Every year, the NBA has players that stand out as favorites for MVP. This year won’t be any different as there will be quite a few teams that rely solely on their star to lead them, but these players are your best bet.
Apr 14, 2018; Portland, OR, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) celebrates after scoring on a play during the second half against the Portland Trail Blazers in game one of the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Moda Center. The Pelicans won 97-95. Photo by: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
Anthony Davis</strong>. The talented forward for the New Orleans Pelicans will once again be looked upon to lead his team back to the playoffs. Davis never disappoints. He constantly gives you gaudy numbers, ridiculous highlights, and flashes of being down-right unstoppable. He lost DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo in the offseason while gaining Julius Randle. Make no mistake Randle will be serviceable, but he is no Boogie Cousins. They also failed to fill the void left by Rondo. Rondo, while not the high scoring guard as most in the western conference is, played a critical part in applying constant pressure on the Portland Trailblazers guards in the playoffs and also dishing out assists like they were on wholesale.
Missing those two players are what makes this year the year Davis can really make his case for MVP. Simply put, the Pelicans go as Davis goes. If he can lead his team to the playoffs and build off his already great 23 points and 11 boards a night stat line, there is little doubt his name will be mentioned right along with other great names.
Giannis Antetokounmpo. The only flaw to the Greek Freak is pretty much nothing. Sure, you aren’t going to get a ton of three-point shots out him but outside of that, he is a monster. He leads his team very similar to Davis, defensively and offensively. He has grown every year and experienced a very intense battle last year in the playoffs being eliminated by the Boston Celtics. Nothing in the NBA is better the
an experience, just ask the Warriors.
Giannis will go into this season ready to show off his often hidden hard work. In an era where every player makes sure their fanbase sees their workout from start to finish, the only thing you get from Giannis are results. In this preseason alone he showed the entire package delivering a triple-double in the final game of the preseason. He showed his already great defense, his ability to pass and even a soft touch shooting the ball. He’s just too long, too gifted and quite frankly too scary for any one person to guard. The Milwaukee Bucks superstar will go into this season looking to get back to the playoffs and improve on his previous season where he averaged 24 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 assists. If he can post similar numbers while carrying his team back to the playoffs earning a high seed he should be considered a favorite to win MVP.
Kawhi Leonard. Being traded to a team that’s coming off a season where they were the number one seed and they really didn’t lose much? Yes, Leonard can be considered an MVP candidate. Before being hurt, Kawhi was considered to be one of the top three players in the league. A player who can provide steady offense while guarding the other teams best player. He will easily be the best player on a Toronto Raptors team who traded their previous best player in DeMar DeRozan. He will probably be the best player in the eastern conference.
Kawhi Leonard helped rally the San Antonio Spurs to a 100- 95 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Photo by: Mark D. Smith.
Leonard can be MVP for a couple of reasons. He can and will make an already good team better. He was great in the western conference, a much stronger conference in terms of who his opponents were on the nightly basis, so expect him to be even better in the east. He will have the chance to display he is more than just a system player. While in San Antonio, Leonard wasn’t asked to be great, he had great talent and the best coach in the NBA on his side. If he can prove he can play anywhere and be great like he was prior to an injury, he can join only Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, and Kevin Garnett as the only players to win MVP and Defensive Player of The Year awards during their career.
LeBron James. Probably the most obvious favorite, its worth mentioning James as a dark horse simply because it is of the belief he has received the Jordan treatment (he can win every year but voters give someone else a chance). No need in diving into LeBron’s numbers. He’s a walking triple-double threat every night. He is the difference between your team winning 20 games and winning 50. The Lakers only won 35 games last season, expect that to get bumped up. Expect players like Brandon Ingram to flourish with a guy like LeBron next to him. LeBron is also going to improve because aside from Kyrie Irving he’s never played with a prolific point guard (Mike Bibby was far from his prime). Now he has Rondo and Lonzo Ball.
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James. Photo by: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Why does that make LeBron better? Often LeBron has pushed point for his teams, directing the offense and carrying the offensive load having to score and be the playmaker. Irving was a phenomenal point guard, he isn’t nearly the playmaker Rondo is or what Lonzo has shown to be, but neither can score and break down defenses like Irving. That won’t be an issue. It will take mileage off LeBron though. To be able to come down the court and play off-ball will work wonders for LeBron, specifically in the playoffs. There’s a reason Philadelphia was considered to be one of his top destinations in the offseason, Ben Simmons would take that burden off him.
That being said, LeBron will simply make everyone better. That alone will make him a valuable MVP candidate. Larry Brown once said, “the true sign of a great player is when he can make those around him better”. If LeBron can help the young lakers grow and contend, he’ll force voters to consider giving him his 5th MVP award, tying Jordan.