Portland Trail Blazers: Handing out 2021-2022 Season Awards

Welcome to the Portland Trail Blazers annual season awards, presented by us here at Rip City Project.

Trendon Watford, Portland Trail Blazers

Trendon Watford, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Portland Trail Blazers 2021-2022 Season Awards

Most Valuable Player:

The nominees for this soon-to-be coveted award are Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons, and Josh Hart. And the winner is…Anfernee Simons. This is Simons’ first nomination and win for this award. Simons carried the team on his back when Lillard and CJ McCollum were out of the lineup. Before his injury, Simons was averaging a career-high in points (17.3), assists (3.9), and rebounds per game (2.2), including a career-best 43 piece versus the Atlanta Hawks on January 3.

Most Improved Player:
This goes to Simons as well. Before the 2021-2022 season, he averaged 7.8 points and obviously saw his point total per game jump by nearly ten points this season.

Not only did his counting stats improve, but Ant also showed growth in every aspect of his game: shot creation, playmaking, defense, etc. Other nominees weren’t necessary, as Simons was the only acceptable choice, especially with Nassir Little’s season-ending injury.

Most Valuable Bigman:
The nominees for this prestigious award that’s been headlined by some pretty underwhelming talent in years past are Jusuf Nurkić, Trendon Watford, and Drew Eubanks. And the winner for Most Valuable Bigman…wait. What’s this? We have a tie. The co-winners are Nurkić and Eubanks. Some could argue against Nurkić after suffering his latest injury. However, we started to see how valuable he is to this team. He had good numbers in points per game (15.0) and a career-high in rebounds (11.1).

Eubanks was waived by the Toronto Raptors after a trade deadline deal with the San Antonio Spurs. He signed a ten-day contract with Portland on February 21. Since that initial contract, he earned and signed additional ten-days that will take him through the remainder of the season. He has filled in nicely, averaging career numbers for his hometown team with 14 points and 8.9 rebounds. Although Watford deserved a nomination, he has a ways to go before he is ready to contribute more so.

Best Newcomer:
The nominees here are Josh Hart, Brandon Williams, Drew Eubanks, and Justise Winslow. And the Best Newcomer award goes to Hart! Acquired at the deadline as part of the McCollum trade, Hart helped to make that trade more digestible. He came to Portland,  and instantly showed why he should be a fan favorite, and that he belongs in “Rip City.” He scored a career-high 44 in a win against the Washington Wizards on March 12. Even though his stats don’t compare to McCollum’s, he showed he can play hard, and it will be fun to see him in the lineup next season with Lillard and Simons.

Coach of the Year:
This one might come as a surprise. No, it is not Head Coach Chauncey Billups. Rather, this goes to his lead assistant Scott Brooks who deserves this more than Billups does right now. Billups is in his first year as coach of the Blazers, as well as in the NBA. The only experience he had was as an assistant on Tyronn Lue’s bench with the Clippers for a season. Brooks has had many years as an assistant, as well as a head coach. It has been very obvious that Billups is a rookie coach and has needed a mentor by his side, and Brooks was the best to fill that role. He even filled in for Billups while the new head play-caller was in the health and safety protocols.

Brooks’s mentorship and experience have shown themselves in Billups’s development as a coach throughout the season. That veteran savvy will surely come in handy again next season as the Trail Blazers gear up for a return to the playoffs.