Biggest Riser & Faller Post-Bubble NBA Awards
With the conference finals underway the NBA released it’s all NBA team selections-awards voted on by the media in an attempt to distill the best players of every season:
First: LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic, Anthony Davis, James Harden
Second: Damian Lillard, Kawhi Leonard, Nikola Jokic, Chris Paul, Pascal Siakam
Third: Ben Simmons, Jayson Tatum, Jimmy Butler, Rudy Gobert, Russell Westbrook
While normally there is little debate around these teams besides the third team where there are the most cuts, media members were forced to vote before play resumed in the NBA Bubble. While most fans, and people on Twitter for that matter, don’t understand context, I had no issues with these teams because I know that this list is based on play from October to March. That being said, if these teams were voted on after the season, which they should be, there would be some obvious risers and fallers.
Jayson Tatum: The Celtics forward earned third-team honors in only his third season, an impressive feat, but he would be second-team All-NBA if his bubble play had been taken into account. Tatum was a flamethrower for the last six weeks of the pre-COVID season, averaging close to 30 points per game and sending after struggling earlier where he was admittedly forcing the issue trying to make his first All-Star game. That play carried over into the bubble and the playoffs where Tatum’s playmaker has made a clear leap with him averaging a 25-10-4.
Pascal Siakam: It was a real debate over the course of the season about whether you would want Tatum or Siakam on your team. And quite honestly for the start of the regular season, you would have probably wanted Siakam. It felt like we were going to get clarity when their teams, the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics, met in the second round and we definitely did. While Tatum had some rough moments he still was able to keep up his All-Star production despite a drop in efficiency due to the Raptors tight defense, Siakam crumbled. Struggling against Boston’s litany of high-level wing defenders Siakam only average a 15-7 with a putrid 38% shooting from the field.
It seems genuinely silly that the NBA gives out this litany of awards before the post-season is completed. As we have seen some people like Giannis Antetokounmpo are more built for the playoffs where others like Jimmy Butler show up when the lights are bright. I’m not sure the format will ever change but it should.