For the first time ever, the NBA is hosting a big end-of-season awards show to announce the winners of everything from MVP to Executive of the Year to the All-NBA teams. The votes have already come in — they were due on the Friday before the playoffs began — but the results won’t be announced for another two months, until the big reveal on June 26.
But this year’s end-of-season awards also feature another first: Fans will have a say. And they can start having their say right now.
The NBA announced nominees on Thursday for six new awards that will be decided exclusively by fan voting: Dunk of the Year, Best Style, Block of the Year, Assist of the Year, Game-Winner of the Year and Top Performance of the Year.
Fans can vote on NBA.com, but also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by including the corresponding hashtag for one of the awards: #DunkOfTheYear, #BestStyle, #BlockOfTheYear, #GameWinnerOfTheYear, #TopPerformanceOfTheYear, #AssistOfTheYear — along with a player’s first and last name.
Here are the nominees, plus out picks for the winners:
Dunk Of The Year
The Pick: Let’s not overthink this. It’s Nance Jr., and has been ever since he hung in the air like a statue towering over one of the league’s better shot-blockers. Everybody in the arena knew right away. That includes Brooklyn’s bench. It also includes Nance, who was in disbelief over what he had done to poor Brook Lopez. LaVine should be a somewhat close, but not too close, second. Oladipo’s would’ve been in contention had he thrown down that same dunk over 2011 Dwight Howard.
The Pick: I feel wholly unqualified to make this pick, so let’s give it to Shumpert. As special as it’d be to see Westbrook take home the first-ever MVP/All-NBA first team/Best Style trifecta in NBA history, Wade and Westbrook already have claimed and will claim their fair share of accolades. Let’s spread the love and go with Shumpert.
Block Of The Year
The Pick: The Porzingis block is just absurd. Absolutely absurd. The Whiteside one is slightly less absurd but still very, very absurd. But… Kawhi.
Give Kawhi all of the awards. Every single one of them that’s at least within reason. He’s the second best player in the league. The end-of-game sequence against the Rockets was his season and MVP candidacy in a nutshell. It’s a stunning 10 seconds to win a game against the third best team in the league. Leonard should be the slight favorite here, by the thinnest of margins over Porzingis.
Game-Winner Of The Year
The Pick: This might be the toughest call of the six. The narrative surrounding Irving’s shot, and the stage it happened on (arguably the biggest of the regular season), are tempting. Westbrook’s was the most momentous, and was part of a historic season. But I’ll take Ulis because of the improbability. With five seconds left, Phoenix was down two. Somehow it won by three in regulation. The combination of the Eric Bledsoe layup, the steal and Ulis’ stepback dagger make it the best choice — though no arguments here if you go with Westbrook.
Top Performance Of The Year
The Pick: This should come down to Westbrook vs. Harden. And as good as Harden was that night in Houston, the award should be Westbrook‘s. The Thunder were down 14 with just over six minutes left. Westbrook led them on a jaw-dropping comeback that climaxed with an off-balance, game-tying three in the final 10 seconds. Don’t go crazy over the counting stats, since Westbrook had five extra minutes; but do go crazy over what Westbrook did in the fourth quarter and OT. It was herculean.
Assist Of The Year
The Pick: It’s the Warriors play, and it’s not close.
There also appear to be a seventh and eighth award, #BestSocialGame and #BestPlayoffMoment, for which nominees have not yet been announced.
Here’s the full list of awards that will be presented at the awards show on June 26 (9 p.m. ET, TNT), with the awards voted on by fans in italics:
Most Valuable Player
Coach of the Year
Rookie of the Year
Most Improved Player
Executive of the Year
Defensive Player of the Year
Sixth Man Award
Teammate of the Year
Community Assist Award
Assist of the Year
Block of the Year
Dunk of the Year
Game-Winner of the Year
Performance of the Year
Best Social Game
Best Playoff Moment