Now that the season has finally arrived and restored order in the lives of us avid NBA fans, let’s take a look at my top three 2017-2018 NBA MVP candidates.
Largely based on their 2016-2017 efforts, current team roster construct, and how their statistics have trended the last few seasons, I formed my opinion on who this year’s top three MVP candidates will be.
A Familiar Name Returns
After the acquisition of Chris Paul by the Houston Rockets, one of the best floor general’s to ever grace the court, it seems as if many people have counted James Harden out of contention for honors as the league’s Most Valuable Player. I am not of that frame of thought, I strongly believe the opposite. The addition of CP3 will actually improve Harden’s chances of finally hoisting that trophy. As a side note of intrigue, the Houston Rockets have two players that have been robbed (two times each!) of claiming the honor that is the MVP (CP3 in 2007-2008 and 2008-2009, then the Beard in 2014-2015 and 2016-2017). Looking specifically at Harden though, he finally has someone that will share the load of ball handling duties, which will positively impact his efficiency. Make no mistake, Harden will continue to get around twenty or more attempts per game from the field as he has done the last three seasons, however, with the twelve minutes or so on the court a night (according to coach D’Antoni) that he will spend with CP3, the amount of open or easy shots he will enjoy will greatly benefit his wear and tear over 82 games as well as allow for more efficient play for Harden. On top of that, Harden also now has a player that will set him up, meaning that he will not have to do it all himself and the Beard can focus more on “cooking” the defense from his score-first mentality, which is his primary calling card. The addition of CP3 will positively impact Harden, and the Rockets record as a team (a direct correlation to who wins MVP each year). Expect the bearded one’s name to be relevant regarding league MVP honors this season.
The King’s Reign Continues
For over a decade now, in any given season you could not mention who should win the MVP without LeBron’s name coming up, and deservingly so. Being the league’s most well-rounded player will do that. When you combining this dominance with the microscope he plays (and lives) under, every accomplishment, no matter how commonplace it may be, will stir up overreaction. This attention is something LeBron has earned, and I don’t expect his play to drop at all this upcoming season (or the next…) as even a “down” season for LeBron that suggests that he is “slowing down” consists of 26.4 ppg, 8.7 apg, and 8.6 rpg. This season will showcase LeBron with a cast of depth that he has yet to see since he went back home to Cleveland. A roster that boasts both versatility and veteran leadership from players who can effectively contribute will undoubtedly aid LeBron in lessening his workload, prolonging his career, and allow for more winning. All of which enhance his resume for what will be another season where LeBron could walk away with another MVP accolade, which would be his fifth should he be awarded it. Also, this is a relevant season regarding his pending free agency. There will be a different focus from LeBron this season, one that should be an intriguing and entertaining one to follow throughout the 82 game grind.
A Newcomer Emerges
A freak, one of a kind, hard-working, raw talent, oozing potential. These are all commonly used adjectives describing the face of the new look Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo. If Kobe Bryant challenges you to do something, there is no question that the goal is realistic and achievable. However, the Mamba was never known for setting easy goals so it will be a challenge that is going to push the recipient in all aspects of their craft. When Kobe came out with his string of tweets ahead of the NBA’s season challenging teams and individuals who he believes have an opportunity to do something special, one of the standout challenges targeted young Giannis. He was challenged to go and earn himself the MVP trophy. In all relevant statistical categories, Giannis’ stats have gotten better each of his first three seasons. In his fourth campaign, it seems as if this trend will hold true yet again. Not only is he leading the NBA in scoring, but it also seems as if his leadership skills have gotten better. Kobe’s comments have put a spotlight on Milwaukee, one that the city has not seen for their basketball team in quite some time. Giannis is more than worthy of this attention, but he will have to make his team relevant enough to attract more attention from the committee and garner first place votes for MVP. If he continues his play, and the team continues to progress as they are on the come up (hopefully they attain Eric Bledsoe and get a healthy Jabari Parker), Giannis could very well be the 2017-2018 NBA MVP, an accolade that would cement his name in NBA history early on in his career.
There will be plenty of players that will emerge as MVP candidates that I did not mention (Curry, Durant, Paul, Kawhi, Wall, Wesbrook, George, Irving…) but in the end I believe that these three will be the most relevant. This season’s MVP race likely won’t live up to the hype that last year’s Westbrook-Harden-Kawhi-Lebron led race conjured up, but it will most definitely be intriguing.
Who do you think will win this season’s MVP and why do you think so? Feel free to drop your opinions below, or you can always tweet me or direct message me on Twitter @StayTrueSdot3.
Let’s see how this season’s race unfolds!