Thunder in the news: Russell Westbrook, Nick Collison win NBPA awards

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 26: OKC Thunder players Russell Westbrook and Nick Collison celebrate onstage during the 2017 NBA Awards Live on TNT on June 26, 2017 in New York, New York. 27111_002 (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for TNT)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 26: OKC Thunder players Russell Westbrook and Nick Collison celebrate onstage during the 2017 NBA Awards Live on TNT on June 26, 2017 in New York, New York. 27111_002 (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for TNT) /

OKC Thunder players Russell Westbrook and Nick Collison win NBPA awards.

With the NBA Finals tipping off it’s also the time in the season when awards are handed out. The NBPA is handing out 12 awards. Four have been determined and two OKC Thunder players factored among the winners.

The Freshest Award:

Not a big surprise Russell Westbrook took this award and rather convincingly (71 percent). As per NBPA the artist for this piece is Jack Perkins.

Westbrook’s competition was LeBron James (17%), James Harden (7%) and Devin Booker (5%). The Players Voice Awards are different from the typical awards (see bottom for definitions of each award). With LeBron James showing up with the suit-shorts ensemble to Game 1 of the NBA Finals it might have swung the pendulum in a larger degree toward Westbrook. As per NBPA the description of the Freshest Awards was:

"This player proved that having style & flavor transcends past the hardwood."

Backbone Award:

Mr. Thunder himself took the Backbone Award for the OKC Thunder. Nick Collison isn’t a surprise in this category although Westbrook, Steven Adams or Andre Roberson would all be equally deserving or understandable. One player from every team was honored with this hardware as voted on by their teammates.

"Dedicated to the players that are the heart & soul of their team, he brings 100% to his squad!"

Several former OKC Thunder players also won for their teams including the Knicks Enes Kanter, Wolves Taj Gibson and Pacers Victor Oladipo.

Here’s the individuals by team who got the nod:

Atlantic Division:

  • Boston Celtics: Marcus Smart
  • Brooklyn Nets: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
  • Philadelphia 76ers: T.J. McConnell
  • New York Knicks: Enes Kanter
  • Toronto Raptors: Kyle Lowry

Central Division:

  • Chicago Bulls: Bobby Portis
  • Cleveland Cavaliers: LeBron James
  • Detroit Pistons: Andre Drummond
  • Indiana Pacers: Victor Oladipo
  • Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo

Southeast Division:

  • Atlanta Hawks: Kent Bazemore
  • Charlotte Hornets: Kemba Walker
  • Miami Heat: Udonis Haslem
  • Orlando Magic: Marreese Speights
  • Washington Wizards: John Wall

Northwest Division:

  • Denver Nuggets: Richard Jefferson
  • Minnesota Timberwolves: Taj Gibson
  • OKC Thunder: Nick Collison
  • Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard
  • Utah Jazz: Jae Crowder

Pacific Division:

  • Golden State Warriors: Draymond Green
  • LA Clippers: DeAndre Jordan
  • LA Lakers: Julius Randle
  • Phoenix Suns: Alan Williams
  • Sacramento Kings: Vince Carter

Southwest Division:

  • Dallas Mavericks: Wesley Matthews
  • Houston Rockets: PJ Tucker
  • Memphis Grizzlies: Marc Gasol
  • New Orleans Pelicans: Anthony Davis
  • San Antonio Spurs: LaMarcus Aldridge

The artist (Bob Lian) deserves major props for this illustration. As per the site Lian is known for his anime style work

Other categories:

The NBPA have eight additional awards still to be determined. The NBPA site lists the awards and descriptions as follows:

"More from Thunderous IntentionsStealing one player from every Southwest Division team for the OKC ThunderShould the OKC Thunder chase after a disgruntled hometown hero?3 OKC Thunder players who can step up in Aleksej Pokusevski’s absenceAleksej Pokusevski sidelined approximately 6 weeks with ankle injuryDamian Lillard does not fit with the OKC ThunderMr. Clutch: 5 secs on the 🕑…this is the player you want with the rock in his hands.Toughest to Guard: Dedicated to the player that is a terror for the opposition, no man can stop him from getting to the cupMVP: In a league of their own, this player proved flat out they were the best on the floor.People’s Champ: This 🥇 goes to the player who was influential off the court and continues to impact society.Most Respected: This goes to the vet who has their fingerprints all over the game, and leaves a legacy for the next generation.Best Side Hustler: Whether it’s a new venture or investment, this player has mastered the art of hustling off the court.Sneaker Champ: If it’s a pair of OG’s or the latest drops, this player’s 👟 game is A1.X-Factor: Given to the spark 🔌 off the bench, once he checks in –– the momentum of the game shifts."

Leader of New School and Locksmith Awards:

Two other awards completed were Leader of the New School. This award isn’t a typical rookie of the year award. Rather, it was limited to this year’s draft class and awarded based on if teams were to redraft how the picks would change. Donovan Mitchell won with 52 percent of the vote. His competition was Jayson Tatum (43%),  Markelle Fultz (3%) and Kyle Kuzma (2%). It sure would be interesting to see where these players are in five years. I suspect there would still be a heavy concentration on those top two players, but others like Lauri Markkanen and OG Anunoby may well be a factor by then.

The Locksmith Award (best on defensive side of hardwood) went to Rudy Gobert. I couldn’t find the list of his competitors. The assumption is the same players up for Defensive Player of the Year were among the candidates, but that’s a guess on my part.

OKC Thunder players could be up for more honors:

Moving forward there are several other categories OKC Thunder players could factor in. For example given the following tweet Paul George may be in the mix for sneaker game.

Since Westbrook does so much philanthropic work with his Why Not? charity he may be in the mix for People’s Champ. In fact, Westbrook may be in consideration for several of the remaining categories like Mr. Clutch, Toughest To Guard, Best Sideline Hustler etc.

TI will keep you posted on the awards as they are announced. In the interim make sure to check out Thunderous Intentions NBA Draft Prospect Series as the writing team presents analysis on the top 60 prospects.

Next: Painful little lies: Durant remains petty toward Thunder

Have a great Friday!