The run for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award is well and truly in full swing; with the main contenders for this season’s award almost safely narrowed down to three.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden and Paul George have all had outstanding season’s for their teams; and their teams remain heavily in playoff calculations.
All three present strong cases to win the award and have thus far have had periods of dominance that have stamped their authority as MVP worthy over the most part of this NBA season thus far.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has continued his rise as a superstar in the NBA, James Harden has experienced an unprecedented run of 30 point games this season after winning his first MVP last year; whilst Paul George has been outstanding on both ends of the floor whilst also coming up big in clutch moments during his run into MVP consideration.
All three bring something different to the table, but who holds the best chance of being crowned MVP this year?
Giannis Antetokounmpo (27.0 points per game 12.6 rebounds 5.9 assists)
‘The Greek Freak’ has almost single handedly led the Milwaukee Bucks to the number one seed in the Eastern Conference; everything runs through him.
Giannis is a great passer with fantastic court vision, he defends well, and is almost impossible to guard when he attacks the ring.
On top of all this he has also begun to develop range from the three point line, which makes him a threat anywhere on the floor; Giannis is dominant.
Antetokounmpo has solid support on his team and teammate Khris Middleton has had an all-star season, but Giannis is the only superstar on a Buck’s team that holds a 47-14 record; he is quite simply the reason they are top of the east.
He boasts the best plus minus (+/-) in the league of 8.7 which shows how much better the Bucks are in points differential with him on the floor, and has a much higher field goal percentage (58.1%) than either Harden or George, they are taking a lot more shots than Giannis from range but it still highlights his efficiency inside the paint. His case for MVP is hard to flaw.
The Bucks were seen to be a good team this season, but their success so far has been greater than anticipated – which will only help Antetokounmpo’s case for MVP.
James Harden (36.2 points per game 6.6 rebounds 7.6 assists)
He polarizes basketball fans with the way he gets it done, but Harden gets it done most nights for the Houston Rockets.
Harden has backed up his 2017/18 MVP campaign in fantastic style so far this year season, carrying a Rockets team that has been without fellow superstars Chris Paul and Clint Capela for a large portion of their schedule up until recently.
At times Harden has made it look like he’s doing it for fun, scoring bucket loads of points including a historic streak of 32 consecutive 30 point games which finished this week.
He averages the second most for three-pointers made in the league behind Steph Curry and to many people’s frustration gets to the free-throw line at an absurd rate.
He’s been the one to keep the Rocket’s a competitively placed fifth in a stacked Western Conference with Paul and Capela on the sidelines, and he has the ability to come up big at the end of games.
He leads the league in points per game (36.2) by a country mile, but he’s taking more shots than both Antetokounmpo and George, and his efficiency suffers as a result. The return of Paul and Capela may also affect his ability to dominate games as he has done this year – which may hurt his chances.
If MVP’s were won based on scoring bucket loads of points night in night out – then Harden would already have it in a stranglehold.
Paul George (28.6 points per game 8.1 rebounds 4.3 assists)
Unlike Antetokounmpo and Harden, you could forgive many NBA fans for not having Paul George in their MVP predictions at the beginning of this season, especially when playing alongside a ball-dominant player like Russell Westbrook.
George has basically replaced Westbrook as Oklahoma City Thunder’s most important player, which is crazy considering their reliance on their star point-guard over the past few seasons.
He’s one of the best defenders in the NBA, and has pulled through on the offensive end in big moments at the end of games – a previous criticism which had been levelled at him.
Like the Bucks, the Thunder have had a better season than people predicted, and it’s mainly due to George.
Westbrook has averaged a triple double but has struggled with his shot, and George has been the man to take his own game to another level.
He is second behind Harden in scoring per game (28.6), has a plus minus of 7.7 which shows how he lifts the Thunder when he’s around.
George is riding the most momentum out of all three into this latter part of the season and his MVP push is the one that has grown the most over the past month.
Harden and George are making huge pushes in the MVP conversation, but Antetokounmpo is leading the team with best record in the NBA and he’s basically doing it by himself, which possibly makes his argument more convincing.
Make of it what you will, there’s still plenty of games left in the regular season, and the final stretch to MVP is set to be close.