The 2021-22 NBA regular season is over.
You know what that means it’s time for? Well, of course it’s playoff time, baby! But I’m talking about the other thing. Yes, the awards!
Since the Phoenix Suns finished with…
-A league-best 64-18 record with the second closest team record-wise finishing EIGHT games behind them
-A better record on the road than any other team on their home court
-A league-leading +7.4 point differential
So, they should be a lock to get several trophies, right? Well, you would think but we all know the hate/disrespect/lack of credit that this great team has thrown on them. There are still a lot of people sleeping on them. I just don’t get it.
Any ways, a few of us decided to discuss this in-house, as Bright Siders got together to give some of our thoughts.
1 – Monty Williams absolutely HAS to get the media-voted Coach of the Year, right? Is there any valid reasoning for anyone else to get that title?
Kyle Glazier: Nah, not really. The other way you can go with the COTY award is to find a team that nobody expected to compete at all which ended up being a contender...but I can’t think of any of those this year. Monty is by far the strongest candidate.
Damon Allred: I do believe Monty should and will win the award. Any notion that the award should go to the team who most exceeded expectations is flawed to me, and doesn’t even disqualify Monty; the Suns won 64 games after the over/under was set at 51.5, a 12.5 game excess.
Khaleel Abdullah: I 100% believe that Monty should get the award. He exceeded expectations and is everything you want in your head coach. I would like to take a moment to give a special shout out to Willie Green who got the New Orleans Pelicans into the post season despite all odds. Taylor Jenkins (Grizzlies) and Chris Finch (Timberwolves) also did a bang up job. However, Monty is above all of them on the chart for me.
Kenneth Manoj: There are a handful of coaches this year with cases to be made that are better than previous winners. It has been a really good race for COTY, with multiple teams surprising us along the way with how they responded to their respective coaches. But Monty’s historic season stands above the competition.
John Voita: For some reason, the Suns’ head coach will be overlooked once more. While his peers have recognized him with consecutive Michael H. Goldberg NBCA Coach of the Year Awards, the Red Auerbach Trophy will not be in Monty’s possession due to the sportswriters. Again. Should he win it? 100%. Will he? Probably not.
2 – Who is your MVP outside of the Suns? We all know Devin Booker and Chris Paul SHOULD have a legit shot at getting this and I’d LOVE to see them being Co-MVPs even BUT let’s say they just get named to the All-NBA teams, who would you name MVP that doesn’t play for Phoenix?
Kyle G: Joel Embiid is my pick. It was a close one for me between him and Giannis...they had very similar numbers. But for Embiid to win the scoring title while continuing to be one of the league’s top defenders...on a legitimately competitive team in what is now actually a tough Eastern Conference...he earned it.
Damon A: It could be the PTSD talking, but I’d go with Giannis Antetokounmpo. There’s arguably no player in the league harder to gameplan for, and his squad plays championship-caliber ball just about every minute he’s out there.
Kenneth M: The daily grind that Nikola Jokić put in over the course of the season to bring this team to 48 wins was outstanding. His numbers were eye-popping and his play on both ends of the court passed the eye test. While the numbers were also absurd for Giannis and Embiid, they each had more support on both ends of the court than Jokić had in Denver. Jokić played more games and Denver had a worse record without Jokić (2-6) than both Philadelphia (6-8) and Milwaukee (6-9) without their star guys.
John V: I’m in Team Embiid on this one. What does valuable mean to me? This year it means putting up with everything off the court as well, and Philly has been a circus. He avoided the pitfalls that could consume one in such a precarious situation. While Ben Simmons left the team, Joel stayed focused and led the league in scoring.
Khaleel A: It’s a toss up between Embiid and Joker, in my opinion. I think both are very much deserving. Joel dealt with a circus, like John said, and Nikola did absolutely everything in his power to get his team to win despite missing a lot of help. If I had to choose - Jokic.
3 – Do you think Mikal Bridges gets Defensive Player of the Year? If not, he should definitely make the All-Defensive First Team but who do you see winning?
Kyle G: I hope he does, but apparently there is a lot of buzz around Marcus Smart and I think there is a good chance he ends up winning it. I agree Bridges should be a lock for Defensive team, though.
Damon A: Lock for First Team, should be a lock for DPOY. I’m not as much of a fan of the Marcus Smart-type of defender that relies so much on gambling whereas Mikal is possession in possession out guarding the opposing team’s best player straight up and still forcing a lot of the turnovers that Smart does; Bridges: 1.6 stocks (steals + blocks) per game to Smart: 2.0.
Khaleel A: He deserves it and should win it. However, there has been a lot of talk about Marcus Smart. Also, it’s usually a big man so Rudy Gobert comes to mind. Can Smart or Gobert guard almost every player on the court regardless of position as well as Mikal, though? That thought wins it for him, in my opinion.
Kenneth M: Bridges is a lock for the First Team, and has as much of a shot as Smart in the DPOY debate, if not more. But I don’t see a guard without counting stats winning DPOY, which is more of a criticism of the voters than anything else. Gary Payton snagged 2.9 steals a game when he won DPOY in 1996. Steals and blocks don’t tell the story of defense, but I just don’t see a guard winning over the voter base without better numbers. I’d love to be proven wrong, but otherwise, I see Rudy Gobert winning his fourth.
John V: Again, I think he should win DPOY, but when you start to see sportswriters share their votes — including long-time Suns’ support Kevin O’Connor — I’m not seeing enough traction for me to believe that he’ll actually win.
Here's how I voted for Defensive Player of the Year:— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) April 11, 2022
1. Rudy Gobert
2. Marcus Smart
3. Mikal Bridges
While I believe Bridges should win the award, especially considering he brought it every night and played in every game of the season, I once again lack the faith in the writers to actually award him. It’s as if they all thought everyone else was voting for Bridges, so they voted for JJJ, Smart, or Gobert to stick to their metrics-based morals.
4 – IF the Suns only get one individual award, which one would you like to see it be?
Kyle G: A Booker MVP would be the most buzzy thing, so that’s what I’d hope for. I think that kind of recognition for our still fairly young franchise cornerstone would be the best thing to help burnish the Suns brand further. COTY for Monty is the most likely, and will be nice, but doesn’t make the same splash that an MVP award does.
Damon A: Mikal DPOY just because I still feel like he’s overlooked by the general population. No one doubts that Booker’s a star or that Monty is a great coach. People will still list five or more defenders before bringing up Bridges.
Kenneth M: Sorry Mikal, but Monty was already robbed of last year’s COTY award. I would love to vote Mikal for DPOY, but Monty’s work this season cannot go unrewarded.
John V: I don’t know if I’m breaking any of the rules here, but how about an NBA Finals MVP for Devin Booker, eh? If that’s bending it too far, then reward Bridges with the DPOY.
Khaleel A: It’s a tough choice to make but I’m going with Monty for COTY. How much impact he’s had on this team and getting the best out of all the players to where they position themselves in the running for the other awards simply can’t go unnoticed. Also, I agree with John, and I think Book has a very strong chance at Finals MVP, especially if he’s snubbed.
In an ideal scenario we would see Monty Williams getting Coach of the Year, Devin Booker/Chris Paul getting MVP and Mikal Bridges getting Defensive Player of the Year.
However, we all know how the Suns get snubbed so I wouldn’t be shocked at any different outcome.
The best part about this team right here, though, is as much as I’m sure they’d appreciate the love in the form of the awards, they could probably care less. Us fans may ultimately accept it as well and you know why? Because we know how this squad plays with a chip on their shoulders and they’re all after the ultimate prize.
Getting that would make us fans forget about all the rest.