"If the season ended today."
Of all the cringeworthy things we say in sports, it's perhaps the most cringeworthy.
But, like ... what if the season did end?
Two leagues have hit the pause button right before the stretch run, which is just wildly unsatisfying. Around now, we should be talking about playoff seeding, MVPs and more.
We can leave the playoff simulations to the video game people, but if the NBA and NHL regular seasons are dunzo, here are the winners.
MVP: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks
The Freak goes back to back. The guy is top three in points per game and rebounds per game, plus he's led an otherwise not-great roster to the best record in the NBA.
Rookie of the Year: Ja Morant, Grizzlies
There’s obvious temptation to put Zion Williamson here because of how sensational he’s been since missing the first three months.
That said, Morant has played like a veteran All-Star at a position that’s supposed to take a couple years to develop in the pros. He’s got the Grizzlies in the playoffs, for gosh’s sake.
Most Improved Player: Brandon Ingram, Pelicans
Jayson Tatum might have become the favorite here if they'd played a couple more weeks before stopping. Ingram's 24.3 points per game in his first season with the Pelicans put him ahead of Tatum (23.6 points).
However, Tatum has taken off so much since late January (28.6 points per game since Jan. 30 compared to Ingram's 21.8) that he'd have likely passed Ingram after 82 games.
Sixth Man: Lou Williams, Clippers
I don't know, probably?
Hart Trophy: Leon Draisaitl, Oilers
A no-brainer. Drasaitl has been the best player in the league this year, and his 15-point lead on the rest of the NHL in points (110 through 71 games) illustrates that.
Where might David Pastrnak (tied for the league in goals) finish in the race if it were decided today? I'll say fourth behind Drasaitl, Nathan MacKinnon and Connor McDavid.
Vezina Trophy: Tuukka Rask, Bruins
You love to see it. Rask ranks first in save percentage (.929) among goalies with at least 30 starts, and his five shutouts are tied for second in the league.
Connor Hellebuyck (tops in the NHL with six shutouts) has 56 starts to Rask's 41, but only one goalie the last decade has won the Vezina with a save percentage as low as his (.922).
Norris Trophy: John Carlson, Capitals
From Natick to Norris. Carlson has 74 points in 69 games, plays 24:38 minutes a game and does so against tough competition.
From the "WHAT?!" category: Dougie Hamilton would have been a finalist if he didn't get hurt. Dude had 14 goals and 40 points in 47 games.
Selke Trophy: Sean Couturier, Flyers
This one's tough. My vote would be Patrice Bergeron because I think he's better. That said, he missed time that Couturier hasn't, leading Couturier to give him the edge in points (59 to Bergeron's 56).
When you add in that Couturier leads the league in faceoff percentage (Bergeron is fifth), it's reasonable to think voters will give the Flyers center his first win before giving Bergeron his fifth.