The NBA and its fans love awards.
The league loves handing them out, and the fans and media love talking and debating about them all season long. From the All-NBA and All-Rookie teams to the slew of individual honors handed out at the end of the season, there are a bunch of different trophies up for grabs every season.
However, there are a few more I’d like to add.
The league has some other outstanding performers and contributors who deserve year-end recognition but often fall between the cracks of the existing structure. Some of these proposed new categories are related to the players on the court while others shine a light on facets that make the league so special.
Here are the new prizes, along with my picks for who could win them in 2019-20:
Every year, the media votes on the All-NBA Teams and the All-Defensive Team, which honor the best all-around players and the best stoppers, respectively.
What about picking the absolute best offensive weapons from that season?
The “All-Offense Team” would honor those who have the greatest impact on their teams’ scoring, though this award shouldn’t be limited simply to the best bucket-getters and playmakers. Those who make a major impact via screens, rim-rolling gravity, shooting gravity or offensive rebounding should get consideration as well.
Sure, sometimes offensive players get too much All-NBA glory and votes even though their subpar defense drags down their overall impact. The All-Offense squad gives voters a chance to give them props without having to overrate them in the All-NBA discussion. Defense is totally disregarded in the selection process.
My initial predictions for this award seem a bit chalky, but I could also see less-heralded weapons like C.J. McCollum or Al Horford getting consideration due to their tremendous value on offense.
Guard – James Harden, Houston Rockets
Guard – Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Guard/Big – Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers
Big – LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
Big – Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
Assistant Coach of the Year
The league’s best assistant coaches should get more widespread kudos. These guys toil behind the scenes, scouring through film, working on individual player development and trying to actualize the head coach’s vision. Some of the most valuable assistant coaches serve as offensive or defensive “coordinators” and are the architects of the game plan.
Occasionally, we’ll hear stories or scoops about how certain assistants helped unlock a team or player’s potential. How awesome would it be to shine a spotlight on them more often? The players could make nominations and their cases for candidates, then the media could vote on the choices.
Preseason Pick: Darvin Ham, Milwaukee Bucks (LINK)
Honorable Mentions: Becky Hammon, San Antonio Spurs; Dan Craig, Miami Heat
Most Clutch Player
You’ve heard of the MVP award. How about the M-C-P? The winner of this award might not be the best player on his team, and he might not even be on a legitimate championship contender.
But it’s all about who lifted his team the most in crucial late-game situations.
This subject is always great for water-cooler debates. Should the award be heavily based on analytics, such as “most game-winning field-goals with X seconds remaining,” or “best field-goal percentage with X minutes left and an X-point margin?” Or should the situation and subjective circumstances on the court be a major factor?
I’ll leave it up to the players, coaches and media to share the voting clout in this one. This could turn into one of the most prestigious awards in the league, one that contenders would take pride in. After showing a few glimpses of clutch wizardry as a rookie, Luka Doncic could steal the 2019-2020 MCP honors as his leadership of the Dallas Mavericks grows.
Preseason pick: Luka Doncic
Honorable mentions: Damian Lillard, Kawhi Leonard, Bradley Beal
Owner / governor of the Year
Sensationalism and dramatic stories are prevalent in today’s media, so the NBA governors who get the most publicity are the most demonstrative or vociferous (i.e. Mark Cuban/Steve Ballmer), the most famous (i.e. Michael Jordan) or the most detrimental or controversial (i.e. James Dolan).
Let’s try to find the best one for a change. Voters could choose the owner who made wise front office upgrades, monumental arena/media decisions or empowered their teams in a special way. The ones who made their organization, city and the league better deserve some hardware.
Preseason Pick: Gail Miller, Utah Jazz
Honorable Mentions: Joseph Tsai, Brooklyn Nets; Marc Lasry/Wesley Edens, Milwaukee Bucks
Which player is consistently the best interviewee in the NBA? This is quite the subjective decision, so the winners could be among the most insightful, entertaining or unique.
Pre-game, mid-game and post-game interviews and press conferences are a mandatory part of every NBA team’s media obligations. We might as well encourage players to be as witty and interesting as they’d like. And if some players compete for this accolade by giving thoughtful, funny or unpredictable quotes, then we all win.
Guys like Joel Embiid, Boban Marjanovic, Draymond Green and countless others are already extremely entertaining, but can you imagine if they knew there was a season-end recognition for being one of the best interviewees?
Guard– Spencer Dinwiddie
Guard– Klay Thompson
Guard/Big– Zion Williamson
Big – Enes Kanter
Big – Joel Embiid
Best Local Broadcast
There is an extremely wide range of quality in the local broadcast crews across the NBA. In fact, there’s a canyon-like gap between the worst and the best.
The top broadcasts are great at balancing entertainment and on-court analysis. Watching them is exciting and informative at the same time, and they keep you tuning back in for more. Meanwhile, the worse ones aren’t versatile, and they’re often so biased that it’s hard for opposing fans or league-wide fans to watch.
This award would honor the absolute best broadcast crew, from the on-air talent to everyone involved in the production. It would be interesting to see who the media would choose from year to year (provided local beat writers wouldn’t be able to vote for their city/network).
Preseason Pick: Minnesota Timberwolves (FOX Sports North)
Honorable Mentions: Brooklyn Nets (YES Network), Dallas Mavericks (FSN Southwest)
All-National Broadcast Team
The most familiar voices in national NBA broadcasting are often polarizing. Many fans and media crow about how exciting play-by-play announcers like Mike Breen and Kevin Harlan are, and there are varying strong opinions about analysts such as TNT’s Reggie Miller and Charles Barkley, or ESPN’s Paul Pierce.
Let’s put together an “All-Star” national broadcast crew.
Though this award might get old after a few years of well-deserving repeat winners, the NBA should start it in 2020 anyway. The following predictions are my personal preference, though voters may disagree:
Studio Host: Rachel Nichols
Studio Analysts: Jalen Rose and Candace Parker
Play-by-Play: Mike Breen
Color Commentator: Doris Burke
Sideline Reporter: Israel Gutierrez
Dan is a TBW staff writer. After playing college ball at Franciscan University, he covered the NBA and NBA Draft for Bleacher Report for four years and the FRS Network for three years. He now co-hosts the Unlimited Range podcast and continues to campaign for Doris Burke’s promotion to lead analyst at ESPN. Follow him on Twitter: @DanO_Bball