NBA

2020-21 NBA awards picks: Nikola Jokic unanimous MVP; experts don’t agree on Rookie of the Year, DPOY winners

After the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2020-21 regular-season finale on Sunday, LeBron James stated that Stephen Curry, in his opinion, should be this season’s MVP. Curry has a case. I voted him third. But he’s not going to win. That trophy already has Nikola Jokic’s name engraved. Or it should, at least.

Jokic was masterful this season, and as you’ll see below, every one of our writers picked him as the MVP. Another unanimous selection was Julius Randle for Most Improved Player. It’s hard to make a case for anyone else, honestly. What Randle has done as a shooter this season, he’s an entirely different player.

To me, the Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year races are the most interesting. For ROY, it’s either LaMelo Ball or Anthony Edwards, the latter of whom received just one first-place vote among our panelists.

Ball was the clear winner until a broken wrist cost him almost six weeks of action. During that time, Edwards took off. He was a flat-out scoring star post-All-Star break. I think a lot of people thought they had their minds made up, but Edwards made this interesting.

As for DPOY, Rudy Gobert, who got all but two of our staff’s first-place votes, and Ben Simmons represent a debate of preferences. Do you value rim protection or versatility? I’ve spoken with scouts about this topic, and most come back with rim protection as the more valued defensive offering for the simple reason that one rim protector, like Gobert, can anchor an entire defense, while even the best perimeter defenders need wingmen who can unlock the switching schemes that dominate today’s game. 

With that, below are our CBS Sports staff’s top five picks for MVP and top three picks for Rookie of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Most Improved Player, Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year. 

Most Valuable Player

Rookie of the Year

Defensive Player of the Year  

Sixth Man of the Year  

Most Improved Player  

Coach of the Year

First Second Third

Bill Reiter

Tom Thibodeau (NY)

Monty Williams (PHO)

Nate McMillan (ATL)

Brad Botkin

Tom Thibodeau (NY)

Monty Williams (PHO)

Quin Snyder (UTA)

James Herbert

Tom Thibodeau (NY)

Quin Snyder (UTA)

Monty Williams (PHO)

Sam Quinn

Tom Thibodeau (NY)

Steve Nash (BKN)

Mike Malone (DEN)

Colin Ward-Henninger

Quin Snyder (UTA)

Tom Thibodeau (NY)

Monty Williams (PHO)

Jasmyn Wimbish

Monty Williams (PHO)

Tom Thibodeau (NY)

Quin Snyder (UTA)

Michael Kaskey-Blomain

Monty Williams (PHO)

Tom Thibodeau (NY)

Doc Rivers (PHI)

Jack Maloney

Monty Williams (PHO)

Tom Thibodeau (NY)

Doc Rivers (PHI)

Executive of the Year

First Second Third

Bill Reiter

Daryl Morey (PHI)

James Jones (PHO)

Travis Schlenk (ATL)

Brad Botkin

James Jones (PHO)

Travis Schlenk (ATL)

Daryl Morey (PHI)

James Herbert

Sean Marks (BKN)

Daryl Morey (PHI)

James Jones (PHO)

Sam Quinn

Sam Presti (OKC)

Daryl Morey (PHI)

Sean Marks (BKN)

Colin-Ward Henninger

Sean Marks (BKN)

Daryl Morey (PHI)

James Jones (PHO)

Jasmyn Wimbish

James Jones (PHO)

Daryl Morey (PHI)

Sean Marks (BKN)

Michael Kaskey-Blomain

Sean Marks (BKN)

Daryl Morey (PHI)

James Jones (PHO)

Jack Maloney

Sean Marks (BKN)

Daryl Morey (PHI)

James Jones (PHO)


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