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NBA First Quarter Awards

With almost every team reaching the 20 games played mark, the NBA season is just about a quarter done. Let's take a look at the major awards and the most deserving players so far (this is not who I think is going to win, this is who DESERVES it at this point). Feel free to disagree there are valid arguments that can be made for many players at this point of the season.

Stats through 11/25/18 courtesy of, PIE: Player Impact Estimate courtesy of, RPM: Real Plus Minus courtesy of, BPM: Box Score Plus Minus courtesy of

Most Improved Player

Derrick Rose - PG | Minnesota Timberwolves

Photo courtesy of — by Sean Taira
Photo courtesy of — by Sean Taira

18 GP | 19.5 PPG | 3.6 RPG | 4.6 APG | 0.6 SPG | 0.2 BPG

49.2% FG% | 47.8% 3PT% | 85.5% FT% | 59.1% TS%

13.6 PIE | 0.58 RPM | 1.1 BPM

Admittedly I have doubted much of what Rose has done this season expecting him to regress to what we've seen the last few seasons but I might have to eat some crow. It is a small sample size but Rose is shooting almost 48% from three, his previous career high was 34.0% back in 2014. Similarly his true shooting percentage is up to 59.1%, besting his second best 55% in his 2011 MVP season. It's highly unlikely that he can keep it up and he still is awful defensively, but for a guy that looked like he might be out of the league, he deserves some credit for his play this season.

Just Missed: Josh Richardson, Pascal Siakam, De'Aaron Fox, Domatas Sabonis, JaVale McGee

6th Man of the Year

Montrezl Harrell - F/C | Los Angeles Lakers

photo courtesy of — by Sean Taira
photo courtesy of — by Sean Taira

19 GP | 15.8 PPG | 7.4 RPG | 1.5 APG | 1.1 SPG | 1.8 BPG

64.1% FG% | 0.0% 3PT% | 67.8% FT% | 67.2% TS%

16.2 PIE | 2.93 RPM | 7.0 BPM

Part of the reason that the Clippers were willing to let DeAndre Jordan walk was the development of Harrell. Playing as an undersized center and power forward, Harrell continues to improve as a finisher and a rim protector. In 103 attempts, Harrell is allowing opponents to shoot 55.3% at the rim, a number better than notables names such as Clint Capela, Anthony Davis, and Rudy Gobert. Expect Harrell to continue to improve and get more playing time as the season goes on.

Just Missed: Lou Williams, Enes Kanter, Domantas Sabonis, Jae Crowder, Dennis Schroeder

Defensive Player of the Year

Anthony Davis - C | New Orleans Pelicans

photo courtesy of — by Sean Taira
photo courtesy of — by Sean Taira

16 GP | 1.6 SPG | 2.7 BPG | 58.0% DFG less than 6ft.

3.00 DRPM | 3.6 DBPM

The early leader for defensive player of the year is Anthony Davis, but the award is completely up for grabs. So far there are a lot of deserving candidates and a case can be made for Giannis, Millsap, Embiid, Draymond, Gasol, Gobert, Whiteside, Covington, and many others. Davis leads the NBA in blocks per game, and the Pelicans are 3.9 points (per 100 possessions) better defensively with Davis on the court. Expect this race to remain tight throughout the season.

Just missed: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Paul Millsap, Draymond Green, Robert Covington, Hassan Whiteside

Rookie of the Year

1. Luka Doncic - F | Dallas Mavericks

photo courtesy of — by Sean Taira
photo courtesy of — by Sean Taira

18 GP | 19.1 PPG | 6.6 RPG | 4.3 APG | 0.9 SPG | 0.2 BPG

45.3% FG% | 39.6% 3PT% | 78.1% FT% | 57.3% TS%

12.1 PIE | 0.18 RPM | 0.6 BPM

The early returns on this seasons batch of rookies are extremely promising, and the rookie of the year race is shaping up to be competitive throughout the whole year. If you throw on a random Mavericks game and watch Luka Doncic for a few possessions, it's hard to fathom that he's only 19. His ability to create for his teammates is excellent, and he has a plethora of moves around the basket and to create space for step backs.

2. DeAndre Ayton - C | Phoenix Suns

19 GP | 16.9 PPG | 10.4 RPG | 2.8 APG | 0.6 SPG | 0.7 BPG

62.4% FG% | 0.0% 3PT% | 75.0% FT% | 64.4% TS%

14.8 PIE | -0.46 RPM | 2.2 BPM

Ayton's predraft scouting report suggested that he would be a force on the offensive end of the floor, but struggle defensively. Through the first 19 games Ayton has actually posted a positive defensive real plus minus rating, a negative offensive one. The fact that Ayton is holding his own on the defensive end of the floor is exciting for his long term outlook.

3. Jaren Jackson Jr. - F | Memphis Grizzlies

19 GP | 13.1 PPG | 4.6 RPG | 1.5 APG | 1.1 SPG | 2.2 BPG

51.9% FG% | 34.9% 3PT% | 72.4% FT% | 59.1% TS%

11.2 PIE | 0.50 RPM | 3.5 BPM

Jackson might not have the same raw numbers as Trae Young or Collin Sexton, but he has been a big part of the Grizzlies hot start (along with the return Mike Conley of course). Jackon has been excellent defensively, and is shooting the three at a respectable percentage which creates much needed space the the Grizzlies.

Just missed: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Trae Young, Collin Sexton, Wendell Carter


1. Giannis Antetokounmpo - F | Milwaukee Bucks

photo courtesy of — by Sean Taira
photo courtesy of — by Sean Taira

18 GP | 27.2 PPG | 13.0 RPG | 5.7 APG | 1.4 SPG | 1.2 BPG

57.7% FG% | 11.1% 3PT% | 68.1% FT% | 61.8% TS%

20.5 PIE | 3.27 RPM | 8.5 BPM

Last season under the tutelage of Jason Kidd and Joe Prunty, the Bucks eecked into the playoffs as a seven seed, and lost in the first round to a Celtics team missing Kyrie Irving. This season the Bucks brought back mostly the same cast with new coach Mike Budenhozer and currently have the second best record in the NBA. Aside from his three point shooting, Giannis is completely unstoppable and the Bucks have emerged as a legitimate title contender.

2. Joel Embiid - C | Philadelphia 76ers

22 GP | 28.1 PPG | 13.3 RPG | 3.5 APG | 0.5 SPG | 2.0 BPG

47.4% FG% | 31.6% 3PT% | 80.9% FT% | 59.0% TS%

20.1 PIE | 4.41 RPM | 3.7 BPM

Embiid hasn't quite shown the same defensive dominance that he displayed last season, which takes him down just a notch. The addition of Jimmy Butler was sorely needed, as Embiid might have been the only guy on the roster that could constantly create his own shot. Embiid is drawing a league leading 8.3 fouls per game and is impossible to handle down low.

3. LeBron James - F | Los Angeles Lakers

19 GP | 28.3 PPG | 7.9 RPG | 6.9 APG | 1.3 SPG | 0.9 BPG

52.2% FG% | 38.6% 3PT% | 72.5% FT% | 61.8% TS%

19.9 PIE | 5.95 RPM | 8.6 BPM

After a slow star the Lakers and LeBron have been heating up, finding themselves in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. With the improvement of the Grizzlies, Clippers, Mavericks, and Kings, 14 teams are separated by just 4.5 games and LeBron can't put it on cruise control during the regular season. Showing no signs of slowing down, there's no reason to think that LeBron won't be in the MVP conversation just like always.

4. Kemba Walker - PG | Charlotte Hornets

19 GP | 28.2 PPG | 4.2 RPG | 6.6 APG | 1.2 SPG | 0.4 BPG

45.5% FG% | 38.6 3PT% | 86.6% FT% | 59.4% TS%

16.5 PIE | 4.32 RPM | 6.1 BPM

Already responsible for two forty point games and one sixty burger, Kemba is carrying the Hornets offensively. When your second best player is a debate between Cody Zeller, Marvin Williams or Nicolas Batum, it makes Kemba's MVP case that much stronger. Severely underrated his whole career if Kemba can lead the Hornets to the playoffs, there might be some legitimate MVP buzz.

5. Anthony Davis - C | New Orleans Pelicans

16 GP | 27.0 PPG | 12.6 RPG | 4.9 APG | 1.5 SPG | 2.7 BPG

49.0% FG% | 35.3% 3PT% | 78.7% FT% | 57.8% TS%

17.8 PIE | 5.95 RPM | 8.0 BPM

Health and team success are the only things that are keeping Anthony Davis from a MVP. Constantly nicked up, Davis has already missed four games this season with various ailments. Keeping AD healthy is obviously the number one priority for the Pelicans and they need 100% if they want to build on last seasons post season success.

Just Missed - Steph Curry, Marc Gasol, Kyle Lowry, Kyrie Irving, Nikola Jokic