The NBA Awards, in partnership with Turner Sports, was created to recognize the top performers of the NBA season.
The nominees for each award are announced during NBA on TNT broadcasts. The winners of each award are announced at the ceremony, as decided upon by a panel of sports broadcasters across Canada and the USA.
In addition, certain fan-voted categories are decided through the NBA website or via social media.
The ceremony occurs following the NBA Finals but before the NBA Draft. Broadcast occurs live on TNT, with a designated host sharing duties with the Inside the NBA team. Let’s take a look at the major NBA Awards!
|Larry O’Brien Trophy||1977||Awarded to the NBA Finals winner.||Milwaukee Bucks (2021)|
|Walter A. Brown Trophy||1947||Awarded to the NBA Finals winner. Replaced with the Larry O’Brien Trophy in 1977.||N/A|
|Bob Cousy Trophy||2022||Awarded to the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals.||TBD|
|Oscar Robertson Trophy||2022||Awarded to the winner of the Western Conference Finals.||TBD|
|Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton Trophy||2022||Awarded to the Atlantic Division’s first-placed team.||Boston Celtics (2022)|
|Wayne Embry Trophy||2022||Awarded to the Central Division’s first-placed team.||Milwaukee Bucks (2022)|
|Earl Lloyd Trophy||2022||Awarded to the Southeast Division’s first-placed team.||Miami Heat (2022)|
|Willis Reed Trophy||2022||Awarded to the Southwest Division’s first-placed team.||Memphis Grizzlies (2022)|
|Sam Jones Trophy||2022||Awarded to the Northwest Division’s first-placed team.||Utah Jazz (2022)|
|Chuck Cooper Trophy||2022||Awarded to the Pacific Division’s first-placed team.||Phoenix Suns (2022)|
|All-NBA Team||1947||Three five-player teams (first, second, and third) composed of the season’s best players as voted upon by a panel of Canadian and American sportswriters and broadcasters.|
|All-Rookie Team||1963||Two five-player teams (first and second) composed of the season’s top rookies as voted upon by active NBA head coaches. The voting Head Coaches are unable to vote for players from their own team.|
|All-Defensive Team||1969||Two five-player teams (first and second) composed of the season’s top defensive players as voted upon by a panel of Canadian and American sportswriters and broadcasters.|
|Award||Established||Trophy Name||Description||Most Recent Winner(s)||Year Awarded|
|All-Star Game MVP||1951||NBA All-Star Kobe Bryant Most Valuable Player Award||Awarded to the best performer at the annual NBA All-Star Game. Voted upon by a panel of media members.||Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)||2022|
|Rookie of the Year||1953||Eddie Gottlieb Trophy||Awarded to the year’s top performing rookie. Voted upon by a panel of American and Canadian sportswriters and media members.||Scottie Barnes (Toronto Raptors)||2022|
|Most Valuable Player||1956||Maurice Podoloff Trophy||Awarded to the top-performing player of the NBA regular season. Voted upon by a panel of sportswriters and media members.||Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets)||2022|
|Coach of the year||1963||Red Auerbach Trophy||Awarded to the best coach of the NBA regular season. Voted upon by a panel of sportswriters and media members.||Monty Williams (Phoenix Suns)||2022|
|NBA Finals MVP||1969||Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award||Awarded to the best performing player of the NBA Finals. Voted upon by a panel of nine media members.||Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)||2021|
|NBA Eastern Conference Finals MVP||2022||Larry Bird Trophy||Awarded to the best performing player of the Eastern Conference Finals. Voted upon by a panel of media members.||TBD||N/A|
|NBA Western Conference Finals MVP||2022||Magic Johnson Trophy||Awarded to the best performing player of the Western Conference Finals. Voted upon by a panel of media members.||TBD||N/A|
|Executive of the Year||1973||n/a||Awarded to the NBA’s top front office executive. Voted upon by executives from the league’s 30 teams.||Zach Kleiman (Memphis Grizzlies)||2022|
|Citizenship Award||1975||J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award||Awarded to a player who “showed great service and dedication to the community”. Voted upon by the PBWA.||Malcolm Brogdon (Indiana Pacers)||2020|
|Defensive Player of the Year||1983||n/a||Awarded to the top defensive player of the regular season. Voted upon by a panel of media members.||Marcus Smart (Boston Celtics)||2022|
|Sixth Man of the Year||1983||n/a||Awarded to the best performing substitute of the regular season. Voted upon by a panel of media members.||Tyler Herro (Miami Heat)||2022|
|Most Improved Player||1986||n/a||Awarded to the most improved player in the NBA. Voted upon by a panel of media members.||Ja Morant (Memphis Grizzlies)||2022|
|Sportsmanship Award||1996||Joe Dumars Trophy||Awarded to a player who displays “the ideals of sportsmanship on the court with ethical behavior, fair play, and integrity”. Voted upon by NBA players.||Patty Mills (Brooklyn Nets)||2022|
|Teammate of the Year||2013||Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award||Awarded to the “ideal teammate” who exemplifies “selfless play, commitment, and dedication to this team.” Voted upon by NBA players.||Jrue Holiday (Milwaukee Bucks)||2022|
|Lifetime Achievement Award||2017||n/a||Awarded to a player who has achieved a lifetime achievement in the NBA.||Larry Bird and Magic Johnson||2019|
|Social Justice Champion Award||2021||Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion||Awarded to a player who has made strides in the fight for social justice.||Reggie Bullock (Dallas Mavericks)||2022|
Nikola Jokic accepted his MVP in Serbia.
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) May 11, 2022
Since 1956 the NBA has awarded the most outstanding player of the season the Maurice Podoloff Trophy, named in honour of the first commissioner of the NBA. Until 1980, the MVP was chosen by a vote of NBA players. From 1981 and on, the MVP Award has been decided upon by a panel of sportswriters.
The choice is made via a points system. Members of the voting panel cast votes for first through fifth place selections: first-place is worth 10 points, second-place is worth seven points, third-place is worth five points, fourth-place is worth three points, and fifth-place is worth one point. In 2010, one ballot is cast by fans via online voting.
The MVP Award has been won by some of the greatest players to grace the basketball court. Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, and LeBron James top the list. Every player that has won the MVP Award has been nominated to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
|6||Kareem Abdul-Jabbar||Center||Milwaukee Bucks(3)/Los Angeles Lakers (3)||1971, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1980|
|5||Bill Russell||Center||Boston Celtics||1958, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1965|
|Michael Jordan||Shooting Guard||Chicago Bulls||1988, 1991, 1992, 1996, 1998|
|4||Wilt Chamberlain||Center||Philadelphia Warriors (1)/Philadelphia 76ers (3)||1960, 1966, 1967, 1968|
|LeBron James||Small Forward||Cleveland Cavaliers (2)/Miami Heat (2)||2009, 2010, 2012, 2013|
|3||Moses Malone||Center||Houston Rockets (2)/Philadelphia 76ers (1)||1979, 1982, 1983|
|Larry Bird||Small Forward||Boston Celtics||1984, 1985, 1986|
|Magic Johnson||Point Guard||Los Angeles Lakers||1987, 1989, 1990|
|2||Bob Pettit||Power Forward/Center||St. Louis Hawks||1956, 1959|
|Karl Malone||Power Forward||Utah Jazz||1997, 1999|
|Tim Duncan||Power Forward||San Antonio Spurs||2002, 2003|
|Steve Nash||Point Guard||Phoenix Suns||2005, 2006|
|Stephen Curry||Point Guard||Golden State Warriors||2015, 2016|
|Giannis Antetokounmpo||Power Forward||Milwaukee Bucks||2019, 2020|
|Nikola Jokic||Center||Denver Nuggets||2021. 2022|
|1993-94||Hakeem Olajuwon||Center||Nigeria||Houston Rockets||Houston|
|2004-05||Steve Nash||Point Guard||Canada||Phoenix Suns||Santa Clara|
|2005-06||Steve Nash (2)||Point Guard||Canada||Phoenix Suns||Santa Clara|
|2006-07||Dirk Nowitzki||Power Forward||Germany||Dallas Mavericks||DJK Würzburg (GER)|
|2018-19||Giannis Antetokounmpo||Power Forward||Greece||Milwaukee Bucks||Filathlitikos (GRE)|
|2019-20||Giannis Antetokounmpo (2)||Power Forward||Greece||Milwaukee Bucks||Filathlitikos (GRE)|
|2020-21||Nikola Jokic||Center||Serbia||Denver Nuggets||Mega Basket (SRB)|
|2021-22||Nikola Jokic||Center||Serbia||Denver Nuggets||Mega Basket (SRB)|
— NBA (@NBA) April 23, 2022
The NBA Rookie of the Year award is given to the top rookie of the regular season. Winners are awarded the Eddie Gottlieb trophy, as selected by a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters from the United States and Canada.
Of Rookie of the Year Winners, 21 of those winners have been the first overall pick in the NBA Draft. There have also been 16 eventual MVP winners out of the Rookie of the Year class. Two Rookies of the Year, Wes Unseld and Wilt Chamberlain won the honor simultaneously with the Most Valuable Player award.
American players have dominated the Rookie of the Year Award and every winner has been selected in the NBA Draft.
As the NBA has expanded its reach, a number of international prospects have made their name by winning the trophy themselves. Legendary forward Pau Gasol broke the seal for international players, being the first non-American to win the award.
|2001-02||Pau Gasol||Power Forward||Spain||Memphis Grizzlies||FC Barcelona (ESP)|
|2014-15||Andrew Wiggins||Small Forward||Canada||Minnesota Timberwolves||Kansas|
|2015-16||Karl-Anthony Towns||Center||Dominican Republic||Minnesota Timberwolves||Kentucky|
|2017-18||Ben Simmons||Point Guard||Australia||Philadelphia 76ers||LSU|
|2018-19||Luka Doncic||Point Guard||Slovenia||Dallas Mavericks||Real Madrid (ESP)|
Expectations on rookies are rarely high. Due to the jump in competition level, teams are modest in their expectations, foreseeing only a singular stellar performance.
However sometimes, multiple players are given the honour:
|1970-71||Dave Cowens||Forward/Center||USA||Boston Celtics||Florida State|
|Geoff Petrie||Guard||USA||Portland Trail Blazers||Princeton|
|1994-95||Grant Hill||Forward||USA||Detroit Pistons||Duke|
|Jason Kidd||Guard||USA||Dallas Mavericks||California|
|1999-20||Elton Brand||Forward||USA||Chicago Bulls||Duke|
|Steve Francis||Guard||USA||Houston Rockets||Maryland|
He is the first guard to receive the award since Gary Payton in the 1995-96 season. pic.twitter.com/kunKEW6ujj
— NBA (@NBA) April 18, 2022
Awarded annually since 1982-1983, the Defensive Player of the Year is given to the standout defensive performer of the season. Dominant defensive players are hard to come by and the award has been mostly won by centers.
Some of the leagues best shot-blockers, pickpockets, and man-to-man defenders are former NBA Defensive Players of the Year. Other notable defensive players have found themselves on the NBA All-Defensive Team.
|4||Dikembe Mutombo||Center||Denver Nuggets, Atlanta Hawks (2), Philadelphia 76ers||1995, 1997, 1998, 2001|
|Ben Wallace||Center||Detroit Pistons||2002, 2003, 2005, 2006|
|3||Dwight Howard||Center||Orlando Magic||2009, 2010, 2011|
|Rudy Gobert||Center||Utah Jazz||2018, 2019, 2021|
|2||Sidney Moncrief||Guard||Milwaukee Bucks||1983, 1984|
|Mark Eaton||Center||Utah Jazz||1985, 1989|
|Dennis Rodman||Forward||Detroit Pistons||1990, 1991|
|Hakeem Olajuwon||Center||Houston Rockets||1993, 1994|
|Alonzo Mourning||Center||Miami Heat||1999, 2000|
|Kawhi Leonard||Forward||San Antonio Spurs||2015, 2016|
The moment when Udonis Haslem and the Heat presented Tyler Herro with his Sixth Man of the Year award ? pic.twitter.com/FRwu8EDyPj
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 3, 2022
The NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award is an annual award that has been given out since the 1982-1983 season. It celebrates the leagues top performing player whose contributions are earned as a member of the bench. To win this award, a player does not have to exclusively be a member of their teams bench unit, but must have a majority of his appearances as a substitute.
Out of 30 players to win the award, scoring-adept guards have been dominant. On occasion, big men have been winners of the award as well.
|3||Lou Williams||Guard||Toronto Raptors/LA Clippers (2)||2015, 2018, 2019|
|Jamal Crawford||Guard||Atlanta Hawks/LA Clippers (2)||2010, 2014, 2016|
|2||Kevin McHale||Forward||Boston Celtics||1984, 1985|
|Ricky Pierce||Guard||Milwaukee Bucks||1987, 1990|
|Detlef Schrempf||Forward||Indiana Pacers||1991, 1992|
The Grizz presented Ja Morant with his Most Improved Player trophy at practice ?
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 25, 2022
The NBA Most Improved Player of the Year Award is given to a player that has shown the most personal progress during the regular season, as compared to their previous years. This is not limited to scoring, but all categories. Jumps in role with a team have bolstered players’ chances for the award, while one-off seasons of fantastic production have been found as well.
This award tends to reward players whose leaps in production also denote a leap in expectation. A player has never won the Most Improved Player Award more than once, seeing as expectations are raised after winning. Only a single player who has won the Most Improved Player Award has been inducted to the NBA Hall of Fame – Tracy McGrady. Winners of the award tend to go on to achieve further accolades:
“This is so stinkin’ cool.”
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) May 9, 2022
The NBA Coach of the Year Award rewards the Red Auerbach Trophy, named after the head coach who led the Boston Celtics to nine of its NBA Championships. The winner is selected from a panel of sportswriters from the USA and Canada. The award isn’t given to the coach with the best record on the season, but to a coach who has shown to have a massive impact on the success of their team compared to previous years.
Attached to this award are some of the greatest basketball minds in the history of the sport. For some former players and other basketball academics, their impact on the game and its players will be forever felt.
|3||Don Nelson||Milwaukee Bucks (2), Golden State Warriors||1983, 1985, 1992|
|Pat Riley||Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, Miami Heat||1990, 1993, 1997|
|Gregg Popovich||San Antonio Spurs||2003, 2012, 2014|
|2||Gene Shue||Baltimore Bullets, Washington Bullets||1969, 1982|
|Bill Fitch||Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics||1976, 1980|
|Hubie Brown||Atlanta Hawks, Memphis Grizzlies||1978, 2004|
|Cotton Fitzsimmons||Kansas City Kings, Phoenix Suns||1979, 1989|
|Mike D’Antoni||Phoenix Suns, Houston Rockets||2005, 2017|
|Mike Budenholzer||Atlanta Hawks, Milwaukee Bucks||2015, 2019|
|Tom Thibodeau||Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks||2011, 2021|
— Overtime (@overtime) April 26, 2022
Established in 2012, the Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year trophy is awarded to the player that exemplifies the ideal teammate and selfless play, commitment, and dedication to the team. The award is named after Jack Twyman and Maurice Stokes. The two were teammates on the Royals from 1955-to 1958, until a head injury ended the career of Maurice Stokes. As a result of the injury, Stokes became paralyzed – at that point Twyman became the legal guardian of his former teammate Stokes until his passing in 1970.
Each year six players from each conference are selected by a panel of “NBA Legends” as nominees for the award. The winner is then voted upon by NBA players via a weighted point system. As a part of the reward, the NBA makes a $25,000 donation to the charity of the winner’s choice.
Congrats @DevinBook on winning the 2020-21 Seasonlong NBA Cares Community Assist Award!
The honor recognizes his exceptional community outreach in the greater Phoenix area over the past several months via the Devin Booker Starting Five. pic.twitter.com/1IyTGgc9LH
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) July 7, 2021
The NBA Cares Community Assist Award is internally voted upon, rewarding players for community engagement, philanthropic activity, and charity work. The award has been given out both during and after the season in a cumulative and monthly format. The winner is presented the David Robinson Plaque, inscribed on it “Following the standard set by NBA Legend David Robinson, who improved the community piece by piece.”
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) April 24, 2022
The NBA Sportsmanship Award has been given out since the 1995-1996 season. It is awarded to the player who “exemplifies the ideals of sportsmanship on the court with ethical behaviour, fair play, and integrity.” Named after its inaugural winner Joe Dumars, it is equivalent to its sister league the WNBA’s Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award.
Each year all 30 NBA teams nominate a single player from their team for the award. From the nominees, one player from each division is selected by a panel as the divisional winners of the Sportsmanship Award. At the conclusion of the regular season, players in the NBA vote upon the nominees via a weighted points system.
Bill Russell stole the show at the NBA Awards. pic.twitter.com/BnBgUIqyZy
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) June 27, 2017
The NBA Lifetime Achievement Award is given to a former NBA Player who has achieved exemplary success both on and off the basketball court. Via a fantastic NBA career and impactful work as a member of society, recipients of the NBA’s Lifetime Achievement Award are some of the best to ever call the NBA home.
— WBZ Boston Sports (@wbzsports) June 25, 2019
The NBA Hustle Award is the newest of NBA Awards. It is awarded to the player with the highest aggregate hustle score each year. It is calculated by: Minimum of 50 games played, minimum average of 15 minutes per game, accumulated hustle stats including screen assists, deflections, loose balls recovered, charges drawn, and shots contested.
The winner of the inaugural NBA Hustle Award was Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics.
Grizzlies’ Zach Kleiman named by NBA as the Basketball Executive of the Year. pic.twitter.com/P3En6OVqEM
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpears) May 12, 2022
The NBA Executive of the Year Award recognizes notable achievements by an NBA teams General Manager. Before 2009, the Executive of the Year Award was presented by Sporting News, but was later recognized officially by the NBA. Voting is conducted by executives of each of the NBA’s 30 teams. The GM with the most votes wins the award.
“Make your mess your message.”
Robin Roberts wins the Sager Strong award ? pic.twitter.com/3j7K3Y7WKv
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 25, 2019
The Sager Strong Award was established in 2017 in honour of long-time NBA reporter Craig Sager (1951-2016). It is presented to an individual who “Has been a trailblazer while exemplifying courage, faith, compassion, and grace.” Rather than receiving a trophy, the winner receives a replica blazer, which mimics the flamboyant style of Craig Sager.
The NBA’s highest individual award would be the NBA Most Valuable Player Award. The NBA MVP Award celebrates the sustained success of a single player, over the course of a regular season, who has performed at a higher level than any of his NBA peers.
The highest award that a team can achieve in the NBA is the NBA Championship, and subsequently the Larry O’Brien Trophy. The trophy celebrates the winner of the NBA Playoffs, a team that has overcome the 82-game regular season as well as winning the five-round NBA Playoffs.
The player to win the most Most Valuable Player awards in NBA history is NBA Legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The NBA’s all-time points leader, 38387 points in 1560 career games, has won the MVP Award 6 times in his career.Three of his MVP Awards were earned as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks, one under the name Lew Alcindor, and another three with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Americans have dominated the NBA Most Valuable Player Award throughout the NBA’s history. However, the globalization of the NBA and basketball as a whole has grown the game and quality of international players exponentially.There have been five international players to win the NBA MVP Award. Three of those five winners are two-time winners of the NBA MVP Award. International players who won the NBA MVP Award include:SeasonPlayerPositionNationalityTeamSchool/Former Club1993-94Hakeem OlajuwonCenterNigeriaHouston RocketsHouston2004-05Steve NashPoint GuardCanadaPhoenix SunsSanta Clara2005-06Steve Nash (2)Point GuardCanadaPhoenix SunsSanta Clara2006-07Dirk NowitzkiPower ForwardGermanyDallas MavericksDJK Würzburg (GER)2018-19Giannis AntetokounmpoPower ForwardGreeceMilwaukee BucksFilathlitikos (GRE)2019-20Giannis Antetokounmpo (2)Power ForwardGreeceMilwaukee BucksFilathlitikos (GRE)2020-21Nikola JokicCenterSerbiaDenver NuggetsMega Basket (SRB)2021-22Nikola JokicCenterSerbiaDenver NuggetsMega Basket (SRB)
The oldest NBA Award was introduced in 1947, during the NBA’s inaugural season. The Walter A. Brown Trophy was awarded to the winner of the NBA Finals. It wasn’t until 30 years later that the Larry O’Brien Trophy replaced it, but both trophies were awarded for the same achievement.Also awarded in 1947 was the honor of being named to the All-NBA Team. To this day, the All-NBA Team honors players who were among the best performers that season.
The newest awards were implemented in the 2022 NBA Season, with a record 10 being established in one season.Six trophies are given to the teams that win their division:Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton Trophy (Atlantic)Wayne Embry Trophy (Central)Earl Lloyd Trophy (Southeast)Willis Reed Trophy (Southwest)Sam Jones Trophy (Northwest)Chuck Cooper Trophy (Pacific)’Two trophies are awarded to the teams that win their Conference Finals playoff series:Bob Cousy Trophy (East)Oscar Robertson Trophy (West)And the final two trophies are awarded to the most outstanding players in their respective Conference Finals Playoff series:Eastern Conference Finals Most Valuable Player – Larry Bird TrophyWestern Conference Finals Most Valuable Player – Earvin “Magic” Johnson Trophy
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Christian Jope is a writer, social media strategist, and data analyst. A Queen’s University Alumni, Christian is an author and social media strategist with Raptors Cage, while also working closely with MLSE and Canada Basketball through community-driven events.
Email: [email protected]More info on Christian Jope
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