MVP: Joel Embiid
This one should’ve been obvious enough. Since being drafted #3 overall back in 2014, it was pretty clear the 76ers had something special on their hands. In 2018, Embiid saw an increase in production at almost every level of the game. His scoring went up, his rebounding went up, his shot-blocking went up, even his assists went up. The 76ers live and die through “JoJo”, barring any serious injury issues (which can be a concern with the big guy sometimes), expect another extremely dominant year from the Sixers franchise center.
Defensive Player of the Year: Ben Simmons
This award could have easily gone to Embiid as well considering he averages 2 blocks per game, but I’m feeling a little bold so let’s hand it over to Simmons. With the departure of Jimmy Butler, the need for a true lockdown perimeter defender is at an all-time high this season. With Simmons’ elite level quickness and size, he’s a player who can guard positions 1-5 with ease, making him an incredibly versatile defensive asset. Seeing as guys like Kawhi Leonard, Lebron James, and Giannis Antetokounmpo will all eventually need to be shut down, Simmons is set up for a monster year defensively.
Most Improved Player of the Year: Tobias Harris
Harris hasn’t averaged under 15 points per game since wayyy back in 2015. With that said, despite some scary efficient shooting numbers, Harris has yet to land himself in an NBA All-Star game. Coming into 2019, with the departure of both Butler and JJ Redick, someone is going to have to step up and add a little extra in the scoring department. I believe that responsibility will fall on Harris, he’ll take it and run with it, launching himself firmly into his first career All-Star game.
Sixth Man of the Year: Mike Scott
Scott’s numbers off the bench this year won’t be too crazy, but his general spark and ability to knock down the long ball will no doubt be important to the team’s success this season. Scott shot a career-best 41.2% from beyond the arc with Philadelphia in 2018, a trend I expect to continue.
The Fan Favorite Award aka the “T.J. McConnell Award”: Matisse Thybulle
With the goal of paying my respects to “Process-Era Sixers” legend TJ McConnell, the Fan Favorite Award for the 2019 season is being handed over to Matisse Thybulle. While many fans were initially frustrated at passing up on Carsen Edwards for a less flashy name in Thybulle, the young wing player has quickly changed our minds. After flat out dominating defensively in preseason, expect Thybulle’s pure grit and hustle to have you swooning all season long.
The “I Wish You Weren’t on the Roster” Award: James Ennis
Not only did Ennis possibly jinx the entire team by saying the 76ers “are going to walk to the Finals” (nj.com), but he’s simply just not that good. Despite putting up decent enough numbers off the bench during the regular season for Philly, Ennis dropped off massively come playoff time. He shot 63% from the free-throw line, 28% from three, and rarely created opportunities for his teammates (averaging just 1.1 assists per game). He seems very much like an “I gotta get mine” kind of player, don’t like him.
The “Deserves More Minutes” Award: Shake Milton
Entering into 2019, the backup point guard battle is expected to be ripe with competition (check out my take on that positional battle: here). Between Milton, Raul Neto, Trey Burke, and maybe even some Josh Richardson here or there, backup PG minutes will have to be rationed out carefully. At just 23 years old and in his first “real” season, Milton may get the short end of the stick on this one. Not only was Shake one of the top scorers in the entire G-League last year (24.9ppg), but he’s also 6’ 6” with a 7’ wingspan. He absolutely should see some extra minutes this season with those credentials.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports