The 2017/18 NBA MVP has been settled for a while, but the last pick for the All-NBA Spot will be decided by the final games tonight. Find out who get selected top 5 for MVP and for the 3 All-NBA teams:
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
- James Harden
- Anthony Davis
- LeBron James
- Giannis Antetokounmpo
- Damian Lillard
James Harden is the MVP. This time, there is no question about it.
I’ll admit, I picked both Steph Curry and Russell Westbrook ahead of him in the other two seasons he was an MVP candidate and I stand by that, but no one can take this MVP away from James Harden.
I tend to give him a hard time because I hate watching him play, but the way he plays is incredibly effective. Even if it is annoying to defend some times. He’ll make you foul him for an And1, he’ll get you stuck on his big butt after a Pick & Roll and make you stay there and he’ll create separation from his physical ball-handling style while staying a threat to pull up from anywhere.
This is the sort of award that you don’t really need to look up fancy numbers and analytics to back up his case. James Harden has been the best player on clearly the best regular season team in the 2017/2018 season and fully deserves this MVP. He has taken yet another step up, shooting more efficiently, being a better defender and not turning the ball over as much.
Even the narrative is in his favor, having been “snubbed” twice already (third time’s the charm) and also as a result of an overcorrection to the 6th seeded Westbrook winning last season’s MVP. This season’s winner is back to being a player from one of the highest seeded teams in the NBA.
My runner-up MVP might very well be a 6 seed himself, New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis. Much like Westbrook’s OKC last season, the Pelicans would be deep in the lottery if not for Anthony Davis. They had a better winning percentage AFTER former All-Star DeMarcus Cousins went out with season ending injury, as Anthony Davis put them on his back.
That’s not a knock on Cousins, just like it’s not a knock on Paul George that OKC end up with about the same record as last season. Sometimes a superstar doesn’t need a co-superstar next to him to win more, just a better overall team. Along with Davis being the lone superstar left, Jrue Holiday, Rajon Rondo and newly acquired Nikola Mirotic stepped up towards the end of the season, but only AD was vital to their success.
A player who is not only vital, but essential to his team’s success, is LeBron James. Many will make the argument for LeBron being the runner-up and they have a legit case, but I prefer Anthony Davis for a couple of reasons.
Offensively, LeBron is arguably as good as he has ever been, but defensively, compared to Anthony Davis, it is night and day. It shouldn’t be and LeBron will turn on his defense like he did for a stretch in November/December come playoff time. He’ll likely reach yet another NBA Finals. For the regular season however, the Cavaliers have been a dreadful defensive team even though LeBron is capable of much more.
The other big issue with the Cavs is their chemistry. When they have gotten things going, they have looked almost unstoppable. Right after the trade deadline, when they traded away almost half their team, it looked like they had turned a corner and played with a zest that had many believe they would challenge for the #1 seed in the East.
As soon as they faced some adversity however, they struggled and now they’ll end up as a 4th seed behind the 76ers. This has been the problem and a lot of it stems around the uncertainty and iron grip LeBron has over the team, the same reason Kyrie Irving left town. Kevin Love has never quite FIT IN with LeBron and has struggled with mental health along with his physical health this season. Cleveland are deteriorating and will be back in the lottery once LeBron likely leaves for LA in the summer.
“The Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo, put up some freakish performances to start the season and was the MVP favorite out of the gates. Seriously, look at his numbers from the 7 games in October:
33.7 PPG, 10.3 REB, 5.3 AST, 2.7 STOCKS (Steals and Blocks) on 63% shooting, 40% from 3.
That run included games against Cavs, Blazers, OKC and 2 games against the Celtics. Holy smokes.
Sure, the run didn’t last, which is why he ends up being 4th on my ballot, but think of it as a warning of things to come. Giannis will be the MVP eventually, sooner rather than later. He is the best young player in the league in my eyes.
Unfortunately for him, his team isn’t up to par. The Milwaukee Bucks have a decent-ish record, mostly thanks to Giannis. Last years ROTY Malcolm Brogdon has been absent with injury and they endured the first half of the season without Jabari Parker. They could have been a whole lot better, but had a head coach in Jason Kidd who made some stupendous decisions. Would you miss a free throw up 3 or hack an 86% FT shooter up 4 with 10 seconds left? With Jason Kidd as your head coach, you’d get to do both. Maybe someone like David Fizdale can turn this team around
360 180 degrees. Take that for data.
PS: Tonight’s game between Bucks and 76ers could be a 1st Round preview. I’m not surprised if Giannis knocks out Philly in a playoff series.
Damian Lillard was tipped to be an MVP candidate before last season by Steve Kerr. We had to wait another season, but Lillard is finally part of the MVP conversation and I’ll slot him in at 5th place. Right after the All-Star break, the Portland Trail Blazers looked like the best team in the NBA. They did have a good defense over that stretch and CJ McCollum is a great 2nd banana, but it was mostly down to Lillard Time.
The Blazers went 14-2 right after the All-Star break under the guidance of Damian Lillard and the first game he sat after that, they lost to the lowly Memphis Grizzlies. The Blazers have tapered off in the last few games of the season, getting too confident in getting the 3rd seed and now might even lose home court advantage as a 5th seed.
Still, Lillard has been indispensable for them, not only as scorer and leader, but also by stepping up his defense. The Blazers have been a Top 10 defense this year after being a Bottom 10 defense the last two seasons. The way Lillard has put the Blazers on his back when four other starters left him after the 14/15 season is remarkable and should be rewarded.
C: Anthony Davis
F: Giannis Antetokounmpo
F: LeBron James
G: James Harden
G: Damian Lillard
C: Joel Embiid
F: LaMarcus Aldridge
F: Kevin Durant
G: Victor Oladipo
G: Russell Westbrook
C: Karl-Anthony Towns/Nikola Jokic
F: Ben Simmons
F: Paul George
G: DeMar Derozan
G: Chris Paul
I have already covered the 1st Team All-NBA. It’s nice to have my top five MVP candidates on the 1st team for once. The two players closest to winning a spot on the 1st team, are former teammates and totally still friends, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Durant has been in the top five all year and even had a chance of getting a 2nd MVP when Steph Curry went down with an injury against the Spurs on March 8th. The Warriors had the same record as the Rockets at the time and with a good stretch… ehm.. down the stretch for Durant, he’d be in the MVP conversation right now and in the 1st Team All-NBA. Instead they lost their next two games before Durant got injured himself and are now 4-4 since Durant returned to the lineup.
Westbrook, like his team, have been a bit more uneven throughout the season, taking a definite step back from last year’s MVP performance. Just look at his 3PT shooting, which went from 34 to 30%, even though he shot almost half as many 3’s. He might still average a triple double however and is still the main reason OKC have clinched a playoff spot, so he deserves his place on the 2nd Team All-NBA.
Embiid is the best true center in the game and if he played in more of them, he’d be in the top 5. He is my Defensive Player of The Year, juuuuust edging Rudy Gobert. LaMarcus Aldridge deserves credit for getting his Spurs to the playoffs as their best player, with my pre-season MVP pick Kawhi Leonard out for most of the season. Victor Oladipo is the Most Improved Player by far and one of the best two way players in the game. He is much better served as a main option rather than a complimentary player, but is also a totally different player than last season’s disappointment.
The 3rd Team is where it gets interesting.
I’ve gone with my final Rookie of the Year pick, Ben Simmons as a forward. I bet on Donovan Mitchell as ROTY right after Summer League (Proof) and as good as he has been, Ben Simmons has been even better. The playmaking, defense and triple doubles, ever since day one, is unheard of from a rookie. Even if he benefited from a full year on an NBA roster last season. I wish NBA changed their rules, not only because of my bet, but also because it would be fairer. Either way, Simmons is a top 20 player now and deserves a spot in All-NBA. I placed him at forward instead of guard because there are too many guards to choose from.
DeMar DeRozan is a lock and has a case to be ranked ahead of Oladipo on the 2nd team. Oladipo edges it on the defensive end for me even though DeRozan has been a key component in making the Raptors a ball-sharing offence. Toronto might end up winning 60 games, which is 12 more than Oladipo’s Pacers. However, considering Indiana only won 42 games last year and traded away Paul George, I’ll give the edge to the man Indiana got in return, Victor Oladipo.
For my final guard spot, I had to decide between Chris Paul, Steph Curry and Jimmy Butler. It’s almost too close to call. Steph Curry is obviously the best and most important player of the three, but he also played in 9 fewer games. If Curry was completely healthy through the season, he’d be in the 1st team over Lillard. Instead, he drops out entirely.
Chris Paul has been very much overlooked this season. When he has played for the Rockets, they have been on a 71-win pace… That is better than every player in the league, even teammate and my MVP pick James Harden. CP3 has been very much underrated throughout his career and hasn’t avoided the “playoff choker” stamp like Harden has been able to do. I haven’t seen Harden take down a reigning Champion (like Paul vs Spurs) as the leading man yet. He might get and take his chance vs Golden State. Either way, Chris Paul gets the slight nod over Jimmy Butler, who I also considered as a forward.
The Paul George vs Jimmy Butler debate has been raging on for the last couple of years and I had to decide between them for the last forward spot. Jimmy Butler has been more valuable to Minnesota than Paul George has been for OKC… when he has played. The problem is that Paul George has played in 20 more games. Sadly for Butler and Minnesota, his knee injury in February cost him an All-NBA spot and might cost the Timberwolves the playoffs.
If the Timberwolves miss out on the playoffs for a 14th straight season, my final center pick is Nikola Jokic. After all, Jokic’ Nuggets would be the team to knock out the Timberwolves from that last elusive 8th playoff spot. Towns has a higher ceiling, especially on D, is more efficient and can score 56 on you. Jokic is a superior playmaker, is closer to reaching his full potential and has actually been more utilized by his coach. Nuggets fans tired of Mike Malone might scoff at that, but Timberwolves fans stuck with Thibs know better.
Basically, I’m letting tonight’s game decide. If the Timberwolves win, the pick is Towns, if the Nuggets win, the pick is Jokic. Even more riding on this exhilarating final fixture of the NBA regular season.