Written by: Jared Hammer – Staff Writing Intern (@jjjhammer)
| Western Conference Player
James Harden has been in the discussion for MVP all season long, and his numbers last month were once again outstanding, earning him the nod for the West’s top player for December.
Harden led his team to a 15-2 record, pushing the Rockets into the 3rd seed in the West, while averaging 28.3 points, 9.1 rebounds, and a league high 12 assists per contest. In the Rockets 17 games last month, Harden recorded 14 double doubles, and 5 triple doubles. Surprise, surprise, the Rockets won each game that the Beard put up one of those triple doubles. He was once again near the top for free-throws made per game at 8.9, accounting for more than half of his points scored last month.
Probably the most impressive thing about Harden’s December, was his numbers in back to backs. The Rockets played 6 games on no rest, winning them all, and Harden played nearly as well as he did on 2 days’ rest, averaging 30 points, 13 assists, and shooting 41% from behind the arc. 41 PERCENT, SHOOTING ALMOST 10 TRIPLES A GAME!!!
| Eastern Conference Player
After starting the season off with a 6-11 record, the Wizards rebounded in December going 10-5. Which brought them back to .500 before dropping their first two games of January. A great December led by John Wall has gotten the Wizards back in the playoff race. In his 15 December games, he averaged 24.5 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 10.7 assists, and had a double double in all but four appearances.
He was second in assists per game, behind only Harden, and led the NBA in steals (2.67). The Wizards go as John Wall does, and if they want to continue to be in the discussion for a playoff spot at the end of the year, Wall will have to keep this level of play up.
| Western Conference Rookie
Is it a coincidence that Buddy Hield has played better ever since Jrue Holiday returned to the Pelicans lineup? Hield was putting up just 4.7 points per game in October, followed by 7.4 in November, then last month once again bumped up his scoring by another three points to 10.6 ppg. Most notably though, was Hield’s 3-point accuracy last month. He made 33 of his 69 three point attempts for 48%, numbers very similar to that of Danny Green and Zach LaVine.
We’ve been waiting to see the talented shooter break out, and while he hasn’t quite done that yet, he’s playing more consistently and beginning to make an impact. And if can continue to knock down his shots from behind the arc, Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, and Pelicans fans will be very happy.
| Eastern Conference Rookie
Joel Embiid captured the East’s monthly award for the second straight month. Averaging 19.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks (good for 4th in the league) in December, Embiid led all rookies last month in points, rebounds, blocks, and free throws made. His audition for this year’s Rookie of the Year award continues and he’s no doubt the front runner.
The 76ers have only won 2 games without Embiid, and he played the best game of his career against the Nets last month, where he scored 33 points, added 10 rebounds, 3 blocks, and shot 70% from the field. Next, he followed up the announcement of December’s top rookie in the East by putting up a – 25 pts 8 reb – line against Karl-Anthony Towns on way to their first win of the new year over the Wolves.
Joel Embiid #NBAVote
— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) January 4, 2017