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NBA announces finalists for 2016-17 season awards

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

On Friday night, the NBA announced the finalists for its end-of-the-year awards.

It began with the 2016-17 Kia NBA Most Improved Player of the Year Award in Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert and Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic.

Antetokounmpo set new career highs in points, rebounds and assists, helping to lead the Bucks back to the postseason. He averaged 22.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game, playing in 35.6 minutes per night for Milwaukee.

The season prior, he averaged 16.9 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, increasing his shooting percentage from 50.6 percent to 52.1 percent from the field overall.

Jazz center Rudy Gobert earned Second-team All-NBA honors for his performance during the regular season. He finished second in the NBA in field-goal percentage, hitting 66.1 percent of his shots from the floor, while also leading the league in blocked shots at 2.6 per night. For the first season in his career, he averaged a double-double with 14.0 points and 12.8 rebounds per game.

Gobert would also go on to be named as a Defensive Player of the Year finalist.

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic averaged 16.7 points per game, up from 10.0 during his rookie year. He nearly averaged a double-double, adding 9.8 rebounds per game for the Nuggets, who narrowly missed out on making the playoffs.

Next up was the Kia NBA Sixth Man Award, which saw Houston Rockets/Los Angeles Lakers guard Lou Williams, Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala, and Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon, named as finalists.

Williams averaged a career-high 17.5 points per game during the season, playing his final 23 games of the year as a member of the Rockets after a mid-season trade. He started just one game during the regular season.

His teammate, Gordon, averaged a career-high 3.3 made 3-pointers per game, averaging 16.2 points per game for the year. He started 15 of the 75 games he appeared in, firing up 8.8 3s per night.

Iguodala failed to start a game during the season for the second time in his career, averaging 7.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game for the Warriors.

The three finalists for the NBA Defensive Player of the Year are Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard and Jazz center Gobert.

Green led the NBA in steals during the regular season at 2.03 per game, joining John Wall as the only players in the league to average multiple steals per game.

Gobert led the league in blocks at 2.6 per game and was fourth in the NBA in rebounds at 12.8 per contest.

Leonard has been widely heralded as one of the premier defenders in the league, while also averaging 25.5 points per game on the offensive end.

The three finalists for the 2016-17 Kia NBA Rookie of the Year are Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, 76ers forward Dario Saric and Milwaukee Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon.

Despite appearing in just 31 games, Embiid averaged 20.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game in 25.4 minutes of action.

His teammate, Saric, played in 81 games and averaged 12.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, taking off during the second half of the season.

A second-round pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Brogdon averaged 10.2 points and 4.2 assists per game, while making 28 starts with the Bucks.

The three NBA Coach of the Year finalists are Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni, and San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.

Spoelstra oversaw a Heat team that finished 41-41, but missed out on the playoffs due to a tiebreaker scenario.

D’Antoni led the league’s second-most prolific offense, which fired a record number of 3-pointers, also making a record number in his first season at the helm.

Popovich oversaw a Spurs team that went 61-21, allowing the second-fewest points per game in the league.

The three finalists for the Kia NBA MVP Award were Houston Rockets guard James Harden, Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook and San Antonio Spurs forward Leonard.

Westbrook became the first player since Oscar Robertson to average a triple-double for the length of an entire season, finishing with 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game. He led the league in scoring for the second time in his career, as he helped Oklahoma City to the playoffs in their first season since the departure of Kevin Durant.

Harden finished second in the league in scoring behind Westbrook, averaging 29.1 points, 11.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds per game. His assists led the league on a nightly basis, while making a career-high 3.2 threes per night.

Leonard was named as a Defensive Player of the Year finalist, averaging a career-high 25.5 points per game for the Spurs. He also added 5.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game, attempting more than 17 shots per game — a new career high for him. He has seen his scoring average increase each of his six years in the league.

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