most definitely given this award to him. But KD has now been out multiple weeks and the Nets have won 9 of their last 10 games without him.
And the player that has proven to be most valuable to this team and has even vaulted himself into the league wide MVP discussion? James Harden. That’s right, James Harden, who didn’t even start the season as a Brooklyn Net. Harden has been nothing short of phenomenal during his time with the Nets. He has fit in perfectly, taking on the role of point guard. His ability to distribute the ball and find open shooters is a generational talent. Joe Harris even said that Harden is “by far the best passer I’ve ever played with” (Harris played with Lebron). Harden is averaging a career best 11.4 assists with the Nets, which is by far the most in the league. Harden is also shooting the 3 ball the best he’s ever done so in his career at almost 50% with Brooklyn. And with all this, Harden can still take over games with his extraordinary offensive game. There is absolutely no one that regrets the Harden trade. James Harden has met and exceeded all expectations as a Brooklyn Net. I cannot wait to see him try and lead us to a championship.