After their win over the Dallas Mavericks on Monday, the Los Angeles Lakers are now officially halfway through the 2018-19 NBA regular season. Time flies when you’re constantly worrying about whether or not your team has what it takes to make the playoffs in the Western Conference.
Of course, with the first half of the season now in the rearview, it’s time to give out the 2018-19 NBA midseason awards!
The NBA midseason awards are exactly like the awards given out at the end of the season, except there is no pointless awards show nor is there financial incentive to winning them. These particular awards will be given exclusively to the Lakers that have or haven’t impressed in the first half of the season.
As always, I would like to thank our readers in advance for being tolerant and respectful of the opinions shared in this article. I’m confident these will all be received well with little-to-no objections.
Without further ado ...
Rookie of the Year: Svi Mykhailiuk
So it turns out Svi Mykhailiuk isn’t the second coming of Jesus Shuttlesworth — or at least he isn’t yet — because of a few impressive games during Las Vegas Summer League. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s been bad.
Despite not being able to get his 3-ball to fall with any consistency (33.3 percent), Mykhailiuk has provided decent minutes for the Lakers off of the bench when his number has been called. He’s even had two games where he’s scored in double figures.
His most impressive feat of the season so far, though, was scoring 47 points during an assignment with the South Bay Lakers in December. The 47 points he poured in on the Northern Arizona Suns is tied for the most points scored by a G League player this season.
Mykhailiuk will continue to get reps in the G League with South Bay, and hopefully that will help him get to a point where he can start knocking down open 3-point shots with ease. If he can do that, he’ll have a regular spot in Luke Walton’s rotation in no time.
Honorable mention: Isaac Bonga
Sixth Man of the Year: Josh Hart
Rajon Rondo absolutely deserved consideration for this meaningless award, but he’s only appeared in 14 games for the Lakers this season. It’s for that reason, among others, that this one goes to Josh Hart.
With the exception of a few rough games in December, Hart has been the heart and soul of the Lakers’ second unit.
While he trails Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in points per game off of the bench by a fraction, he has the second-highest net rating (+3.5) of any Laker that averages at least 20 minutes per game. Rajon Rondo has the highest net rating (+4.2) but in a much smaller sample size.
Hart has also done a fantastic job of adapting to the curve balls Walton has thrown at him due to the injuries on the team. There was a point during the season where Hart was the team’s starting power forward.
His shooting has taken a step back from where it was earlier in the season, but luckily Hart does plenty of other things that make him valuable on the court. Hart is the ultimate glue guy and an easy choice for this team’s Sixth Man of the Year.
Honorable mention: Tyson Chandler
Most Improved Player: JaVale McGee
We’re now 41 games into the regular season and JaVale McGee is still playing his role with the Lakers perfectly.
This season, McGee is averaging a career-high 11.6 points per game on 60.5 percent shooting from the field. He’s also averaging a career-high 2.4 blocks and 6.9 rebounds per game.
The only other players averaging least 10 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks per game this season? Hassan Whiteside, Anthony Davis and Myles Turner.
He’s been really good and a lot of fun to watch, and luckily, there’s no reason to believe that he will cease to be either of those things any time soon.
Honorable mention: Ivica Zubac
Least Improved Player: Brandon Ingram
To some readers, this might be viewed as the “Most Disappointing Player Award,” but it’s not. It’s simply the player that has improved the least from last season to this season and, statistically speaking, that player has been Brandon Ingram.
It’s true that Ingram is averaging a career-high 16.5 points per game, but that’s only a slight improvement from the 16.1 points per game he averaged last year. Looking at a traditional box score, that’s where his statistical improvement ends.
That’s not to say Ingram hasn’t been good, it’s just that he’s as good as he was last year. For a third-year, former No. 2 overall pick, fans were hoping he’d show signs of a breakout this season, and that just hasn’t happened.
Hopefully Ingram can start to pick up some steam in the second half of the season.
Honorable mention: Lonzo Ball
Most Valuable Player: LeBron James
The Lakers have played seven games without LeBron James this season. They lost five of those games, two of which came against below .500 teams.
That’s not just his case for the Lakers’ Most Valuable Player, that’s the beginning of his case for the real thing at the end of the season.
James is also on pace to average the most points per game he’s averaged since he won his first NBA MVP award in 2009, despite the fact that he’s averaging the fewest minutes per game of his career.
Once he returns from injury, the second half of James’ season will be committed to carrying the Lakers to their first playoff berth in six years. There’s still a lot of time left in the season, but it looks like he’s going to do just that. That makes him the most valuable player on the Lakers, and possibly the best one in the league.
Honorable mention: Kyle Kuzma