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Last season brought an exciting battle for Most Valuable Player between two elite stars in Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Westbrook took home the honors after carrying the Thunder on his back and averaging a triple-double for the season. This upcoming it’s a crapshoot when it comes to predicting this year’s winner.
Durant is the best player on his team, and he finds himself in the running once again. Durant is a fantastic all-around player, but his fluid shot and tremendous defense can propel him into another award worthy season. The scary thing about Durant and the Warriors? While they compete for the MVP within the team, they could potentially smash their record for most wins in an NBA season. If KD wants to win the award, he’ll have to standout among the legends playing besides him. Whether that’s scoring 28 points per game, snagging 8+ rebounds per, averaging at least 5 assists, or possibly all three, he’ll have his work cut out in an already stacked conference.
In my opinion, this year is Kawhi Leonard’s season to pave his way to legend status. His offensive game continues to improve, while his defensive game remains top in the league and plays a pivotal role to San Antonio’s success. Not to mention, Leonard has finished in the the top three for MVP voting in each of the last two seasons. To finally win his first MVP title, he’ll have to continue working on his shot, remain consistent on the defensive side of the ball and he’ll have to improve upon his rebound and assist numbers.
After finishing first on his team in points, assists, rebounds, steals, and blocks, while also finishing in the top twenty in the entire league for all five of those categories, Giannis make have catapulted himself to elite status. Giannis…ahem, excuse me, the Milwaukee Bucks finished sixth in the East and were missing one of their top performers. Antetokounmpo may have won Most Improved Player, but there’s reason to believe he can take his game to a whole new level. Last year he averaged 22.9 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 5.4 APG, aided by his tall, long and athletic figure, which makes him nearly impossible to cover. Giannis has the chance to lead his team to either the 5, 4, or 3 seed in the East this year with all of the young talent around him. If he can do so, while still improving his game at incredible pace, he’ll have a legitimate shot for his first MVP honor.
Lebron has already won the MVP award four times in his career and he’s coming off of a year in which he averaged 26.4 PPG, 8.6 RPG, and 8.7 APG. Career highs in rebounds and assists per game while aging into his thirties? If one player can do it successfully, it’s LeBron. Whether or not the rumors of Kyrie Irving’s departure are true, LeBron is going to mash this season. The East still belongs to the King. Unless things change because of his rest schedule, LeBron could easily snatch a FIFTH MVP award. Insanity.
James Harden just experienced tremendous growth on the offensive side of the ball and still finished second in MVP voting. What gives? Figuring Golden State secures the number one seed in the West, the number two will be a battle between the two Texas teams. Houston may have gained an edge in that battle with the acquisition of All Star assister Chris Paul. James Harden prayed for some help getting the ball in his hands and Steve Ballmer and the Clippers answered. Essentially, Harden will need to maintain his statistics from the 2016-17 season to have a prayer at the MVP, especially since he’s not the most defensively gifted player on this list, but his offensive production carried him to number two in last year’s voting. Can it lead him to the top spot this time around?
While you may be wondering where the reigning MVP is on this list, I can tell you one thing: He’s an honorable mention at best. While Westbrook just had an insane season, he’s taxed. He’s an incredible talent, but his back is sore from carrying Oklahoma City on his back. He has Paul George with him, so his production will naturally decrease with two alphas on the same court.
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