7 NBA awards Houston Rockets have a chance at winning this year
Defensive Player of the Year – Clint Capela
This one is more of a longshot, but there are a few reasons Clint Capela can be in the running for Defensive Player of the Year this season. The 6-10 center is an intimidating force inside, often displaying quick footwork and a knack for being in the right place when oppositions try their luck in the paint.
Capela’s average of 1.5 blocks per game last season tied for 10th in the league, while the year before he was second only to Anthony Davis with 1.9 blocks per game. That same season, he even received some votes for Defensive Player of the Year, but Rudy Gobert easily won the award.
There is heavy competition in this category, however, what gives Clint a shot this season is the team’s depth. This roster should be talented enough to carry the bulk of the load offensively, allowing Capela to focus more on the defensive end. On top of that, there will likely be many times where Clint is the only big on the court for Houston, so he’ll be forced to be the anchor inside to contest and block shots.
Coach of the Year – Mike D’Antoni
In a Western Conference filled with new pairings, overhauled rosters and question marks, the Houston Rockets come into this season as the biggest question mark of them all. Since the acquisition of eight-time All-Star Russell Westbrook, there has been heavy debate in the NBA world about how Mike D’Antoni will make the duo of Harden and Russ work.
Factors such as past usage rates, similar playing styles and a penchant for dominating the ball are just some arguments dissenters have had against Houston being able to make the pair work. So far in the preseason, there have been some rough patches for Westbrook as he learns to adapt his game to a brand new style.
While the Rockets now boast two of the league’s last three MVPs, the majority of NBA media and general managers still show hesitance about D’Antoni’s ability to maximize the team’s potential. The transition from last year’s team to this one will undoubtedly be one of the toughest challenges of Coach D’Antoni’s career.
If he’s able to make it work and finish near the top of the West as Rockets fans expect, he could very well earn his third NBA Coach of the Year award.