NBA: 5 candidates for the 2018-2019 NBA MVP Award

Training camp for the NBA started last week. Preseason games are in full swing, and the season opener is only a few weeks away. Basketball is officially back, and that leaves one  unanswered question. Who wins 2018-2019 NBA MVP award?

In 2018 James Harden finally broke through and won his first MVP award. He led the Rockets to a franchise record 65 wins and the best record in the league. The Rockets had a historically great offense, and Harden orchestrated it to perfection. 

Harden’s offensive brilliance, his ability to break his opponent down, and make plays for teammates makes him one of the toughest players to defend in the league. According to basketball reference, he averaged 30 points 5 rebounds 8.8 assists. His 30 point average was tops in the league allowing him to secure his first scoring title. 

On January 30 he almost broke social media. Scoring 60 points collecting 10 rebounds and dishing out 11 assists. This game was The highest scoring triple-double in NBA history. 

Harden and the Rockets would ultimately fall short losing to eventual champion Golden State Warriors in seven games. Having fallen short of his goal to win a championship. Harden is poised to have another great year which could possibly lead to him winning back 2 back MVP awards. 

Harden will not win his second straight MVP trophy. He will play at a high level and is guaranteed to have Gaudy numbers. The Rockets had the 8th rated defense last season. They lost 2 key defensive pieces Ariza and Mbah a Moute to free agency.  They were key components to last years record-setting team, and their departure will make it hard for the rockets to have the best record and home court throughout the playoffs. 

This will, in fact, lower his chances as becoming a back 2 back two time MVP. Harden will continue to play at an elite level, but with his team taking a step back I’m sorry Rocket fans he will not repeat as this years MVP. 

LeBron James is coming off one of his best seasons as a pro. He took a deficient Cleveland roster to the finals, which was his 8th straight NBA Finals. Putting him in elite company with the legendary Bill Russell. 

James play was at such high-level fans, sports talk radio hosts, and sport debate shows were debating the question had James finally past Jordan as the greatest to ever play the game? The answer is no, but he did cement himself as the 3rd greatest player to ever play the game, behind Jordan and Kareem.

LeBron not only is switched teams, but he also switched conferences. He leaves a eastern conference that has a huge gap between the top teams and the rest of conference, and joins a western conference that besides the suns and kings is super stacked with good and a great team. 

The Lakers roster is intriguing and very interesting. It has very talented young players, but their offseason free agent signings were curious, to say the least. Besides Rondo, the other signings were cast offs and could be categorized as misfits. 

The consensus around the league is if LeBron can lead this team to the playoffs and even to the western conference finals. He should win his 5th MVP in a landslide. The problem is the young players are probably a year away and have no playoff experience. The veterans they sign only two have championship experience and one of them is JaVale McGee. 

James is entering year 16 of all-time great career. Conventional wisdom would leave one to believe that he has to slow down sooner than later. The west is stacked and his roster is extremely flawed. Even the greatness of LeBron James cannot overcome all of these hurdles. Ultimately he will have another great season but will fall short in winning his 5th MVP. 

Giannis Antetokounmpo aka the “Greek Freak” continued to make strides last season and has become one of the top 10 players in the league. He made his second All-NBA team as well as his second All-Star team. 

The Bucks finished in the middle of the pact in the east and were eliminated by the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs. Just like LeBron Giannis’s ability to lead the Bucks falls heavily on his shoulders if they want to make it out of the first round and take that next step as a franchise.

Giannis improved in every aspect of his game last season. His overall success is going to rest in his ability to make jump shots. He improved significantly last season and according to the Bucks he worked on his 3 point shooting this summer, and should be a much improved shooter.

The Bucks also hired Mike Budenholzer as their new head coach this offseason. Coach Bud is known as a good coach that can really coach offense. With Bud’s system of pick n roll and floor spacing, Giannis should thrive this season. Often times the Bucks had some of the worst floor spacing in the league. This routinely caused Giannis to have to try and navigate his way to the basket through a congested lane.

The Bucks lost Jabari Parker to the Bulls who when healthy was a second option on offense for Giannis and the Bucks. Theoretically, this puts more responsibility on Giannis who is already shouldering a heavy offensive load. 

Giannis’s talent has him on the cusp of being the second or best player in the league. Even if he is able to get them to the conference finals he still will fall short as this years MVP. I expect him to crack the top three or finish second in voting this season as he continues to progress as one of the great talents the league has ever seen.

Anthony Davis may be the best player in the NBA. The casual fan may not appreciate his talents and greatness, but with his size, versatility, athleticism, and overall feel for the game, there aren’t too many players that can match Davis’s skill set.

Davis finished 3rd in last seasons MVP voting behind James Harden and LeBron James. Last season was his best season as a pro. He was able to elevate his game after DeMarcus Cousins suffered a season-ending Achilles injury.

He was able to lead his team to playoffs and a first-round upset of the 3rd seeded Portland Trail Blazers. The Pelicans would fall to eventual champion Golden State Warriors in the next round. Davis finally had the chance to showcase his talent on a national stage. 

The “Brow” has a solid supporting cast in Jrue Holiday, Nikola Mirotić, and they signed Julius Randle this offseason. He will have to do a lot of the heavy lifting in a loaded western conference. 

His numbers are going to be some of the best in the league he finished second in scoring by Harden last season. He was 5th in rebounding and first in blocks with 2.6 per game. 

Vegas has the pelicans over-under at 45.5 wins this season. Davis will need to either improve or at least mirror last seasons stats and lead his team to at least 50 wins if he wants to have a shot at winning the MVP. I don’t think they get to 50 wins and they could easily miss the playoffs this year.

Davis will fall short again this season. Then the storyline will quickly shift to will he stay in New Orleans or leave? Check back at the end of the season for that story. 

Kevin Durant aka “The Big Joker” is coming off winning another finals MVP and another championship with the warriors. He has already won one league MVP and will be shooting for a second this season. 

Durant is considered as the second or best player in the league behind LeBron James. His scoring prowess puts him in rarefied air. He is the best offensive weapon the league has ever seen. He can roll out of behind and get you 30+ without breaking a sweat.

The last few years of his career he has focused on becoming a better defensive player. He has all the tools to dominate on the defensive end as well as the offensive end. At 7’0” he has the length and foot speed to guard five positions. He can be a rim protector and can switch off on a point guard on the perimeter. 

Since joining the warriors he has become a playmaker. He has become a willing passer that can break down the defense and set up his teammates. 

Durant is entering year 11 of his career. He plays for the best team in the league that is looking to win its 3rd championship in a row. Historically the best player on the best team wins the MVP. 

In his first season with the warriors, he was a legit MVP candidate before he hurt his knee in DC against the Wizards. He was near the top in scoring and was having one of his best seasons on the defensive end. 

The fact that he plays on arguably the best team ever assembled may hurt his chances to win the MVP. He plays alongside Steph Curry who could also be an MVP candidate and has already won the award twice himself. 

Durant checks all the checkboxes needed to win the MVP award. The offense is elite when he is dialed in he can dominate the game on the defensive end as well. This will be Durant’s last season in the Bay Area, so why not go out with a bang. 

Win another championship, win another finals MVP, and complete the hat trick by winning the 2018-2019 Most Valuable Player award. He could leave and head to New York and enter the final phase of his Hall of Fame career.