Washington’s End-of-Season Award Candidates Prediction for 2023-24
With the nba finals Long over and the Summer League complete, we are entering the darkest days of the NBA offseason. To break the monotony of this non-NBA summer, I want to talk about one of my favorite things about each NBA season: the awards. I’ll put together a full list of all my predictions for every major award in the near future, but for now I wanted to discuss which ones. washington wizards I think he’ll be in contention for season-ending awards, as well as DC’s crafty All-Star candidate.
Most improved player: Jordan Poole, Corey Kispert and Deni Avdija
The most improved player award is always hard to pin down: should it be a player who made the leap from stardom to superstardom or a player who came out of left field and exploded into an All-Star? The two previous winners, Ja Morant at 22 and Lauri Markkanen at 23, represent these two schools of thought respectively.
Kispert and Poole are far from favorites to win the award, but I would certainly put their names on the preseason contender list. The 2023-24 Wizards are a group unfettered by expectations, so there will be plenty of stats to go around. Poole averaged over 20 points per game last season, but when he broke out as the number one scoring option, he could see his scoring average rise to nearly 30 points per game.
I think Kispert is the more likely candidate of the two, and is the more “out of left field” MIP candidate. The third-year forward averaged 11 points per game last year, but in the last eight games of the season with a greener light than ever, he’s scored 19 points per game on shooting splits just shy of 50/40/90. . His 3-point percentage during that span was a blistering 44.3%.
With Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis out, the Wizards will be relying on Kispert to score more, and he’s already shown flashes of being an elite shooter. If he puts him together for a full season next year, he could be a sleeper candidate for the Most Improved Player award.
As I formulate my full award predictions for this season, I keep coming back to Avdija as a potential favorite for the Most Improved Player award. He has improved marginally in each of his three NBA seasons, but he has yet to become the player that analysts like Kevin O’Connor of the ringer set it as (O’Connor had Avdija fourth in your big board in 2020though I’m not sure how seriously this ranking should be taken considering Killian Hayes was O’Connor’s number one prospect).
Over the past three years, Avdija has shown flashes of basically everything. Sometimes he’s a great rebounder, sometimes he hands out skillful assists, sometimes he knocks down the 3-pointer, sometimes he blocks the best player on the opposing team; the problem is its inconsistency. Avdija is still only 22 years old, and I’d be surprised if he at least isn’t remembered for his career as a top-level role-player. 2024 could be the year he finally gets the ball rolling.
Rookie Team: Bilal Coulibaly
I’d bet my house on Victor Wembanyama to win Rookie of the Year, and I’d throw in my life savings to spread the bet to either Wembanya or Scoot Henderson. However, Coulibaly, the No. 7 pick out of France, is a pretty good pick to make the All-Rookie team. Coulibaly averaged 12 points and 5 rebounds per game in Summer League, and showed flashes of All-Defense potential. If he can produce even 70% of what he showed in Summer League in his rookie year, he has a chance to make the All-Rookie team.
Considering he’s more of a project than an NBA-ready prospect (Coulibaly is just 18), he could be forgiven for struggling not only in his rookie year but in his early years in the league as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if he made the All-Rookie Team, but I wouldn’t bet on that either.
All-Star: Kyle Kuzma
I’m writing an article predicting the 2023-24 All-Stars soon, including a long list of players I considered but ultimately left; Kuzma will be a member of that list. Poole will almost certainly usurp Kuzma as Washington’s easiest trigger puller, but expect Kuzma to soak up a big chunk of Kristaps Porzingis’s stats from last year. Kuzma averaged 21 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists per game last season, and I estimate that he brings his points to about 24 and his rebounds to about 9.5 per game.
Kuzma is unlikely to receive an All-Star nomination; but in the words of Lloyd Christmas, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance.”