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Russell Westbrook wins union’s Players Voice MVP

Russell Westbrook, Joel Embiid

Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook, left, goes up for the shot over Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid, right, during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016, in Philadelphia. The Thunder won 103-97. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)


The players union released its long-anticipated long-overdue awards, and there are some doozies. First of all, I still can’t figure out what Chris Bosh – who was announced as the “host” of the Twitter-released awards – has to do with this. But let’s get to the actual winners.

Here are the major awards, with the traditional award/Players Voice equivalent:

  • Most Valuable Player/Most Valuable Player: Russell Westbrook/Russell Westbrook
  • Defensive Player of the Year/Best Defender: Draymond Green/Kawhi Leonard
  • Rookie of the Year/Best Rookie: Malcolm Brogdon/Malcolm Brogdon
  • Sixth Man of the Year/Best off the Bench: Eric Gordon/Lou Williams

No surprise Westbrook won both MVPs. He deserved them. Still, James Harden could’ve hoped for a split result like in 2015, when Stephen Curry won actual MVP and Harden won the players’ version.

There’s obviously slight differences in the other categories. I think Green had the best defensive season and deservedly won Defensive Player of the Year, but I also think Leonard is the NBA’s best defender and therefore deserved this honor. I would’ve picked Andre Iguodala for Best off the Bench (and Sixth Man of the Year, for what it’s worth), though that’s a minor quibble. But how on earth did Joel Embiid not win Best Rookie? He was the best rookie in years, let alone this season. I picked Brogdon for Rookie of the Year based on his overall contributions in far more playing time, but there should have been no question about the best rookie.

The union also released several awards without a corresponding NBA honor:

  • Comeback Player of the Year: Joel Embiid
  • Hardest to Guard: Russell Westbrook
  • Clutch Performer: Isaiah Thomas
  • Global Impact: LeBron James
  • Player You Secretly Wish Was On Your Team: LeBron James
  • Most Influential Veteran: Vince Carter
  • Best Dressed: Russell Westbrook
  • Best Social Media Follow: Joel Embiid
  • Coach You’d Most Like to Play For: Gregg Popovich
  • Best Home Court Advantage: Warriors

LeBron winning Player You Secretly Wish Was On Your Team has to be an implicit slap in the face to Kyrie Irving. I’m glad to see Thomas and Carter deservedly recognized.

Lastly, the union awarded a Teammate of the Year on each team:

  • Hawks: Dwight Howard
  • Celtics: Gerald Green
  • Nets: Randy Foye
  • Hornets: Marvin Williams
  • Bulls: Rajon Rondo
  • Cavaliers: James Jones
  • Pistons: Andre Drummond
  • Mavericks: Harrison Barnes
  • Nuggets: Darrell Arthur
  • Warriors: David West
  • Rockets: Trevor Ariza
  • Pacers: Al Jefferson
  • Clippers: Alan Anderson
  • Lakers: Metta World Peace
  • Grizzlies: Mike Conley
  • Heat: Udonis Haslem
  • Bucks: Jason Terry
  • Timberwolves: Ricky Rubio
  • Pelicans: Quincy Pondexter
  • Knicks: Carmelo Anthony
  • Thunder: Nick Collison
  • Magic: Bismack Biyombo
  • 76ers: T.J. McConnell
  • Suns: Tyson Chandler
  • Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard
  • Kings: Garrett Temple
  • Spurs: Manu Ginobili
  • Raptors: Kyle Lowry
  • Jazz: Boris Diaw
  • Wizards: Jason Smith

Dirk Nowitzki won the NBA’s Teammate of the Year – which is voted on by current players after a panel of former players selects nominees – then didn’t even win for his own team here? That’s just weird.