Returning to the 2017-2018 Regular Season MVP Race
As the NBA Playoffs wind down, we look back at the regular season to determine who will be proclaimed MVP of the exciting 2017-2018 basketball season.
- James Harden
Harden proved his MVP worthiness with every outing for the Houston Rockets this regular season. He scored 40 or more points nine times this season, 50 or more four times, and notched the first 60-point triple-double in league history against the Orlando Magic back on January 30th. Harden led the league in scoring, providing 30.6 points per game for Houston while also averaging 8.8 Assists and 5.4 Rebounds every night. Harden possesses every tool necessary to dominate the competition in this era; he shot 36.7% from beyond the arc, and Houston dominated the league in three-point shooting by draining over 15 of them each night. Most importantly, the Rockets held the best regular season record in the entire league, as the team shattered its franchise record for wins while also winning its regular season battle with the Golden State Warriors. An MVP runner-up in two of the past three seasons, Harden will finally own this award at the end of the season.
- LeBron James
LeBron had an incredible season, arguably the best of his 15 year career. At the age of 33, LeBron showed no signs of slowing down; it is remarkable that the King is still so impactful even with all of the mileage that he has accumulated. James averaged 27.5 Points, 9.1 Assists and 8.6 Rebounds per game. What is even more impressive is his efficiency, as he shot 54.2% from the field and 36.7% from three-point territory. In comparison to other prolific scorers in NBA history, LeBron is on his own in that he has become a more efficient player with age. He also played 82 games for the first time in his career, another feat he can cross off of his checklist that becomes smaller each season. His 35 point, 17 Assist, and 7 Rebound effort against the Toronto Raptors on March 21st was LeBron’s fifth game this season with 15 or more assists; it also marked the first time a player finished a game with 35 or more points, 15 or more assists, and no turnovers. Statistically, LeBron is probably having the most dominant year of his career, but there was a lot of drama within the Cleveland locker room for much of the season, and their 50-32 record doesn’t compare to that of Houston’s. With all of this being said, LeBron has reinforced himself as the best player in the league with his dominant postseason run.
- Anthony Davis
A solid argument can be made for the league’s most dominant two-way player, as he has stepped up his performance following DeMarcus Cousins’ season ending injury. Davis was second behind James Harden in Points with 28.1 per game, led the league in blocks per game with 2.6, and averaged 11.1 rebounds per game, while having an impressive Player Efficiency Rating of 28.9 on the year.
Without Cousins by his side, Davis is providing the Pelicans with the fuel they need to make a playoff appearance. Following the All-Star break, Davis averaged 29.9 points, 12 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game. Certain individual performances by Davis stood out this year; Davis had a 45-point, 17-rebound, 5-block and 5-steal performance in a win over Miami on Feb. 23, a 53-point, 18-rebound and 5-block performance in a win over Phoenix on February 26, and a 25-point, 11-rebound and 10-block triple-double in a loss to Utah on March 11. The Pelicans were widely counted out by many after the loss of their All-Star big man, and Davis managed to keep his team on the correct path for much of the season.