As the first half of the 2016-17 NBA season winds down and players head to New Orleans for the All-Star break, a number of candidates – some new, some regulars – have led the pack for each of the league’s coveted individual awards.

So far, the season’s been one of the most memorable in recent years for a battery of reasons. There’s a chance we could see a player average a triple-double for an entire season for the first time in more than half a century, the leading Rookie of the Year candidate was actually drafted more than two years ago, the Houston Rockets are redefining the long-ball era, again, and the Boston Celtics may be on the verge of challenging the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Eastern Conference crown.

Each of the above has made for some tight awards races for MVP, ROY, and Coach of the Year and it’s going to be very difficult for media members to make choices later this year.

Keep in mind all of these candidates and predictions are based solely on each player’s and team’s performance through the first half of the season. So, things could easily change after the second half.

RTX2Z97F Head coach Brad Stevens has positioned the Boston Celtics right behind the East-leading Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo: Reuters

Coach of the Year

Candidates: Brad Stevens, Celtics; Gregg Popovich, Spurs; Mike D’Antoni, Rockets; Quin Snyder, Jazz

This award usually goes to the coach who unexpectedly guides a team near the top of their conference or leads a dominant, record-breaking season. If that’s the case this season, both Stevens and D’Antoni have to be considered the frontrunners. Boston’s made the playoffs the last two seasons under Stevens but he currently has the Celtics at No. 2 in the East and only 2.5 games back of Cleveland for the top spot. D’Antoni unleashed guard James Harden and found his new Steve Nash, making Houston a real threat to San Antonio and Popovich, as well as the Warriors. Snyder’s positioned the Jazz to make the playoffs for the first time since 2012 and they are challenging for a top-four seed in the West. Popovich, meanwhile, just notched the Spurs and league record 20th consecutive winning season.

Prediction: Stevens may have the edge right now, but if Boston fades D’Antoni could take the lead.

RTSYJB9 Mavericks guard Yogi Ferrell has dazzled and outdone every rookie drafted in 2016. Photo: Reuters

Rookie of the Year

Candidates: Malcolm Brogdon, Bucks; Joel Embiid, Sixers; Jamal Murray, Pelicans; Buddy Hield, Pelicans; Dario Saric, Sixers; Yogi Ferrell, Mavericks

Is it too early to call the 2016 draft class just a big bunch of busts? No. 1 pick Ben Simmons hasn’t even touched the court due to injury, the Lakers’ No. 2 pick Brandon Ingram hasn’t really made any kind of an impact and not one rookie selected in the first round is averaging double-digits in points. Brogdon is third in scoring at 9.4 points per game and first in win shares at 2.4 while Dallas’ Ferrell went undrafted out of Indiana, was waived twice by Brooklyn and just a week ago signed a deal with Dallas. Ferrell’s played in only nine games with Dallas but he’s putting up 14.2 points and shooting better than 45 percent on twos and threes. The other borderline contenders in Murray and Hield have been wildly inconsistent and they are not helping their respective teams win. Embiid, who was the No. 3 overall pick in 2014’s class, is the clear pick if he can get back on the court after suffering a slight meniscus tear in his knee.

Prediction: Embiid in a landslide if he returns, but Ferrell and Brogdon are right there if he doesn’t.

Most Valuable Player

Candidates: LeBron James, Cavs; Kawhi Leonard, Spurs; Isaiah Thomas, Celtics; Kevin Durant, Warriors; James Harden, Rockets; Russell Westbrook, Thunder; John Wall, Wizards

Like Michael Jordan before him, James is clearly the best player on the planet but has to outdo his already incredible stats from years past in order to truly stand out to voters. Durant, right now and probably when voting time comes, will lose on some ballots because of his three All-Star teammates. Leonard’s arguably right behind James in terms of best two-way players in the game, but he’s fighting for third place right now. The 5-foot-9 Thomas has been a revelation and if Boston overtakes Cleveland in the second half, however unlikely, he could earn some much deserved votes.

That leaves perhaps two of the most special scorers and playmakers the league has maybe ever seen. Harden’s shooting, passing and decision-making have elevated the Rockets to a new level and somehow drawn away from the fact that Westbrook is averaging a triple-double through 57 games. It’s a two-horse race, right now, but due to Kevin Love’s injury its possible James goes on a tear in the second-half and reminds and snags his fifth MVP, which would tie him with Jordan.

Prediction: Due to Houston’s better record, Harden may have an edge, but right now, it must be Westbrook due to Durant’s departure and his shot at history.