The NBA announced the winners for their annual regular season awards with Nikola Jokic headlining the group by taking home the 2020-21 Kia NBA Most Valuable Player Award.
Jokic set several firsts with his win, becoming the Denver Nuggets player to take home the honor as well as the first Serbian player to be selected as NBA MVP. Jokic also became the lowest drafted player (No. 41) overall to win the award. He had one of the greatest big-man seasons in league history, appearing in all 72 regular-season games and averaging 26.4 points, 10.9 rebounds and 8.4 assists to go along with 1.32 steals.
Despite missing 27 games, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James earned one fifth-place vote.
Rudy Gobert was named the 2020-21 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year, marking the third time he has won the award. Gobert becomes the fourth player in NBA history to be named DPOY three times, joining Dikembe Mutombo (4), Ben Wallace (4) and Dwight Howard (3).
Gobert led the league in defensive rebounds per game (10.1), total defensive rebounds (720) and total blocks (190) while also ranking second in averaged shots blocked per game (2.70). Kentavious Caldwell-Pope surprisingly made the ballot, earning one third-place vote, while Anthony Davis was left off completely due to injuries.
LaMelo Ball was named the 2021 Rookie of the Year in what was the last award announced. The No. 3 overall pick overcame a broken wrist that forced him to miss a significant amount of time, still winning the award over Anthony Edwards and Tyrese Haliburton.
Former Laker Julius Randle was named the 2020-21 Kia NBA Most Improved Player, a well-deserved selection as he was also named as a first-time NBA All-Star selection. Randle becomes the first New York Knicks player to be awarded Most Improved Player.
Randle nearly earned all 100 first-place votes, taking 98 while the Detroit Pistons’ Jerami Grant took the other two first-place votes. Randle averaged 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 6.0 assists while also leading the NBA in minutes per game with 37.6.
Another former Laker in Jordan Clarkson took home the 2020-21 Kia NBA Sixth Man Award, becoming the first Utah Jazz player to win the honors. Clarkson averaged a career-high 18.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists while also sinking a career-high 208 3-pointers.
Montrezl Harrell earned three second-place votes and five third-place votes.
Lastly, Tom Thibodeau received the Red Auerbach Trophy as the 2020-21 NBA Coach of the Year. This is the second time Thibodeau has won the award, his first coming during his first season with the Chicago Bulls.
Frank Vogel snubbed from Coach of the Year ballot
Even though the Lakers finished seventh, Frank Vogel should have received more consideration in the voting. Vogel led the Lakers to the league’s No. 1 defensive rated team despite injuries to James and Davis.
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