Before the NBA season resumes with the seeding game slate, the association will be handing out its annual awards. The latest betting odds show the only two Boston Celtics in the running are two long-shots.
As the most unique final eight regular-season games and postseason in the history of the NBA approach, Boston Celtics fans have reasons to stay tuned to the league’s happenings until the opener against Milwaukee a week from Friday.
The NBA announced that they would be handing out their annual awards in the next week before the seeding slate kicks off in the Lake Buena Vista bubble on the 30th. Two C’s showed up in the latest odds for the six prizes.
Jayson Tatum is a somewhat longshot candidate for the league’s Most Improved Player award, while Marcus Smart is also a fringe contender for the Defensive Player of the Year award:
Most Improved Player
Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat: -148
Brandon Ingram, Pelicans: +260
Luka Doncic, Mavs: +550
Jayson Tatum, Celtics: +1000
Defensive Player of the Year
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks: -500
Anthony Davis, Lakers: +350
Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz: +2500
Patrick Beverly, Los Angeles Clippers: +10000
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers: +10000
Kawhi Leonard, Clippers: +10000
Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics: +10000
Jrue Holiday, New Orleans Pelicans: +10000
Ben Simmons, 76ers: +10000
Brook Lopez, Bucks: +10000
Tatum’s ascent this season from future difference-maker to All-Star has been notable, but he had a much better season last year than Bam Adebayo–a second unit center who broke out after the Miami Heat traded Hassan Whiteside.
As for Smart, his defensive output this season has been crucial, but he is not the lynchpin for the entire defense like Giannis Antetokounmpo is for the Milwaukee Bucks. The issue isn’t that either Smart or Tatum deserves to be the front-runner for either award, though.
The issue is that–at the very least–Brad Stevens and Jaylen Brown deserve to be in the conversation for most improved.
Stevens has been able to earn a better record with a less talented roster with this year’s squad compared to 2018-19. He lost three starters and has relied on rookies, yet has been able to navigate the C’s to a top-five record.
Meanwhile, Brown’s rise from the bench to a 20 point-per-game scorer has elevated the C’s ceiling and given Tatum a reliable #2 option on many nights given the injury woes suffered by Kemba Walker and Gordon Hayward next season.
While the Boston Celtics don’t seem likely to bring home any awards, the Houdini just wants to see some more love for their collective achievements this season.