Another exciting year of NBA basketball has come to an end. As we enjoy the playoffs we will keep one thing in the back of our minds; who will come away with the regular season awards? The highlight of this conversation is always the same; who was this season’s Most Valuable Player?
We’ve debated it since opening day. Early front-runners such as Giannis Antetokounmpo tapered off to cede the lead to perennial candidates like Lebron James, playing arguably his best season and finally participating in all 82 games. James Harden for the third year in a row is at the front of the pack.
I don’t think any of these players, as good as they have been, deserve this year’s MVP award as much as one less mentioned dark horse.
Based on overall team value and success my choice for MVP is Anthony Davis, using many of the same criteria used to select Russell Westbrook as last season’s MVP. I know that this is not the most popular choice, and while I am more than convinced that James Harden will take away this year’s MVP award, my vote (if I officially had one) goes to the Brow.
The New Orleans Pelicans were projected to win roughly 43 games this season with Anthony Davis and Demarcus Cousins on the roster. Cousins tore his Achilles tendon in late January, giving the impression that the Pelicans would be on the decline and miss that preseason prediction. They went on to finish with a 47-34 record, which is 4 games above their expectation, WITHOUT Cousins playing a single game for the second half of the season. This is similar to how Westbrook rose to the occasion upon the departure of Kevin Durant to the Warriors. He became the second player to average a triple double for an entire season and carried his team to 6th place in the Western Conference.
With Boogie out, Anthony Davis took over for the Pelicans. His numbers for the secong half of the season have been video game-like, and he finished with averages of 28 points (second behind Harden), 11 rebounds (5th in the league), and led the NBA with 2.5 blocks per game.
He has shown offensive dominance and defensive prowess, something that can’t fully be said about Harden. Davis also has a weaker supporting cast and is a more valuable asset to his team than Harden is to the Rockets (the addition of Nikola Mirotic helped quite a bit, but he is not the same caliber of player as Davis or Cousins). Harden playing with Chris Paul hurts his MVP chances in my mind the same way it does to Curry and Durant, and Davis and Cousins (if he was still playing, which he isn’t, so more credit for Davis).
LeBron James is an MVP candidate every year, backed up by his 7 straight Finals appearances. The Cavs have been playing decently, but overall have endured a very chaotic up-and-down season. They achieved a 50 win season, right under their preseason expectations, but it did not come glamorously. After Cousins’ injury the expectation for the Pelicans was to slide out of the playoffs, but Davis has kept them contending. That narrative to me is worth a lot more than the drama that went on in Cleveland to keep them afloat.
Most of the league is more concerned about winning a championship right now than winning regular season awards. Davis, Harden, and James are all going to be tuned into the playoffs. That won’t stop us from debating the possible winner until the official announcement is made.
The NBA 2017-2018 awards show will be held on June 25th at 9pm ET.
Featured Photo: deadspin.com
1st Photo Source: nba.nbcsports.com
2nd Photo Source: sbnation.com