A typical NBA awards race usually includes a few heavy favorites along with some more open races. Giannis Antetokounmpo was a near certainty to repeat as the 2019 MVP, and sure enough, he did so in 2020. Defensive Player of the Year is typically won dynastically; only 12 players have taken home the trophy in the past 24 years. Over the past decade, half of the Rookie of the Year winners were No. 1 overall picks. Drama is sprinkled in intermittently. Generally, most of the races are predictable.
Good luck predicting anything in 2020. No single player has had listed MVP odds better than four-to-one so far, and Rookie of the Year favorite LaMelo Ball is only slightly better at +350. The Defensive Player of the Year race features the reigning winner, a former winner re-entering the playoff picture, a two-time winner still in his prime and the almost-Finals MVP that might be better than all of them.
In other words, the award races have never been less predictable. Candidates will have to deal with COVID-19 and all of the resulting changes in protocol, a condensed 2020-21 schedule and a shortened offseason that will certainly impact team chemistry. If the world has shown us anything over the past year, it's that anything can happen. That is the theme entering the most unpredictable set of awards races entering a season in recent NBA history. Below is our attempt to sort through the chaos and pick the likeliest winners out of crowded fields.
Coach of the Year
Executive of the Year