2018-19 NBA Midseason Awards: James Harden runs away with MVP; Luka Doncic unanimous Rookie of the Year

We're more than halfway through the 2018-19 NBA season, and it's already been an incredible ride. From LeBron James donning a Los Angeles Lakers uniform to James Harden going on an unprecedented scoring binge, there have been plenty of storylines to keep basketball fans busy.

With that in mind, we've decided to take a moment to honor those players who have been a head above the rest for the first half of the season, and present our 2018-19 NBA Midseason Awards. Below are midseason picks from our CBS NBA staff on MVP, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, Most Improved Player, Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year.

Keep in mind that these are based on performance so far, not projecting who will win the award at the end of the season. We've also tallied up the votes to determine winners of each award, and written a little bit about why they're worthy. We'll see if any or all of them end up taking home the hardware at the end of the season.

2018-19 NBA Midseason Awards Picks

2018-19 NBA Coach/Executive of the Year Picks

ExpertCoach of the YearExecutive of the Year

Raja Bell

Mike Malone, Nuggets

Masai Ujiri, Raptors

Bill Reiter

Mike Malone, Nuggets

Masai Ujiri, Raptors

Reid Forgrave

Mike Budenholzer, Bucks

Masai Ujiri, Raptors

James Herbert

Dave Joerger, Kings

Masai Ujiri, Raptors

Brad Botkin

Mike Budenholzer, Bucks

Sam Presti, Thunder

Colin Ward-Henninger

Mike Budenholzer, Bucks

Masai Ujiri, Raptors

Jack Maloney

Mike Budenholzer, Bucks

Masai Ujiri, Raptors

DJ Siddiqi

Mike Malone, Nuggets

Masai Ujiri, Raptors

Michael Kaskey-Blomain

Mike Budenholzer, Bucks

Sam Presti, Thunder

Chris Bengel

Mike Budenholzer, Bucks

Sam Presti, Thunder

Michael Bohlin

Nick Nurse, Raptors

Masai Ujiri, Raptors

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P.G., James Harden and Luka Doncic had award-winning first halves. Graphic by Michael Meredith (CBS Sports)

Most Valuable Player

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James Harden HOU • SG • 13
PPG35.7
APG8.5
SPG2.1
3P/G4.929

The Rockets' season started so poorly that it became fashionable to compare it to 2015-16, the year Kevin McHale got fired and they finished 41-41. "I understand the parallels that people are drawing," Houston general manager Daryl Morey said on on NBC Sports' Tom Haberstroh's podcast in early December, adding that humans are good at finding patterns regardless of whether or not they exist. Unlike that disappointing year, though, the Rockets got their act together, largely thanks to James Harden playing some of the best offensive basketball the league has ever seen. That is not hyperbolic -- Houston has gone from 11-14 to 26-19 because Harden has averaged 41.9 points, 8.7 assists and 7.3 rebounds in the last 20 games, with a 63.3 percent true shooting percentage and 41.4 percent usage rate. There is little precedent for any individual player doing this much, at this level of efficiency, but Harden has done it with such consistency that most of us take it for granted. -- James Herbert  

Rookie of the Year

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Luka Doncic DAL • SF • 77
PPG20.0
APG5.1
SPG1.2
3P/G2.409

There's really not much explanation required with this one. Doncic catapulted himself out of the Rookie of the Year conversation and into the All-Star conversation early in the season, and hasn't looked back. The numbers and signature clutch moments are there, sure, but it's the maturity with which the 19-year-old plays that has garnered him praise from NBA pundits and fellow players alike. Draymond Green said it best after the Warriors beat the Mavericks in December: "That dude is good. He gonna be a problem. He's already a problem." Barring a catastrophic injury, there certainly won't be any problems for Rookie of the Year voters come June. -- Colin Ward-Henninger

Defensive Player of the Year

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Paul George LAC • SF •
PPG26.7
APG4.0
SPG2.3
3P/G3.432

George is having the best offensive season of his career, so it's pretty remarkable that his defense might be even more impressive. We talk a lot about "two way" players, and George has been exemplary in that respect this season. He leads the NBA in steals and is third in defensive win shares behind Rudy Gobert and Giannis Antetokounmpo, according to Basketball Reference, but neither of those players has the assignment of guarding the other team's best perimeter player every single night. The Thunder managed to have the best defensive rating in the NBA for much of the first half without Andre Roberson, one of the best defenders in the league, and much of that credit goes to George. -- Colin Ward-Henninger

Sixth Man of the Year

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Domantas Sabonis IND • PF • 11
PPG15.0
RPG9.6
BPG.5

For the second straight season, Sabonis has made a leap. One of the most hardworking players in the league, Sabonis has plenty of skill as well, and is nearly putting up a double-double off the bench. Through the first half of the season, he's averaging 15 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. And perhaps most impressively, he's shooting over 61 percent from the field -- up from just 39 percent as a rookie. -- Jack Maloney

Most Improved Player

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Pascal Siakam TOR • PF • 43
PPG15.0
RPG7.0
BPG.7

Last season, Pascal Siakam was a solid role player for the Raptors, a versatile energy guy for a team built around star guards. Now he's indispensable, a major part of the team's identity, and he is starting to be viewed as a star himself. There is little Siakam does on the floor that he didn't have the capacity to do in 2017-18, but, with more reps and responsibility, he has become a totally different kind of weapon. The massive increases in scoring, usage and free-throw percentage tell some of the story, but nothing illustrates his leap better than the fact that coach Nick Nurse gave him the ball on the final possession of last Thursday's game against Phoenix with full confidence that he could do what he did. -- James Herbert  

Coach of the Year

Mike Budenholzer, Bucks: The Milwaukee Bucks have catapulted to the top of the Eastern Conference this season and Mike Budenholzer is one of the biggest reasons for that. The Bucks made a few minor tweaks from last season's roster and now the team owns the second-best offense in the entire NBA. This group is certainly going to be a tough out when the postseason rolls around. -- Chris Bengel

Executive of the Year

Masai Ujiri, Raptors: He traded for Kawhi Leonard. I mean, seriously, it's not any more complicated than that. He acquired a top-five player player in the league and somehow got Danny Green as a throw-in in the deal. -- Jack Maloney

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