Welcome folks, to the NBA One Monthies. It’s a night that fans and players alike look forward to for months–well, month–on end. Some say the One Monthies are the most famous of all awards of all time.
We’ve played 12,161 minutes of NBA basketball so far. That’s 202.7 hours. That’s 8.4 days. That means that we’ve reached the one-month mark by calendar and just over a week’s worth of continuous play in terms of game time. I should say that all that math might be wrong.
But I am not wrong that the one-month mark is where we can truly start to extrapolate some trends from the data. The early warning signs and the pleasant surprises actually have meaning now.
This year–well, month–we will be handing out these hoops awards in the theme of other music and movie awards. Let’s get to the categories.
Record of the Year
The Warriors have been the best team, but the Record of the Year goes to the Wizards. They are (near) the top of the East! They got rid of Westbrook, got deeper, and are a real team. This team is 10 deep with a solid group of role players to complement Brad Beal and Spencer Dinwiddie. Rui Hachimura and Thomas Bryant haven’t even played yet. They are young, but with the additions of KCP and Kuzma, they’ve added championship experience. We’ve been saying all this for weeks, but now it’s showing results.
Best New Artist
It’s a true bummer that Mobley is now out with an elbow injury. His two-way impact at such a young age is simply startling. His mile-long arms and defensive instincts affect every opposing drive. His quick feet allow him to retreat and then contest while remaining under control. On offense, He has a nearly unblockable mid-post fadeaway already. Like, he just walked into the league ready. In a game against the Celtics recently, he was the offensive focal point during a 19-point comeback. I’ve been very impressed.
Monty Williams and Wes Unseld Jr. are right up there in the competition. Williams has weathered a disastrous off-court story and a tough first week on the court to bring his team right back into the elite competition. Unseld has been the captain of the Wizards ship that I mentioned earlier. I had to give this to Billy Donovan because he has pulled the Chicago Bulls back to the top of the East while also balancing a quirky mix of parts. Javonte Green has been their best bench player. Patrick Williams and Coby White have barely played. Donovan has created an offensive system that has DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine both in the top 10 in scoring. A team with LaVine and Nikola Vucevic is also top 10 in defensive rating. That’s a good coaching job.
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
That’s right. The first real shocker of this awards evening. I wanted to give this honor to a role player so I had to look beyond the second star on most teams. That wasn’t hard to do with the Warriors. Draymond is that second star and he’s averaging an 8-8-7. With Klay Thompson still sidelined, the Warriors have asked Wiggins to be the other scorer and he’s responded. Not with Klay-like numbers, but still not bad. He’s shooting 49% from the field and 33% from three. Improving his two-point efficiency has been crucial to his ability to add that scoring punch. (Also shout out to Jordan Poole. If you weren’t shooting 29% from three, this could have been yours).
Fast and Furious All-Driver Team
This is a prestigious award that goes all the way back to last winter, MMH’s first. It’s the players that lead the league in drives to the hoop. These players are all ball-dominant wonders so it is no surprise they rank this high. Successful drives to the hoop crack and shatter defenses. Going back to Naismith, the easiest shot was a layup and now the drive has the bonus of creating openings for the new scoring efficiency, the three. This team of relentless drivers are the engines that power their teams’ offenses. Shout out to Ja Morant for scoring points on 61% of his drives. Also, shout out to Westbrook’s 9% turnover rate on his. His engine might be missing a carburetor or whatever engines have.
Castaway All-Isolation Team
This group is made up of the players with the highest percentage of isolation plays. Most of the names make a lot of sense. Based on this and the previous award, SGA is creating his own offense and he is getting to the hoop. In fact, his isolation percentage of 35 is 12% more than the fourth guy on this list. SGA is just doing work in obscurity out there in OKC. As a viewer, I am not a huge fan of isolation ball. James Harden has been my least favorite superstar to watch for the last eight years. Still, it is sport in one of its purest forms, asking the question, “I have the ball, I am going to try to score, can you stop me?”
Last year’s Sixth Man of the Year is shooting the third-most threes per game at 9.8. In 25 minutes per game, that’s quite the rate. His claim on this award comes from the fact that he’s shooting 25%!!. Add that to his 35% from the field overall and he might as well be closing one eye when he shoots. I mean, yikes.
Best Original Score
This award goes to my favorite dunk of the young season. Not a lot to write about here. And yes, I know this was in the pre-season. I just…it’s incredible.
If I have to choose one from the regular season, I have another nominee. This dunk by LeBron is great. The JETS he shows to chase this down is what truly makes it. He is in year 19 and he burns Jalen Green, a 19-year old superathlete. Granted, LeBron might have immediately hurt himself, but it’s still mind-blowing.
Golden State Warriors
This may all work out for them. Lord knows I’ve given them a lot of love. I’ve staked my good name on it, predicting they would make a finals run back in June. But it knocks the wind out of me when I think about the fact that they could have had LaMelo Ball, Franz Wagner, and Alperen Sengun in the last two drafts. Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, and James Wiseman might all blossom into something. Kuminga is showing that he can contribute here and there already. Having a year under Wiseman’s belt might help him to slow down. Again, I trust the team that drafted Steph, Klay, and Draymond, so perhaps in three years, we will not think that this was a franchise-altering mistake. On the other hand, have you seen LaMelo find open shooters? The crux of the argument is that some of those other players are putting up stats on bad to mid-level teams. The Warriors aspire to more than that, but they also want to be relevant in seven years without a long rebuilding process. So really, I don’t think this award is fair. But it’s a fascinating debate.
Ben Simmons…just kidding
Kyrie Irving….is it funny yet?
To all of those players that we are missing, whether it be temporary or for the season, we feel your absence. You have made our lives more exciting, both for our teams or against us, and we look forward to the time we can scream your name again.
Wow, what a night. I’d like to thank everyone for their contributions to the One Monthies. To all the nominees, we’re only a month in, you can get ‘em next time. To the winner, don’t get complacent. It’s a long season.