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2020-21 fantasy basketball awards: MVP, ROY, MIP, biggest bust

Not only did Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic stuff box scores night in and night out across the board, but he played all 72 games for his fantasy managers. C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images

After a 2019-20 fantasy basketball season that never really had an ending, we fantasy sports junkies finally got to enjoy a blissful crowning of champions after the 2020-21 fantasy hoops campaign wrapped up on Sunday.

With any luck, the 2021-22 season will include a full 82-game slate, giving us even more fantasy hoops to enjoy. But as we put a bow on the 2020-21 season, our experts are here to dole out their end-of-season awards ... and name their top breakout baller for next season.

Fantasy MVP: H2H points

André Snellings: Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
Joe Kaiser: Russell Westbrook, Washington Wizards
Jim McCormick: Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
John Cregan: Russell Westbrook, Washington Wizards
Eric Karabell: Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets

Fantasy MVP: H2H categories

André Snellings: Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
Joe Kaiser: Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
Jim McCormick: Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
John Cregan: Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
Eric Karabell: Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets

Fantasy MVP: Roto

André Snellings: Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
Joe Kaiser: Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
Jim McCormick: Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
John Cregan: Julius Randle, New York Knicks
Eric Karabell: Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets

Biggest bust

André Snellings: Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers
Joe Kaiser: Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers
Jim McCormick: John Collins, Atlanta Hawks
John Cregan: Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
Eric Karabell: Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers

Biggest surprise

André Snellings: Julius Randle, New York Knicks
Joe Kaiser: Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers
Jim McCormick: Terry Rozier, Charlotte Hornets
John Cregan: Terry Rozier, Charlotte Hornets
Eric Karabell: Julius Randle, New York Knicks

Waiver-wire pickup of the season

André Snellings: T.J. McConnell, Indiana Pacers
Joe Kaiser: Chris Boucher, Toronto Raptors
Jim McCormick: T.J. McConnell, Indiana Pacers
John Cregan: Kyle Anderson, Memphis Grizzlies
Eric Karabell: Richaun Holmes, Sacramento Kings

Rookie of the year

André Snellings: Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves
Joe Kaiser: LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets
Jim McCormick: LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets
John Cregan: Tyrese Haliburton, Sacramento Kings
Eric Karabell: LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets

Most improved player

André Snellings: Michael Porter Jr., Denver Nuggets
Joe Kaiser: Julius Randle, New York Knicks
Jim McCormick: Julius Randle, New York Knicks
John Cregan: Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
Eric Karabell: Julius Randle, New York Knicks

Most fun player to roster

André Snellings: It was an absolute joy to have Jokic on a team this year, in every way. He probably wasn't the first pick, but he was No. 1 in production from wire to wire. Plus, he's just a joy to watch in real life. He plays like a dad-coach playing against the JV team, bigger than everyone else and capable of seeing and making the right pass in every situation. And every so often he'll pull out a full-court underhanded outlet off a rebound that hits his teammate in stride for a dunk and blows up the SportsCenter Top 10. Just because.

Joe Kaiser: Stephen Curry -- and I don't think it's close. He's the most entertaining player in sports. The shooting show he put on in the second half of the season, making at least 10 3s in four out of five games, is one of the more impressive feats in modern sports history when you consider only one other person (Klay Thompson) has even reached four games with 10 or more 3s made. On top of that, only five other players have ever even done it twice! Steph's flair for the dramatic, his ability to dribble himself open and make the impossible shot look routine make rooting for him incredibly fun.

Jim McCormick: Unequivocally, it's Chris Boucher. In just the second game of season, Boucher came off the bench for Toronto and produced 22 points and 10 rebounds in 28 minutes of play. Pretty cool. He also had seven blocks. Boucher finished the season -- even one that included some injuries - ranked sixth in total blocks, fourth in blocks per game, and third in the league in block percentage. Even in an otherwise lost season for the Raptors, Boucher became a statistical force -- especially as a starter -- with a bright future.

John Cregan: Mikal Bridges. All season, the reality-show-grade interplay of Chris Paul, Jae Crowder, and Phoenix's young upside has been my favorite League Pass dinner companion. Bridges was one of the best fantasy values of 2020-21. Depending on your league's format and size, he outperformed his ADP by a solid 6-8 rounds. He doesn't have the star cache of Paul, Booker or Ayton. But if you drafted him ... you were playing with house money. Bridges chips in across every category. He's shockingly steady. He doesn't need a lot of usage to produce. He's closing out with a bang. And ... I just enjoy the fact that Paul clearly digs him. Paul and the Suns were the most fascinating dynamic of the season. And in a little way, Paul and Bridges personifies that dynamic.

Eric Karabell: Curry. Not that I had many concerns, but Curry did miss all but five games of the 2019-20 season due to a broken hand, and when the Warriors lost Thompson again, we had to worry about the Golden State offense. Curry took care of it and then some, posting career bests in scoring, rebounding, 3-pointers and with remarkable accuracy in his shooting despite never shooting more! His shooting impact in roto leagues is fantastic! Curry remains a historically unique player, and while he should have more help around him in the fall, do not expect his numbers to drop much.

I'll never draft _____ again

André Snellings: I'll never draft Kyrie Irving again. I was already at that point entering this season, because his injury history was just too spotty to depend upon. But now, as he's becoming more socially conscious -- which may make him a better person, but it also makes him care less about basketball even when he is healthy. I just won't spend the early pick capital required for a player I can't rely on.

Joe Kaiser: Andre Drummond, because it seems the league isn't as high on him as fantasy managers. For the Cavs to pay him to sit 40 days before the trade deadline spoke volumes, and while Drummond has played alright splitting time in the Lakers' frontcourt, I am concerned about what's in store for him in the years ahead. Drummond has always been a fantasy favorite of mine, despite his struggles at the free throw line, but I'm going to shift away from him as the NBA has shifted towards centers who can shoot and pass -- two of Drummond's weakest areas.

Jim McCormick: I think Eric Bledsoe's run of value has come to an end. Once an elite source of steals with a balanced offensive profile, he's now sporting his lowest scoring clip since his third pro season, while posting one of his lowest true shooting rates of his career. If he sticks in New Orleans for the final year of his deal, I could see some blend of Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Kira Lewis Jr. taking his minutes, and that's not even considering the potential returns of Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart. Once capable of helping your fantasy rosters, I think those days are over for Bledsoe.

John Cregan: Julius Randle's 2020-21 makes me happy on many levels. I'm happy he's the greatest Tom Thibodeau fantasy reclamation project since Jimmy Butler. I'm happy everyone finally understands Randle is the best pure point guard in the TriState area. I'm happy Randle got to show the Lakers how badly they underestimated his skill set. And I'm happy for all of the long-suffering Knicks fans Randle is toting into the playoffs.

I adore Knicks fans. They offer an iconic mix of basketball knowledge, passion, and total blind irrationality.

Sadly, that final quality is why I'll never draft Randle again. Because I'll have to overdraft him by half a round just to have a shot at retaining his services. This is peak Randle: He just can't any better from a fantasy perspective. And New York fantasy fans are about to make 2021-22 Randle the highest-drafted Knick since 2011-12 Carmelo Anthony. If you're in a league with a Knicks fan, let them have him ... they've earned it.

Eric Karabell: John Wall, Houston Rockets. The numbers were actually fine, somewhat similar to his final season with Washington, but his Achilles tear from years ago cost him the elite quickness, and he was never much of a shooter to start with. Oh, and staying healthy remains a challenge. The rebuilding Rockets would love to unload Wall's contract, so whatever the team surrounds center Christian Wood with in the fall, even if Wall is still around, it seems unlikely they or we can count on him for big fantasy numbers again.

Top breakout player for 2021-22

André Snellings: Nickeil Alexander-Walker is ready to blast off in New Orleans. He was outstanding in the Las Vegas Summer League before his rookie season, and in the first start of his sophomore season, he exploded for 37 points, 8 rebounds and 5 3-pointers. In 12 starts on the season, he scored 30 or more points three times and at least 20 another two. There are rumors that Ball may be traded in the offseason, in part to give Alexander-Walker more minutes. If he gets them, watch out.

Joe Kaiser: I like to look at second- or third-year players, and the guy I have my sights set on for next season is Sacramento's Tyrese Haliburton. The Kings struck gold when the affable Iowa State product slipped to No. 12 in last year's NBA draft. Haliburton logged big minutes (30.1 MPG) as a rookie and looked like a five-year vet from Day 1. He is efficient (47.2 FG%, 40.9 3FG%, 85.7 FT%) and averaged 13.0 PPG, 5.3 APG and 1.3 SPG in his first NBA campaign, which makes it fun to think about next season and beyond for the rising point guard.

Jim McCormick: In terms of a player who can really take a full-tier leap to become a special statistical option, I'm going with Michael Porter Jr. of the Nuggets. This isn't so bold or daring, given his trajectory thus far as a pro, but I just think there is another level as a scoring force for this guy to the degree that a sustainable leap to the 25 PPG range with strong peripherals is entirely possible. With Jamal Murray likely spending much of next season working his way back to form, Porter Jr. might just become the scoring engine next to Jokic.

John Cregan: P.J. Washington PF/C, Charlotte Hornets. Every season, one of my preseason sleepers takes a couple of late, understated leaps in his development. Not big enough to proclaim a real-time breakout. But just enough to position himself for the breakout come fall. Washington is that sleeper. Look at his leaps. First, his post-All Star Break line: 14.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.1 steals, 1.3 blocks, 2.2 3s. Then, the last month: 18.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.2 blocks, 3.2 3s.

Washington is still an inconsistent shooter. But the peaks are starting to stabilize. Over the last month, his TS% is clocking at 62.0%. And that's with Washington mired in a free throw slump (60.7 FT%). The key: starting Washington at center. Starting as a small-ball 5, Washington is like peak Boris Diaw ... but with better defense and fewer assists. Charlotte has cap space to burn this offseason. If you're a fantasy maven, you're hoping they target small forwards and let the P.J. Washington experiment continue.

Eric Karabell: Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies. His season delayed by knee surgery, Jackson still oozes potential, and he is only 21. Jackson offers the rare combination of 3-pointers with blocked shots, and if he feels like rebounding more, we could have a well-rounded, 20-plus-point scorer providing across-the-board production. He hits 3s! He defends! Ja Morant and Jackson can each score 20 points per night! Health is about the only thing that has held Jackson back, but there should be legitimate expectations for the fall.