National Basketball Association

Nick Wright's MVP, Rookie of the Year, Sixth Man and more NBA awards

May 18

The 2020-21 NBA regular season is in the books.

As we wait for the Play-In Tournament to determine the final NBA playoff field, Nick Wright of "First Things First" cast his ballot for the league's regular-season awards.

If you want to challenge the "First Things First" host's selections, feel free to drop him a note on Twitter @GetNickWright, but be prepared to bring more than advanced analytics!

Without further ado, here's how Wright filled out his ballot for the major regular-season awards:

Rookie of the Year: LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets

Season stats: 15.7 points per game, 6.1 assists per game, 5.9 rebounds per game

Runners-up: Anthony Edwards, Tyrese Haliburton

Wright's thoughts: "The obvious rookie of the year is LaMelo Ball. … LaMelo, despite the wrist injury, is going to run away with this award, and he absolutely should."

Defensive Player of the Year: Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers

Season stats: 1.6 steals per game, 0.6 blocks per game, 3.3 defensive win shares

Runners-up: Rudy Gobert, Bam Adebayo

Wright's thoughts: "The most impactful defensive player of the year was one Ben Simmons. We talk about what Ben can't do. We don't spend nearly enough time talking about what Ben can do. … He can credibly guard all five positions."

Sixth Man of the Year: Jordan Clarkson, Utah Jazz

Season stats: 18.4 PPG, 2.5 APG, 4.0 RPG

Runners-up: Jalen Brunson, Derrick Rose

Wright's thoughts: "This is Jordan Clarkson's award to win. … Congrats to him. He's been a critical player for the Jazz, who finished the year with the best record in the West. He should win the award."

Coach of the Year: Tom Thibodeau, New York Knicks

Season stats: 41 wins, 31 losses (2020 under David Fizdale: 21 wins, 45 losses)

Runners-up: Nate McMillan, Monty Williams

Wright's thoughts: "There's no better coach in basketball for this type of team ⁠– a team that's supposed to be bad. To squeeze the absolute most out of them, he's done a brilliant job."

Most Improved Player: Julius Randle, New York Knicks

Season stats: 24.1 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 6.1 APG (2020: 19.5 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 3.1 APG)

Runners-up: Michael Porter Jr., Jerami Grant

Wright's thoughts: "No one … thought that Julius Randle could ever be quite what he is this year. Having a sensational season. The Knicks are great defensively. He is their best offensive piece. They are the 4-seed in the East. I would be shocked if this award is not unanimous."

Most Valuable Player: Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns

Season stats: 16.4 PPG, 8.9 APG, 4.5 RPG

Runners-up: Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid

Wright's thoughts: "Chris Paul … This is my MVP ballot and, I will say, the correct ballot. This should be everyone's ballot."

For Wright's entire breakdown, check out the video below:

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