Curry, Antetokoumpo predicted as Western & Eastern Conference MVPs this NBA season

Ishaan Gupta ’26, Staff Reporter

With over a month since the NBA season kicked off, key players such as Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Zion Williamson, and Ben Simmons have returned after being injured, offering unexpected twists and turns. 

The Utah Jazz, a team that was expected to tank, started out the season 12-7 and sat on top of the Western Conference. Here are the predictions for the NBA season, including awards and the anticipated champions.

 

6th Man of the Year: Russell Westbrook

To start off, Russell Westbrook will win the 6th man of the year. Once Westbrook started to come off the bench, his efficiency skyrocketed, averaging 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists, including one steal. Russ has also showcased an improved three-point shot, where he recently hit two buzzer beaters, a half-court shot, and a deep stepback three. Westbrook, thriving in his new role with the Lakers, has been a great contributor overall. 

 

Most Improved Player: Lauri Markkanen

While it is still early in the season, Lauri Markkanen had led the Utah Jazz to an early run where they now have a record of 14-13. Before Markkanen was traded to the Jazz, he averaged 14 points, 5 rebounds, and 1 assist. In Utah, Markkanen has seen an all-around improvement averaging 22 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and almost a block while having shooting splints of 53 percent, 40 percent, and 82 percent. Markkanen will most likely make his first all-star appearance as well.

 

Rookie of the Year: Paolo Banchero

Paolo Banchero has started the season, averaging 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists. He even played a game where he dropped 33 points and 15 rebounds. He is the second teenager to put up 30 points and 15 rebounds in a game, the first being LeBron James. If Banchero can stay healthy, he will make a star appearance this season. 

 

Defensive Player of the Year: Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis will win the DPOY this year. So far, he has averaged 2.4 blocks, 1.4 steals, and almost 10 defensive rebounds. AD has had multiple games putting up 5 or more blocks and had a game where he put up 37, 21, 5 blocks, and 5 steals. 

 

Most Valuable Player:  Luka Doncic

Doncic has started the season averaging 33 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists while shooting 50 percent from the field. Recently, he had a 40-point triple-double win against the Warriors. That was Doncic’s fifth 40-point triple-double, ranking behind greats such as Oscar Robertson, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and Lebron James. Luka is currently ranked 10th in all-time triple-doubles, having 51.

 

Western Conference Finals MVP: Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors have had a slow start to their season. However, Curry has statistically been having a season rivaling his unanimous MVP one, averaging 31 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, and one steal while shooting almost 52 percent from the field, 44 percent from three-point land, 90 percent from the free throw line, and 67 percent true shooting. There is no doubt that Curry and the Warriors will turn the season around and go to the finals. 

 

Eastern Conference Finals MVP: Giannis Antetokoumpo  

Giannis Antetokoumpo and the Milwaukee Bucks have had a strong start to their season and have just recently gotten Khris Middelton back from his injury. This Bucks team has been led by Giannis who is averaging 31 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, one block, and almost a steal while shooting 54 percent from the field. Jrue Holiday has also been a key player in helping the Bucks team alongside Giannis and Khris, averaging 18, 5, 7, and 1.6 steals. This team will definitely make the finals with the way they’ve been playing. 

 

Finals MVP: Stephen Curry

As mentioned above, the Warriors have had a slow start but Curry has been having one of the best seasons of his career, and key players are emerging in the last few games. In a stretch of games, Draymond Green has been averaging 13 points, 5 rebounds, 10 assists, one steal, and 1.4 blocks, while shooting over 60 percent from the field. Klay Thompson, someone who had a slow start to the season has recently had a big game, having 41 points while shooting 76 percent from deep. Followed by that, he had games with 18, 20, 21, and 26 points while shooting over 40 percent from three. The bench, which has been inconsistent, has shown some improvements with players in recent games such as Anthony Lamb, Jonathan Kuminga, Jordan Poole, JaMychal Green, and Donte DiVincenzo. Jordan Poole has had games dropping over 30 points this season.  Kuminga, someone who was out of the rotation early on in the season, has been a reliable piece off the bench and shows continuous improvement.  If the Warriors can perform at a consistent level in the playoffs and finals, they will take home their 8th championship as a franchise with Curry winning his second finals MVP.