ESPN released its awards picks for the 2019-20 season, in light of the NBA’s announcement that it expects to approve a return to play at Thursday’s Board of Governors meeting. The restart plan figures to include additional regular-season games, but given the long layoff, the majority of awards ballots won’t change much between now and the start of the postseason.
As expected, the Clippers figure prominently in the Sixth Man of the Year discussion. The back-to-back reigning Sixth Man, Lou Williams, earned 29 percent of the first-place votes from ESPN’s forecast panel. Meanwhile, Montrezl Harrell remains the favorite and finished first in the voting with 35 percent of first-place votes. There have been fears among Clippers fans that the two would cannibalize votes and allow a third challenger to sneak in for the victory, and Dennis Schröder poses a legitimate threat with 24 percent of first-place votes in this exercise. Still, the odds are in the Harrell’s favor to emerge with his first Sixth Man of the Year award.
In the remaining categories, Doc Rivers was in “others receiving votes” for Coach of the Year. Kawhi Leonard also received votes for both Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year, presumably behind other candidates because he played fewer games this season. The most surprising Clipper in the ESPN ballot was Patrick Beverley coming in fourth place for DPOY. No one would suggest that Beverley has been a more impactful defender for the Clippers than Leonard, and Beverley has played almost 350 fewer minutes than Leonard, so seeing him ahead of Leonard in the voting is surprising.
Who do you think is the more deserving Defensive Player of the Year candidate?
On to the news...
- An interesting feature from SI about Chris Serafino, a Clippers fan who worked on the Clippers social media team while the franchise was still owned by Donald Sterling.
- The L.A. Times checked in with former Clipper Moe Harkless and learned how he’s been spending his quarantine in Venice, California.
- Rivers has asked luminaries in their field to speak on the Clippers weekly Zoom calls, and he has been in demand as well. There’s a good reason why.
- Here are the latest updates on the NBA’s return-to-play scenarios.
- And finally, the NBA has spoken out in support of racial justice in response to the George Floyd protests around the country, including Adam Silver.
- Among the Clippers, Rivers released a statement against the “senseless acts of racial injustice” and encouraged people to use their voices and their votes. Williams donated $25,000 to finance bail for Atlanta-based protestors. Paul George made a statement of his own about working towards change. We’ve been talking about “Blackballed” over the last two weeks (Alicia recapped the final episodes), and the messages the Clippers took from that moment in their history certainly resonate to this day.