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The Top Picks for MVP

LeBron, Russell, Harden, or Leonard?

Brian Heinrich, Staff Writer

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This NBA season has had one of the most debated MVP discussions in recent memory. Kish student and NBA fan Max Kubale called it “The best MVP race I’ve ever seen”. Four players are being considered for the award: LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and Kawhi Leonard. Westbrook and Harden have dominated most of the MVP talk, but Lebron and Leonard are equally deserving of being in the discussion. I’ll break down each of the candidates and predict where they might finish in the MVP voting.

First let’s look at Leonard. Leonard has led the Duncan-less Spurs to second place in the Western Conference. Leonard is averaging 25.9 ppg, as well as 3.6 assists and 5.9 rebounds. Leonard’s offensive numbers aren’t as impressive as some of the other MVP candidates, but his leadership and defensive presence are why he’s considered such a special player. However, as impressive as Leonard’s season is, the other three players are having career years, so I believe Leonard will finish 4th in MVP voting.

LeBron & Kawhi Face Off
Photo Courtesy of defpen.com

Next is LeBron James, and at this point does anyone even need to justify why he’s an MVP candidate? LeBron is the best basketball player in the world, and is so important to the Cavs that he should win the MVP every single year. LeBron is averaging 26.3 ppg, 8.7 assists, and 8.5 rebounds this season. Almost averaging a triple double would win an MVP any other year, but not this season, thanks to a certain point guard. I believe LeBron will come in 2nd in MVP voting.

“The Beard” James Harden has had an incredible bounce back year after a disappointing 2015/2016 season. Harden is averaging 29.2 ppg, a career high 11.2 assists, and 8.1 rebounds. Harden has improved his already elite offensive skill set to the next level this season, and has recorded frequent triple doubles throughout the year. But as great as his numbers and team are this year, everyone forgets how much of a train wreck Houston was last season. The key differences from this year’s Rockets and last year’s are the departure of Dwight Howard and the addition of coach Mike D’Antoni. D’Antoni is an offensive genius who changed the game of basketball with his style of play. So as great of a season as Harden is having, how much of it is because of D’Antoni? The D’Antoni factor is what keeps Harden from the MVP in my opinion, and I see him finishing 3rd.

Last but not least is Russell Westbrook. Westbrook is having a historic NBA season, averaging a triple double with a league leading 31.9 ppg, 10.4 assists, and 10.6 rebounds. Nobody since Oscar Robertson in the 70s has averaged a triple double in a season, and Westbrook is having this historic season in spite of his teammate and friend Kevin Durant leaving the Thunder in the offseason. Westbrook has also managed to lead the talentless Thunder to the playoffs by himself, and that is why I consider him the MVP.

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The Top Picks for MVP