The NBA usually gives its regular season awards during the playoffs. Last year, the league announced Steph Curry won Most Valuable Player on May 10. This season, things are running a bit differently.
Fans will have to wait until a ceremony slated for June 26 to find out who 100 independent media voters chose as Rookie of the Year, Most Improved Player, Defensive Player of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, Coach of the Year, and Most Valuable Player.
The Sixers aren’t in the playoffs. Only Dario Saric is likely to be considered for any of these league-wide awards.
Sixers fans won’t have anything to get excited about until the NBA Draft Lottery on May 16.
But that’s because they didn’t know the NBA’s most important awards would be going out today.
The 2016-17 End of Season Sixers Haircut awards follow the same pattern as the usual NBA awards. I kept six of the categories, and gave awards based on on-court haircut performance.
There were a couple of ground rules:
- Ben Simmons did not play this year, so he did not qualify for any awards.
- Joel Embiid’s restricted play and injuries kept him off the floor most of the season, and that was a consideration.
- TJ McConnell was limited to one haircut award.
- Awards could not be shared.
- The Executive of the Year Award was not given.
I struggled with these choices mightily. I evaluated game tape, tracked haircut trends of individual players through the season, and looked at hundreds of Instagram and Twitter posts.
In the end, there could only be one winner per category.
Without further ado, here are your 2016-17 Sixers End of Season Haircut Awards.
Rookie Haircut of the Year
Nerlens Noel ditched his signature cut before the 2016-17 season, trashing our hearts like some West Conshohocken rental property. This could have been the first season the Sixers went flat top-less since Noel’s arrival from Kentucky in 2013, though he was out with an injured knee for his rookie year.
I don’t know about you, but I appreciate the high fade into the flat top. It’s a classic look — in 2017, it’s a unique look.
Nerlens is a 6’ 11” center whose meanest basketball skills are blocking shots and dunking lobs. His haircut somehow made all of that look cooler, and I don’t think I can explain why.
If anyone ever tries to tells me that Iman Shumpert had the best NBA flat top in 2015-16, I don’t want none of their words.
Shumpert’s looked like it would topple over on a windy day in Cleveland. Noel’s was proper and firm, like Sam Hinkie negotiating pick swaps from his Blackberry.
Unfortunately, none of these awards belong to him.
Noel is not a rookie, so he doesn’t qualify for Rookie Haircut of the Year. He’s also not on the team anymore. He was traded to the Dallas Mavericks for Justin Anderson (who has sweet hair in his own right) and two second round picks.
Plus, Noel got rid of his super cool haircut and replaced it with an only kinda cool haircut.
All that being said, Noel left a flat-top void in Philadelphia, one that has yet to be filled entirely.
The person with the highest flat top potential on the current squad is Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. He’s only about halfway to Noel level. He needs a bit more length and a flatter top, but I see a ton of hair potential, especially for a guy who was picked 24th overall.
I like to say his flat top is in its rookie season. We can see the flashes. We see the growth. But we won’t know what his hair can really be until it has time to mature. I think he can get there.
Not all rookies can look like vets, and that’s not what this award is all about anyway.
TLC, if you’re reading this, do it for the fans.
Most Improved Haircut
If this were a league-wide award, and not just limited to the Sixers, this guy would be a front-runner.
TJ McConnell came into the NBA looking like a dude who got haircuts for strictly practical reasons. He looked like he should be running point in some Northeast Philly rec center, not for the Philadelphia 76ers.
This season, his second year as a pro, he became Mr. Steal Yo Girl.
McConnell averaged 26.3 minutes per game this season, and, inexplicably, 0 strands of hair moved per game, per SportVU Data (probably).
TJ McConnell does not use pomade in his hair — he uses Gorilla Glue.
Dario Saric said it best:
“It’s unbelievable. It’s like plastic. So many gel.”
Dario Saric is never allowed to leave Philadelphia
— max (@MaxRappaport) January 24, 2017
McConnell needed that hair upgrade to do what he did this year. It was part of a full-scale rebranding effort that included multiple game-winning shots and electrifying turnaround midrange jumpers. TJ proved to casual fans that he belongs on the team.
Getting rid of the “one on the sides, one on the top” cut was the best decision McConnell ever made, and it’s not even close.
Defensive Haircut of the Year
Richaun Holmes is unsure of what to do with his hair.
Sometimes he has this poofy, oblong cut. It’s sorta like a afro with the sides lopped off.
— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) February 4, 2017
Other times he has these ridiculous, wonderful braids.
I like to think that Holmes was watching a barista pour a latte one day, and felt inspired. He went to his barber shop and said, “Give me the latte leaf,” and showed them this picture.
NBA defense is hard, but Holmes looks to find every competitive advantage.
You don’t know what he’s going to bring haircut-wise on a night-to-night basis. Sometimes he rides out with the halfro, sometimes he goes with the latte leaf. Other teams never know what to expect.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say Holme’s wildcard approach to hair style makes him a better defender. I’m giving him this award based on that wildly speculative premise.
Sixth Man Haircut of the Year
It was really hard to decide what to do with Sixth Man Haircut of the Year, so let me defend this.
Robert Covington’s hair is awesome, but he started almost every game he played this year and I was secretly hoping he would hang onto the mohawk for a little bit longer.
Gerald Henderson had the classic oldhead shaved look, but it didn’t inspire admiration. Nik Stauskas is too Gordon Hayward-in-training to be a legitimate candidate. Jahlil Okafor is kinda fresh, but he hasn’t changed up since he entered the league.
Plus, the Sixers had so many injuries and lineup swaps this season that there was no true sixth man on the roster, and therefore, no obvious choice.
This award has to go to a haircut that brings a spark off the bench, a haircut that comes into the game and everyone knows it can carry a second unit. In this instance, it’s for long bangs that accent a hard head-fake. It’s for loose, jet black strands that collect into a wild goatee.
The soul patch is just the cherry on the cake.
Dario Saric does not win this award because of his beauty. He’s one of the least manicured 76ers. His facial hair looks like a Guy Faux mask that lost its razor. The rest looks like it’s constantly trying to fly off of his head.
But at least he’s original. In a world full of Malcolm Brogdons, he’s a Dario Saric.
Coach Haircut of the Year
I won’t waste much time on this. It goes to Brett Brown. He’s the only head coach of the Sixers, thus the only eligible candidate for the award.
But Brown does have some style. He clearly cares about his mostly-salt-with-a-dash-of-pepper look. It’s always styled with some sort of product and combed into place. For that, he deserves some recognition.
Good job, Brett.
Most Valuable Haircut
Sergio Rodriguez looks like a normal dude. At 6’ 3” he’s tall, but not NBA tall. He’s got this fairly unkempt beard, and you can tell he only gets his haircut like once a month.
That’s a solid haircut regimen, but not by NBA standards.
If he was nursing a Kenzinger in street clothes at Dirty Frank’s after dropping a 2-4-1 line on a cool Wednesday night, no one would notice his presence. No one would clamor for autographs. No one would buy his next round, unless they mistook him for Lil Dickey.
El Chacho was a long shot to win Most Valuable anything this season. He signed a one-year deal with the Sixers out of the Euroleague, and was viewed as more of a flyer than a substantial long-term piece.
Little did he know, someone, somewhere would be evaluating his (hair’s) night-by-night performance.
It’s not like he’s unfamiliar with such distinction. Rodriguez was Euroleague MVP in 2014. He was Spanish Supercup MVP in 2013. Way back in 2004, he was FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship MVP.
Now, he holds an even greater title.
Let’s go to the tape.
I don’t know why we went to the tape. That was just a cool highlight, which has nothing to do with the real reason we’re here.
Sergio Rodriguez doesn’t care what you think about his hair, and for that reason, he’s the Sixers 2016-17 Most Valuable Haircut.