NBA D-League 2015-16 Regular Season Award Winners

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Updated: April 3, 2016

Before this year’s D-League playoffs begin, it’s appropriate to look back on the season and recognize those who stood out from the rest.

Who votes on the league’s awards? All 19 head coaches are provided a ballot and ultimately decide on the winners of each award.

While the winners will be announced in the coming weeks, D-League Digest has named its own candidates deserving of receiving these year-end accolades. Some choices were fairly obvious, others were not, so let the debate rage on.

With that, let the fun begin.

Coach Of The Year

Dan Craig – Sioux Falls Skyforce

When your team breaks records, you deserve recognition. Crag was also named the Coach of The Month for December and January this past season. His team set a new record for most regular season wins in a single season (40).

Craig should earn this award in a landslide with this season’s accomplishments. Before making the move to Sioux Falls, Craig was an assistant coach for player development as a member of Erik Spoelstra’s staff with the Miami Heat.

Here’s what former NBA and D-League head coach Eric Musselman had to say about Sioux Falls accomplishments.

When history is made, recognition is deserved and there should be no reason why Craig doesn’t win this award after the season he put together in Sioux Falls.

Most Improved Player Of The Year

Xavier Munford – Bakersfield Jam

Munford is a last minute change for my awards ballot. Why? Because I’m nearly positive he will be overlooked for this award because of its criteria.

Munford’s numbers have improved across the board from last season to this year, but the criteria for the award is typically for in-season improvement.

While I wish that weren’t the case so players like Munford, who have grinded for nearly two seasons and finally earned an NBA call-up (Munford did just that with the Memphis Grizzlies this season) should be recognized for their dedication to improving their game.

Munford’s role increased in Bakersfield under new head coach Chris Jent and he flourished under the new regime. It was a dedication to defense which propelled Munford to NBA status, along with improving his 3-point shot by nearly 10 percent.

Xavier Munford's numbers from last season to this year, making the case why he should be named Most Improved Player.

Xavier Munford’s numbers from last season to this year, making the case why he should be named Most Improved Player.

Other Nominees: Brandon Ashley – Texas Legends, Axel Toupane – Raptors 905, Verdell Jones III – Santa Cruz Warriors

Defensive Player Of The Year

Josh Magette – Los Angeles D-Fenders

This was a tough award to hand out. One on hand, Liggins is the defensive anchor for the top-rated defensive team in the D-League. On the other hand, Magette posts a solid net rating of 5.7 and also appeared in more games than

While this certainly wasn’t an easy decision by any means, the nod has to go to Magette in this instance. The University of Alabama-Huntsville alum not only led the D-League in steals this year, but also posted a solid net rating of 5.7 for the D-Fenders.

While the case can be made for DeAndre Liggins, who was the top defensive player on the league’s best defensive team, Magette gets the nod because he appeared in more contests than Liggins, showcasing his durability and being that constant leader on the other end of the court.

Pesky, versatile, and pursuing the basketball at all costs. Magette puts his body on the line despite being one of the smaller players in the D-League.

Other Nominees: DeAndre Liggins – Sioux Falls Skyforce, Greg Whittington – Sioux Falls Skyforce

Impact Player Of The Year

Ryan Gomes – Los Angeles D-Fenders

Acquired on Jan. 7 off waivers, Gomes appeared in 31 games for Los Angeles, starting in 28 of those contests. Gomes averaged 18.2 points and 8.1 rebounds and helped to provide much needed depth for a D-Fenders team in transition.

Gomes helped provide stability to the roster after the call-up of Justin Harper to the Detroit Pistons as the team posted an 18-13 record with Gomes in the lineup.

Having appeared in nearly 500 contests during his NBA career, Gomes’ veteran leadership was felt with the D-Fenders team as he joined the team shortly before the D-League Showcase.

The 33-year old played his fair share of minutes per game, averaging 32 per contest while shooting 48% from the field.

Other nominees: David Stockton – Reno Bighorns, Erick Green – Reno Bighorns

Rookie Of The Year

Vince Hunter – Reno Bighorns

The UTEP alum made his mark this season with the Reno Bighorns, averaging 21.8 points on 58.9% from the field while grabbing 11.3 rebounds per contest as well.

Hunter was near the top of our weekly player rankings this past season, while continuing to show his dominance at the professional level in the interior while thriving in Reno’s uptempo system.

Hunter was also named to the D-League’s All-Star game while appearing in 31 contests this season for the Bighorns before accepting a buyout offer to play overseas in Greece with Panathinaikos.

Hunter made immediate contributions from the beginning of the season and was integral in the team’s No. 1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

Other Nominees: Will Cummings – Rio Grande Valley Vipers,

Most Valuable Player

Jarnell Stokes – Sioux Falls Skyforce

Stokes was the best player on the best team this season. With their standout record, it’s only fitting the MVP be awarded to the team that broke records this season. With that in mind, Stokes was quintessential to the team’s success.

Stokes season began with the Memphis Grizzlies. However, after being traded to the Miami Heat, Stokes found himself regularly in Sioux Falls. The Memphis native found himself traded once more to the Pelicans at the deadline for salary cap purposes.

After being waived by New Orleans, Stokes returned to Sioux Falls with a new purpose and a desire to return to the NBA.

Appearing in 28 games this season with the Skyforce, Sioux Falls posted a 24-4 record with Stokes in the lineup.

Stokes averaged 20.6 points per game on a ridiculous 66.5% from the field while also averaging over nine rebounds per contest.

We spoke to Stokes on a recent episode of the D-League Dialogue Podcast. Click here to give it a listen.

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