Published On: Thu, May 17th, 2018

Missing the cut: Honorable mentions for each NBA award

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The finalists for each of the NBA’s major year-end awards were announced on Wednesday night, and it’s hard to argue with who was given consideration.

But, there are other names who at least belong in the conversation for the 2017-18 hardware, even though they were left out in the cold with the nominations.

Here are some honorable mentions for each of the awards who just missed the cut.

Coach of the Year: Brett Brown, Philadelphia 76ers

It’s amazing what a few healthy bodies and some veteran leadership can do for a struggling organization with a not-so-stellar reputation.

Brown endured four years of “The Process” before ending up with a roster he could find success with. Having the appropriate pieces in place isn’t enough, though, as there has to be a respected voice behind the marching orders. Brown was that voice, and is worthy of recognition for helping increase Philly’s win total by 24 games. – Walder

Sixth Man of the Year: Will Barton, Denver Nuggets

Barton barely qualifies (he started 40 of 81 games), but the sixth-year guard made it difficult to leave him off the list, averaging 15.7 points, five boards, and 4.1 assists per game.

His reputation as a gunslinger didn’t change, but he continues to improve his efficiency, as his percentages across the board were career highs. He shot 45.2 percent from the field and hit 37 percent on 5.2 threes per game. – Saghir

Most Improved Player: Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons

Drummond looked lost at times during the 2016-17 season, but he righted the ship this year on the offensive side of the ball.

While he remained a monster rebounder, he averaged a career-high three assists per game and vastly improved his free-throw shooting. He’s still only hitting 60 percent from the stripe, but it’s a start. – Chick

Rookie of the Year: Kyle Kuzma, Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers’ top rookie wasn’t the second overall pick out of Chino Hills. Instead, he was a late-round sleeper who built momentum during an impressive stint in the Summer League and carried that over for 77 more games.

Kuzma ranked second among all rookies with 16.1 points, which was also a team high. He’s a building block the franchise should continue to put more emphasis on in the years ahead, and one they’re fortunate to have found as deep in the draft as they did. – Walder

Defensive Player of the Year: Al Horford, Boston Celtics

Horford didn’t necessarily get snubbed for a DPOTY nod considering who he was going up against, but he deserves an honorable mention.

Horford didn’t tear up the NBA in any metric, but he was the anchor of the Celtics’ league-best defense during the regular season, something that’s continued into the playoffs. – Chick

Most Valuable Player: Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

It’s easy to forget how great Lillard was this year after getting annihilated in the postseason, but the three-time All-Star led the overachieving Blazers to the third-best record in the jam-packed Western Conference. He finished fourth in the NBA in points with 26.9 to go along with 4.5 rebounds and 6.6 assists.

The Blazers were 9.1 points per 100 possessions better with the star guard on the floor. Lillard was heavily relied upon, finishing the year with a 30.6 usage percentage and could only depend on C.J. McCollum to help on the offensive end. – Saghir

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