The Los Angeles Clippers, who overachieved in the eyes of many by not only making the playoffs, but taking two games in their first-round series against two-time defending champion Golden State, had coach Doc Rivers and star reserves Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams nominated for NBA awards.
Rivers, Milwaukee’s Mike Budenholzer and Denver’s Michael Malone are the finalists for coach of the year. Rivers guided a rebuilding team that added a handful of players at the trade deadline into the playoffs with a record of 48-34, about a dozen more wins than many experts predicted. Milwaukee (60-22) had the NBA’s best record while Denver (54-28) was another surprise team by finishing second in the Western Conference.
Harrell (16.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game) and Williams (20.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 5.4 assists) were the highest scoring pair of reserves on one team this season and are both finalists for sixth man of the year. Indiana’s Domantas Sabonis is the other finalist.
Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Oklahoma City’s Paul George are both finalists for most valuable player and defensive player of the year. Houston’s James Harden is the other MVP candidate and Utah’s Rudy Golbert is the other nominee for defensive player of the year.
The finalists for rookie of the year are Phoenix’s Deandre Ayton, Dallas’ Luka Doncic and Atlanta’s Trae Young.
Sacramento’s De’Aaron Fox, Brooklyn’s D’Angelo Russell and Toronto’s Pascal Siakam are finalists for most improved player.
The winners will be announced June 24 during the annual NBA Awards show, which will be televised on TNT from the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica.
Lakers great Magic Johnson and Celtics legend Larry Bird will be honored with a lifetime achievement award while TV host Robin Roberts will receive the Sager Strong Award.
Also announced during the show will be winners for executive of the year, the hustle award as well as the All-Rookie team and All-Defensive team.