Coming to the end of the 2022-23 regular season, I made my own gifts and delivered to the Milwaukee Bucks, who finished the regular season with the best record in the NBA.
In participating in trophies and millennials, we decided that every player should at least be named runner-up in one of the categories, even if they earned an award (cough, Pat Connaughton, cough). With 12 prizes to hand, dive right in.
Teammate of the Year: Thanasis Antetokounmpo
This is probably his last season in Milwaukee so I wanted him to end his reign with a bang. You could ask NBA officials whether he is on the NBA roster, or use common sense to understand why he has a place at the end of the bench in Milwaukee.
Either way, he hasn’t had a presence in Milwaukee over the last four years. He’s always positive, he’s the first to jump off the bench when something happens and he’s always cheering on his teammates. Let’s give him the credit to embrace his role and not become a distraction in the room.
Runner-up: Jrue Holiday
Biggest crush: MarJon Beauchamp
Before the season I was on the record that Beauchamp should have red-shirted in his rookie season. He played more than I expected in the first season, and performed better than I would give him credit for. Fans were disappointed in his lack of playing time as the season wore on, but he showed enough flashes to believe he could turn into a role player in two to three years. That prospect may seem illusory, but the Bucks desperately need to turn a draft pick into a legitimate rotation. He may be on his way to the battlefield.
Runner-up: Serge Ibaka (what did he expect his role to be in Milwaukee this season and why was the sudden big man disappointed? I wonder, I wonder).
Newcomer of the Year: Joe Ingles
Ingles got the start of his Bucks career, appearing in the first game on December 19. However, that is to be expected a year after an ACL tear. It was slow going at first, but it slowed down over a month or so. He is an excellent player in the center of the court, especially with the ball handler in the league and volume. He’s also shooting a whopping 51.9 percent from three-point range since the beginning of March.
Runner-up: AJ Green
Most soft: Chris Middleton
365 days to Med. He has deteriorated on the left knee in the first round of the playoffs last year and then decided to have offseason wrist surgery to help what was bothering him since the All-Star break. His recovery took longer than expected, as he struggled through part of the movement and was unable to play basketball. He suffered two setbacks, even re-aggravating the right Knee last week. He continues to fight and is trying to get himself back to playing for the Bucks this season.
Runner-up: George Hill
Most Improved Player: Jevon Carter
Carter is back with a vengeance this season and has proven to be a capable backup point guard. He has a strong career in effective field goal percentage, assists per game, rebounds per game and points per game. And his defense continues to be tough.
Runner-up: Grayson Allen
Best Midseason Acquisition: Jae Crowder
He was tough on the crowd after he was first scouted by the Bucks, but eventually found his groove. He had a season-high 24 points on Friday night, and re-hit three of his shots, hitting 11 of his last 20 attempts. This will be huge for the Bucks championship.
Running back: Meyer Leonard and Goran Dragic
Best Shooter of the Year: Grayson Allen
Allen’s three-point percentage dipped slightly from last year (40.9 percent to 39.9 percent), but the Bucks’ lethal shooting spot is still up. Excellent space as a starter and provides and defenses of the salary to send too much help to Giannis Antetokounmpo and others.
Runner-up: AJ Green
Best chance to redeem himself: Pat Connaughton
It’s been a rough year for Connaughton and I’ve tried to fit him into the categories somewhere. He had the worst season of his career and Milwaukee’s best depth on the wing has been under Mike Budenholzer. Connaughton is currently struggling with an ankle injury. He will have the ability to redeem himself, but his leash will be short.
Runner-up: Leonard Meyers
Best De-Ball Defender: Jrue Holiday
Holiday is one of the best defenders of the ball in the NBA. Four can hold positions legitimately and do well. Milwaukee is lucky to have him lead the attack and defense.
Runner-up: Wesley Matthews
Best Off-Ball Defender: Brook Lopez
When the ball gets off the handle or someone else does, Lopez is there to clean up the mess. He is a strong candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, as all the important basket guards in the Bucks’ scheme.
Runner-up: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Sixth Year: Bobby Portis
Portis has a strong case to be the Sixth Man in the NBA if the consideration for guards wasn’t so heavily favored. He did a great job taking his role off the bench and continues to thrive.
Runner-up: Jevon Carter
Most Valuable Player: Giannis Antetokounmpo
This was never an award. Milwaukee has achieved the NBA’s best record this season, despite missing Middleton, Ingles, Connaughton and others for significant portions. Antetokounmpo (and head coach Mike Budenholzer) is the first reason for that. His dominance in the competition continues to remind everyone that he is the best player in the world.
Runner-up: Brook Lopez