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Handing Out All 80 Major NBA Accolades of the 2017-18 Season!

2018 NBA Season Projections All Star All NBA Champions

Handing Out All 80 Major NBA Accolades of the 2017-18 Season!

There are 80 major NBA accolades and honors to hand out in the modern regular season and playoff format. Let’s peer into the future and project each winner of these prestigious NBA awards!

The major categories of awards (which I call BLING on the site) are:

  • All-Star participants
  • All-NBA team selections
  • All-Defensive team selections
  • All-Rookie team selections
  • Season award winners
  • NBA Champions

Projecting the winners of these accolades is important, as they are the major types of physical hardware a player can earn in a given season. First, I will address each award type by nominating my choices and explaining the rationale behind them. Next, I will update accolade/BLING tallies to see how players stack up versus one another. Afterwards, I will present the most-decorated players from the 2017-18 season and analyze how their award haul affects their NBA historical legacy.

Also note that when I refer to “BLING” in this article, I am referencing the stat that I use frequently on this site (click here for more info). BLING is equal to one piece of NBA hardware/accolade. As more accolades are earned, Career BLING adds up. In mathematical form, it’s presented as:

BLING = All-Star Game appearances + All-League team selections + Season awards + NBA championships

Lastly, I will “hand out” these awards in chronological order as they would occur throughout the NBA season. Let’s begin with the 2017-18 All-Star Game!

 


All-Star Game

Due to new changes to the All-Star Game, it is no longer East-vs-West. Rather, two captains will choose their teams. However, the player pool must still consist of 12 players from each conference. I will attempt to select balanced rosters, just for fun. The focus is more on which 24 players (two teams of 12) will make the cut, not so much which specific team they are on.

Total BLING Available: 24 (two teams of 12 players each)

All-Star Game Participants

All-Star PositionTeam 1Team 2
Backcourt: StarterJames HardenStephen Curry
Backcourt: StarterKyrie IrvingRussell Westbrook
Frontcourt: StarterLeBron JamesKevin Durant
Frontcourt: StarterKawhi LeonardGiannis Antetokounmpo
Frontcourt: StarterAnthony DavisDeMarcus Cousins
Backcourt: BenchChris PaulJohn Wall
Backcourt: BenchDeMar DeRozanDamian Lillard
Frontcourt: BenchJimmy ButlerPaul George
Frontcourt: BenchKarl-Anthony TownsJoel Embiid
Frontcourt: BenchGordon HaywardKristaps Porzingis
BenchBradley BealKemba Walker
BenchKyle LowryKevin Love

Notable Exceptions:

  • Klay Thompson (West)
  • Draymond Green (West)
  • Blake Griffin (West)
  • DeAndre Jordan (West)
  • Rudy Gobert (West)
  • CJ McCollum (West)
  • Andre Drummond (East)
  • Ben Simmons (East)

Selection Rationale: Due to the mass influx of elite talent to the West, picking the pool of 24 All-Star players was very difficult. Despite the rule changes, 12 players still must be chosen from each conference. Also, reserves are still chosen as two backcourt players, three frontcourt players and two players from any position. With these constraints in play, I was forced to pick multiple Eastern players over arguably more well-deserving Western players.

BLING Impact: Each player earns +1 BLING/accolade for making the All-Star Game.

 

All-Star Game MVP

This award is likely the least impactful of all given out. Regardless, it is recognized hardware that a player can earn during the season. Predicting the winner is basically a crap-shoot, but I will pick the player I deem most likely. I’ll give it to Harden, since he hasn’t yet won the award and could rack up tons of points and assists.

 All-Star Game MVP
1James Harden

BLING Impact: The player earns +1 BLING/accolade for winning the All-Star Game MVP trophy.

 


All-League Selections

At season’s end, the NBA nominates a total of 35 players across three “teams”:

  • All-NBA Team (best all-around players in a season)
  • All-Defensive Team (best defensive players in a season)
  • All-Rookie Team (best rookies in a season)

All-NBA Team

Total BLING Available: 15 (three teams of 5 players each)

All-NBA Selections

PositionAll-NBA 1st TeamAll-NBA 2nd TeamAll-NBA 3rd Team
GuardRussell WestbrookJames HardenJohn Wall
GuardStephen CurryKyrie IrvingChris Paul
ForwardLeBron JamesKawhi LeonardJimmy Butler
ForwardKevin DurantGiannis AntetokounmpoPaul George
CenterAnthony DavisKarl-Anthony TownsNikola Jokic

Rationale: It is a crime placing Kawhi Leonard on the All-NBA 2nd Team, especially when he may be the favorite to win MVP. However, I just don’t see him making the 1st-Team over a healthy James or Durant. The competition at guard is fierce, as all six players would be deserving of 1st-team honors. I believe that Curry gets the 1st-Team nod for leading Golden State to a likely historic season. As for Westbrook, I have him narrowly edging out Harden for 1st-Team due to posting his most efficient season en route to a top-3 seed finish for OKC.

John Wall also gets criminally underrated by finishing on the 3rd-Team. However, I expect Boston to challenge for the Eastern crown. If that happens, I’d expect Kyrie to gain a few more votes and get the 2nd-Team nod. Lastly, I place Karl-Anthony Towns on the 2nd-Team. I am just a big believer in his star bursting this season and receiving league-wide recognition for his talents. Last year he posted 25 points and 12 rebounds, as a sophomore. With a likely playoff berth coming his way, I see him ascending past Cousins in the center positional rankings.

BLING Impact: Each player earns +1 BLING/accolade for making the All-NBA team.

 

All-Defensive Team

Total BLING Available: 10 (two teams of 5 players each)

All-Defensive Selections

PositionAll-Defensive 1st TeamAll-Defensive 2nd Team
GuardJohn WallChris Paul
GuardAvery BradleyAndre Roberson
ForwardKawhi LeonardGiannis Antetokounmpo
ForwardDraymond GreenKevin Durant
CenterRudy GobertAnthony Davis

Rationale: Gobert, Draymond and Kawhi should be locks to repeat as 1st-Team All-Defensive selections. The guard spots, however, could be up for grabs. As Chris Paul ages and plays in a more offensive-oriented system, I wonder if his defensive prowess takes a slight dip. If so, I’m projecting an under-rated defender to take his place on the 1st-Team: John Wall. He’s entering this season healthier than ever, hungry to avenge his playoff loss and poised as a dark horse MVP candidate. Last season, Wall recorded more defensive win shares than Paul (3.0 to 2.8, respectively).

To be fair, though, Wall’s Defensive Points Saved (DPS) of 23.0 paled in comparison to Paul’s 34.6. It should be a fierce battle for defensive supremacy! Meanwhile, I expect Kevin Durant to transfer last year’s defensive improvements into full throttle this year. He may average 1.5+ STL and 1.5+ BLK while anchoring the paint with Draymond. Giannis could challenge for 1st-Team status but has so much competition at the forward spot.

BLING Impact: Each player earns +1 BLING/accolade for making the All-Defensive team.

 

All-Rookie Team

Total BLING Available: 10 (two teams of 5 players each)

All-Rookie Selections

PositionAll-Rookie 1st TeamAll-Rookie 2nd Team
GuardDennis Smith JrMarkelle Fultz
GuardLonzo BallMalik Monk
ForwardBen SimmonsKyle Kuzma
ForwardJayson TatumJosh Jackson
CenterJohn CollinsJonathan Isaac

Rationale: Those who earn All-Rookie honors aren’t necessarily the best rookies. Rather, it often goes to rookies with a better opportunity to play heavy minutes. This factors into my selections for this year’s All-Rookie teams. I am a big believer in the talent of De’Aaron Fox. However, he will likely play behind veteran George Hill this season. As for Ball and Smith Jr., they have clear paths to starting jobs and should post huge numbers to boot. Ben Simmons can be argued as a guard, but either way he should earn 1st-Team honors assuming good health.

Teammate Markelle Fultz is a wild-card, as he could either blow the other rookie guards out of the water or play fewer minutes due to veteran J.J. Redick. With the Sixers committing to playing Simmons as their “point forward/guard”, I expect Fultz to operate more as a combo guard. Meanwhile, Malik Monk and Kyle Kuzma have absolutely shined in the NBA Summer League and preseason. They have great opportunities to earn starter minutes, as each possesses a skillset badly needed by their respective teams. This class is weak on big men, so I went with Collins’ likely heavy minutes in Atlanta and Isaac playing more of a “big man” role in Orlando.

BLING Impact: Each player earns +1 BLING/accolade for making the All-Defensive team.

 


NBA Season Awards

Following the conclusion of the NBA regular season, major player awards are given out in the newly-implemented “NBA Awards Show”. There are five major player awards handed out:

  • Most Valuable Player (MVP)
  • Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY)
  • Rookie of the Year (ROTY)
  • Most Improved Player (MIP)
  • Sixth Man of the Year (6th)

Total BLING Available: 5 (one for each award winner)

Season Award Winners:

Season AwardWinning Player
MVPKevin Durant, GSW
DPOYRudy Gobert, UTA
ROTYBen Simmons, PHI
MIPNikola Jokic, DEN
6thAndre Iguodala, GSW

Rationale: My pre-season MVP favorites are Durant, Lebron James and Kawhi Leonard. Other candidates will likely emerge, but I am picking KD to win the trophy if he stays healthy. Having now won his elusive NBA championship, I expect to see him “unleashed” in ways we’ve not yet seen. If he leads the Warriors to another historic season, expect to see him get recognized for the accomplishment. As for DPOY, it should also be a three-player race between Gobert, Leonard and Draymond Green. With the departure of Gordon Hayward, the Utah Jazz are now more reliant than ever on Rudy’s dominance down low. I’m expecting his value and input to warrant winning the award.

ROTY should be a fun race, but I see Simmons rating slightly ahead of the rest of the pack. He’s averaging 14 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists in the preseason. He should win the award in a landslide if he approaches these numbers. However, I’d expect the Lakers’ Lonzo Ball and the Mavericks’ Dennis Smith, Jr. to make him work for it. MIP is difficult to project, as it’s often an unforeseen player rise to new heights. My initial pick will be Jokic, who could lead the Denver Nuggets to the postseason off the back of his offensive brilliance. For the Sixth Man award… just give it either to Iguodala, Eric Gordon or new bench player J.R. Smith.

 


NBA Playoff Results

The playoffs hand out far fewer honors and awards than the regular season. In terms of physical hardware, only two types of BLING can be won:

  • NBA Championship ring
  • Finals MVP trophy

NBA Championship

This section is of course subject to predicting who will win the title. While anything can happen, my bets are on the Golden State Warriors to repeat as NBA champions.

Total BLING Available: 13-15 (1 per player on the championship-winning team; varies based on the active roster size)

 GSW Playoff Roster
1Klay Thompson
2Draymond Green
3Patrick McCaw
4Jordan Bell
5Stephen Curry
6Kevin Durant
7Andre Iguodala
8Shaun Livingston
9Nick Young
10Zaza Pachulia
11Omri Casspi
12David West
13JaVale McGee
14Kevon Looney

 

Finals MVP Trophy

Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant will always be the FMVP favorite as long as they play together. Perhaps another player makes a run at the award. For now, though, I will tab Durant as the favorite to win if they deliver in the NBA Finals.

Total BLING Available: 1 (the FMVP award winner)

 Finals MVP Winner
1Kevin Durant

 


Final 2017-18 Award Count

Player Standings by BLING

Now that all of the 2017-18 season accolades have been given out, let’s tally up the winners and see who earned the most projected BLING of the year! See this illustrated in the table below:

Player NameAll-Star GameAll-NBA TeamAll-Defensive TeamAll-Rookie TeamSeason & Playoff AwardsChampionshipTotal BLING
Kevin Durant1110216
James Harden1100103
Kawhi Leonard1110003
Anthony Davis1110003
Chris Paul1110003
Stephen Curry1100013
Giannis Antetokounmpo1110003
John Wall1110003
Paul George1100002
Kyrie Irving1100002
LeBron James1100002
Jimmy Butler1100002
Karl-Anthony Towns1100002
Russell Westbrook1100002
Draymond Green0010012
Rudy Gobert0010102
Ben Simmons0001102
Nikola Jokic0100102
Andre Iguodala0000112
DeMar DeRozan1000001
Gordon Hayward1000001
Bradley Beal1000001
Kyle Lowry1000001
DeMarcus Cousins1000001
Damian Lillard1000001
Joel Embiid1000001
Kristaps Porzingis1000001
Kemba Walker1000001
Kevin Love1000001
Avery Bradley0010001
Andre Roberson0010001
Dennis Smith Jr0001001
Lonzo Ball0001001
Jayson Tatum0001001
John Collins0001001
Markelle Fultz0001001
Malik Monk0001001
Kyle Kuzma0001001
Josh Jackson0001001
Jonathan Isaac0001001
Klay Thompson0000011
Patrick McCaw0000011
Jordan Bell0000011
Shaun Livingston0000011
Nick Young0000011
Zaza Pachulia0000011
Omri Casspi0000011
David West0000011
JaVale McGee0000011
Kevon Looney0000011

Projected 2017-18 BLING Leader: Kevin Durant (6)

If KD brings in this haul, it would be one of the great seasons of all-time. To recap, I’m projecting him to earn the following BLING:

  • All-Star Game appearance
  • All-NBA 1st Team
  • All-Defensive 2nd Team
  • NBA MVP
  • NBA Championship
  • NBA Finals MVP

Only 10 players in NBA history have earned 6+ BLING in one season. Note that Durant’s current HiBLING Season mark stands at 4, so this would be a significant leap. By doing so, KD would join elite historic company. I’m showing those select players below, along with how many “All-Time Historic Seasons” (a.k.a. BLING seasons of 5 >) they recorded:

 

This tally could reach even higher if he wins the All-Star Game MVP award. I’m of the opinion that having now won a title, Durant will be fully unleashed this season. His defense was immaculate throughout the playoffs and his offense was historically efficient. If those two elements are fused together, Kevin could absolutely dominate this season and stake a claim as the best player in the world.

To put this into historical context, the most-decorated NBA seasons came from four players: Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon and Willis Reed (shown above). Each player earned a staggering 7 BLING in their respective seasons (Jordan did this 2x). For more information, check out my article on these historic seasons:

BLING Stats: Analyzing the 5 Most Decorated NBA Seasons Ever

Other Notable Projected BLING Winners

Meanwhile, I have seven players earning 3 BLING in 2017-18:

  • James Harden (All-Star, All-NBA 2nd Team, All-Star Game MVP)
  • Kawhi Leonard (All-Star, All-NBA 2nd Team, All-Defensive 1st Team)
  • Stephen Curry (All-Star, All-NBA 1st Team, NBA Champion)
  • Anthony Davis (All-Star, All-NBA 1st Team, All-Defensive 2nd Team)
  • John Wall (All-Star, All-NBA 3rd Team, All-Defensive 1st Team)
  • Chris Paul (All-Star, All-NBA 3rd Team, All-Defensive 2nd Team)
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo (All-Star, All-NBA 2nd Team, All-Defensive 2nd Team)

Earning 3 BLING accolades in one season is impressive in its’ own right. In my “HiBLING” statistic, I classify this as a historically “elite season”. The career leader in this category is Tim Duncan, who’s recorded BLING seasons of “3 or >” a staggering 15 times!

See below for a chart comparing Duncan’s BLING Seasons of “3 >” to the eight players mentioned above (including Durant):

Note: These results include the 2017-18 projections. All active players currently have 1 fewer NBA season & 1 fewer “elite” BLING season.

 

Career BLING Update After 2017-18 Projected Totals

Lastly, I will illustrate how these projected BLING tallies for select players will impact their ranking among history’s best players. Below, you will see an infographic for each of the 8 players forecasted to win 3+ BLING in the upcoming NBA season. It will show their projected historical standing among similar legendary players from the past.

**NOTE: These rankings come from my BLING list of 81 measured all-time players. There are more to add to this list, so these rankings do not reflect every historical NBA player. However, this list does include all MVP and Finals MVP winners from NBA history.**

Chris Paul

Career BLING Total Before ’18 Season: 29

Career BLING Total After ’18 Season: 32 (+3)

Before- and after-effect of Paul’s 2018 BLING haul. His Career BLING totals are impressive & indicative of his numerous All-NBA & All-Defensive selections. Adding 3 more accolades in 2018 would boost him past fellow PG’s Oscar Robertson and Gary Payton. He’d be on pace to tie/surpass Bob Cousy in one more season!

Kevin Durant

Career BLING Total Before ’18 Season: 21

Career BLING Total After ’18 Season: 27 (+6)

Before- and after-effect of Durant’s 2018 BLING haul. By winning 6 more accolades, he would surpass such legends as Stockton, Barkley, Iverson, Ewing and Thomas in career BLING. That’s a historically significant leap forward!

 

Kawhi Leonard

Career BLING Total Before ’18 Season: 13

Career BLING Total After ’18 Season: 16 (+3)

Before- and after-effect of Leonard’s 2018 BLING haul. With 3 more accolades, Kawhi would continue setting the pace among his peers. Winning 16 BLING in only 7 seasons is a blistering pace to set. In this projected scenario, Leonard’s Career BLING would tie Clyde Drexler and George Mikan and surpass Alonzo Mourning and Ray Allen. He’s definitely climbing up the all-time list!

 

Stephen Curry

Career BLING Total Before ’18 Season: 13

Career BLING Total After ’18 Season: 16 (+3)

Before- and after-effect of Curry’s 2018 BLING haul. Adding 3 more accolades would tie him with Tony Parker and leave him just 1 BLING behind Steve Nash. Steph’s earned most of these accolades just in the past 3-4 seasons, marking a sudden and remarkable rise up the rankings. He could move up further if he happens to win the Finals MVP trophy in 2018.

 

James Harden

Career BLING Total Before ’18 Season: 11

Career BLING Total After ’18 Season: 14 (+3)

Before- and after-effect of Harden’s 2018 BLING haul. By earning 3 more accolades, James’ Career BLING total would tie James Worthy and surpass the likes of David Thompson and Chauncey Billups. He could tie Steve Nash’s total of 17 with one more equivalent season.

 

Anthony Davis

Career BLING Total Before ’18 Season: 10

Career BLING Total After ’18 Season: 13 (+3)

Before- and after-effect of Davis’ 2018 BLING haul. He’s won more Career BLING in fewer seasons than Kyrie Irving & widens that gap in this projection. At a young age, he would already surpass the totals of Bob McAdoo, Wes Unseld and Bill Walton. With 13 Career BLING in 6 seasons, he would match the red-hot pace set by Kawhi Leonard.

 

John Wall

Career BLING Total Before ’18 Season: 7

Career BLING Total After ’18 Season: 10 (+3)

Before- and after-effect of John’s 2018 BLING haul. It has taken him a while to earn top-tier recognition, but that’s set to change as Wall enters his prime. He could potentially replace CP3 as the new “default” All-Defensive selection at PG, which would significantly boost his Career BLING in the coming years.

 

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Career BLING Total Before ’18 Season: 7

Career BLING Total After ’18 Season: 10 (+3)

Before- and after-effect of Giannis’ 2018 BLING haul. The “Greek Freak” actually earned 4 BLING in the 2016-17 season alone, which propelled him to his current standing. With another 3 accolades earned this upcoming season, he would tie Reggie Miller’s career total and begin making his way up the list. He has a long way to go, but can climb quickly with a half decade of All-NBA and All-Defensive team selections. A future MVP award would also help out 🙂

 

Conclusion

This was a fun exercise, as there is so much at stake for the current crop of NBA superstars. This upcoming season could either help or hinder not only their league-wide reputation, but their gradual ascendance up the all-time “greatest player” ranks. I will re-visit this article at the All-Star break and season’s end to compare the predictions to actual results. There is a fine line between what’s forecasted above and what may actually occur. Think about the difference if the following outcomes occur:

  • LeBron James or Kawhi Leonard win the MVP award (over Durant)
  • Stephen Curry wins the Finals MVP (over Durant)
  • A different team wins the NBA Finals (over the Warriors)
  • Rudy Gobert or DeMarcus Cousins make the All-NBA Team (over Jokic or Towns)
  • Lonzo Ball wins Rookie of the Year (over Simmons)

Following these award races will be one of many facets making the upcoming 2017-18 NBA season fun for the fans. Thank you for reading this piece! Hopefully you had half as much fun reading it as I did putting it all together. Drop a comment if you either strongly agree or vehemently disagree with the above projections, either below or via Twitter @NBAStatsLab.

 

paulfpa@outlook.com

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