Winners Of NBA Awards. What Was The Biggest Surprise?

July 1, 2021

The 2020-2021 season in the National Basketball Association (NBA) has only just reached the Conference Finals, but it has already been one of the most spectacular and sensational in terms of its results.

The Atlanta Hawks and the Phoenix Suns, who were not even in the top 10 nominees for getting the Larry O’Brien Trophy nominees and championship rings before the start of the regular season, both finished in the top 4 of the NBA. Also, the Los Angeles Clippers are in the Conference Finals for the first time in fifty years.

The NBA’s major awards are slowly finding their heroes. The names of the award winners are already known:

  • KIA MVP;
  • KIA Rookie Ladder;
  • KIA Most Improved;
  • KIA Six Man;
  • KIA Defensive Player of the Year;
  • Coach of the Year award;
  • Basketball Executive of the Year award;
  • Sportsmanship award;
  • Teammate of the Year.

Stay tuned to find out who has won the NBA’s top awards and why. Onwards!


The Maurice Podoloff Trophy went to Denver for Nuggets center Nikola Jokic. The Serbian became the first player in Denver and his own country’s history to be awarded the KIA MVP. 

In general, it is rare for European players to win this award. Before Jokic, only German Dirk Nowitzki and Greek Giannis Antetokounmpo had achieved such an honor.

In the KIA MVP voting, Nikola beat out Philadelphia Sixers center Joel Embiid and Golden State guard Stephen Curry. The Maurice Podoloff Trophy winner was chosen by a panel of 100 journalists and broadcasters, as well as NBA fans. This was Jokic’s sixth season in the NBA. The Serbian did not miss a single game (72) in the 2020/2021 regular season. Nikola’s stats on actions per game average the following:

  • 26.4 points;
  • 10.9 rebounds;
  • 8.4 assists;
  • 1.32 steals.

During the regular season, Jokic was named the West Men’s Basketball Player of the Month twice and the West Men’s Basketball Player of the Week three times. For the third consecutive year, Nikola participated in the NBA All-Star Game.

The Serbian’s personal best allowed Denver to play well in the regular season. Winning 47 of their 72 games, the Nuggets finished in third place. However, Nikola’s team made it far in the playoffs. After defeating Portland with a 4-2 score in the first round, Denver could not oppose the Phoenix, the NBA’s biggest sensation of the season. The Suns won the series with a devastating score of 4-0.

KIA Rookie Ladder

LaMelo Ball, a 19-year-old American from the Charlotte Hornets, won the Eddie Gottlieb Award as the NBA Rookie of the Year. The young point guard finished first among all NBA rookies in steals and assists and second in scoring and rebounding.

Feel free to check average Ball’s scoring statistics:

  • 15.7 points;
  • 5.9 rebounds;
  • 6.1 assists;
  • 1.59 steals.

LaMelo’s personal success was not enough for Charlotte to make it to the playoffs. With 33 wins in the regular season, the Hornets ranked tenth. In the playoffs, Charlotte lost to Indiana.

KIA Most Improved

New York Knicks forward Julius Randle is the most improved player of the 2020/2021 NBA season. The KIA Most Improved Award is given to a basketball player who has shown off his great potential, making significant progress compared to the previous season.

Julius plates his seventh year in the NBA. In 2020/2021, he was invited to the All-Star Game for the first time.

Averagely, here are Randle’s starts on scoring per game:

  • 24.1 points;
  • 10.2 rebounds;
  • 6.0 assists.

With the most advanced player in the NBA on their board, New York performed well in the regular season. With 41 wins, the Knicks finished fourth in the Eastern Conference.

In the first round of playoffs, Julius’s team sensationally lost to the future conference finalist Atlanta Hawks, having won only one match of the series.

KIA Six-Man

Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson became the most valuable replacement player in the current NBA season. No other Utah basketball player has ever won the award before.

Clarkson’s statistics for scoring per game are on average like the following:

  • 18.4 points;
  • 4.0 rebounds;
  • 2.5 assists.

Jordan as a substitutor helped Utah win the regular-season title in the Eastern Conference. The Jazz received a victory over Memphis with a 4-1 score in the first round of the playoffs, but Clarkson and his team, in particular, were powerless against the Los Angeles Clippers (4-2) in the Conference Semifinals.

Kia Defensive Player of the Year

Another Utah basketball player won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award — Rubi Gobert. For the French player, it is the third award of this kind. Previously, Gobert was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year two years in a row in the 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 seasons.

Please check the average of Rudi’s stats per match:

  • 14.3 points;
  • 13.5 rebounds;
  • 2.5 assists.

Gobert was the NBA’s season leader in rebounding (960). The Frenchman’s field goal percentage is 67.5, which is also the best in the league.

Coach of the Year award

Tom Thibodeau was the New York Knicks coach of the year for the second time in his NBA career, thus beating out Monty Williams, the manager of one of the biggest sensations of the current season, namely, the Phoenix Suns, and Quin Snyder, Utah coach, in the voting.

Under Thibodeau’s leadership, New York won the 41-st regular-season title in the Eastern Conference. As mentioned in the Julius Randle story, the Knicks were prevented from advancing to the Conference Semifinals by Atlanta.

Basketball Executive of the Year award

Phoenix Suns general manager James Jones is recognized as the best general manager in the NBA for the 2020/2021 season. With his help, the team was able to rebound in a spectacular fashion after its failure the year before, when the Phoenix finished tenth in the Western Conference and failed to make it to the playoffs.

This season, the Suns have finished second in the West, knocked out the reigning NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs, defeated Denver with a 4-0 score in the Conference Semifinals, and have already taken the series lead against the Los Angeles Clippers in the Conference Finals.

Jones’ key decisions before the start of the 2020/2021 season were the signings of guard Chris Paul and forward Jae Crowder, who have become symbols of the Phoenix’s resurgence from the ashes.

Sportsmanship award

The best sportsmanship ideals in the NBA were demonstrated on the court by Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday.

Here are Jrue’s statistics on scaring average per game:

  • 17.7 points;
  • 4.5 rebounds;
  • 6.1 assists.

With Holiday in the lineup, Milwaukee finished in the top 3 of the regular season in the East and made it to the Conference Finals. Bookmakers consider the Bucks to be among the top contenders for the NBA championship this season.

Teammate of the Year

Portland guard Damian Lillard won the Twyman-Stokes Award as the NBA Teammate of the Year. 

Lillard’s statistics for scoring average per game are as follows:

  • 28.8 points;
  • 4.2 rebounds;
  • 7.5 assists.

Dedicated play and leadership on and off the court helped Portland finish sixth in the Western Conference. The Trail Blazers didn’t make it to the playoffs. In the first round, they lost to Denver with a 4-2 score.


NBA fans and sports betting enthusiasts are left to wait for the outcome of the decisive games of the season. Follow the results of the Conference Finals and NBA Finals on the National Basketball Association website in the section with the same name.

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