NBA award voting for the 2019-20 season has already come to a close. Because eight teams were not invited to Orlando for the restart, the league limited qualification for the major awards to the pre-hiatus games.
The Clippers did reasonably well in that phase of the voting. Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams are both finalists for Sixth Man of the Year (again), and Kawhi Leonard will presumably be named to first-team all-NBA, or second-team at worst. However, the team had no finalists for Defensive Player of the Year, despite excellent seasons from both Leonard and Patrick Beverley; Leonard finished outside the top three for MVP; and Doc Rivers was not recognized atop the ballot for Coach of the Year.
Now, the Clippers have one more chance to be recognized by the media for their play, this time for the seeding games alone. The NBA announced Tuesday that there will be a Player of the Seeding Games and two All-Seeding Games Teams. While MVP (or POSG?) is likely out of the question — see the player hitting the shot in the photo above for a leading candidate — Leonard and Paul George have made compelling cases for the first- and second teams.
Leonard checks in at seventh in points per game (29.4) and George is 11th with 25.2 points per seeding game. Leonard is sixth in net rating (+18.9) among players who have suited up for at least 20 minutes a night. Interestingly, Marcus Morris Sr. comes in fourth on that list. As of Monday, Leonard and George were sixth and ninth, respectively, in Kevin Pelton’s Wins Over Replacement Player (WARP), despite each player missing one game.
The eye test confirms that Leonard has been fantastic through the first six games, and he was particularly unguardable against Brooklyn, when he scored 39 points on 25 shot attempts and started off the second half with a personal 11-0 run. George has been less obviously excellent, as is often the case when anyone is compared to Leonard, but his true shooting percentage of 64.2% is insane. Only bigs who take all of their shots right next to the basket approach that figure.
It bears mentioning that the Clippers aren’t in this for the individual awards, especially for seeding games that have meant to little to nothing for the team’s playoff positioning, but it’s a cool effort by the league to assign greater importance to this stretch of play. And the Clippers have been good enough to get recognized. Here’s hoping they do.
My personal first team right now would be Devin Booker, Damian Lillard, James Harden, TJ Warren, and Kristaps Porzingis, just because the traditionalist in me needs to have a big. Leonard would be on the second team, along with one OKC player, one Raptor, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Michael Porter Jr. Let me know how vehemently you disagree.
More news for Wednesday:
- The “tiff” between Paul George and Damian Lillard was resolved earlier this week when George reached out to Lillard to clear the air. That’s probably best for everyone involved.
- Clippers consultant Ryan West, the son of Jerry West, has been hired by the Detroit Pistons as a scout, per reporting from James Edwards of The Athletic.
- Speaking of Jerry West, he spoke to Andy Bernstein about the Lakers and the Clippers, and his own personal history.
- Jovan Buha ranked each Clipper in order of importance to this year’s title pursuit.
- Marc Stein gives his annual list of the league’s best lefties. Alas, the Clippers’ lone lefty, Amir Coffey, did not make the cut.
- Ending on the subject of awards, Brian Windhorst did a straw poll of votes for Executive of the Year, and it seems like Lawrence Frank has a good chance of winning this season.