Top 5 favorites for NBA MVP Award

Now that the NBA’s 2017-18 regular season is over, fans have a chance to speculate on which players might garner the league’s most prestigious awards. Among them is the MVP Award, which was once thought to be a runaway.

A strong close to the season by several of the NBA’s top stars has made the race somewhat closer.

As the playoffs are set to get underway, we take a look at the five favorites for the regular season MVP Award:

5. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

In the Warriors’ last 20 games where Curry has played and Kevin Durant has not, the Warriors are 20-0. Curry’s importance was further magnified in his absence as the Warriors limped to the finish line of the regular season. The flashy point guard totaled 26.4 PPG and 6.1 APG, including 42.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Known as an outside shooter, he averaged nearly 50 percent shooting from the field. In his 51 games, he was clearly playing at an MVP level.

4. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

Very quietly, the Portland Trail Blazers enjoyed an excellent season. On Lillard’s shoulders, the Trail Blazers finished third in a hotly-contested Western Conference, and he put up brilliant numbers. Lillard averaged 26.9 PPG, 6.6 APG, and 4.5 RPG for the 49-win Blazers.

3. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans

Davis enjoyed a remarkable season with the Pelicans, one which saw a torn Achilles to DeMarcus Cousins. He’s the most versatile big in the league today, and he should only get better. Davis did have a ton of help, though. Jrue Holiday, Rajon Rondo, and Nikola Mirotic all played big roles in the Pelicans’ success, allowing Davis to slip to No. 3 in our rankings.

2. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

Given his age and NBA tenure, this was arguably the best season of LeBron’s career. He totaled 27.5 PPG, 9.1 APG, and 8.6 RPG, despite dealing with two separate rosters, the loss of Kyrie Irving, and a significant injury to Kevin Love. Defense is the lone knock on LeBron, but he buoyed a team to a No. 4 seed, where most players in his position would have seen this team competing for ping-pong balls in the lottery.

1. James Harden, Houston Rockets

Regardless of who should win the award, Harden is definitely going to emerge victorious. Not only has he enjoyed a banner year for the league’s best team, he was thought by many to be the rightful winner last year. His sustained offensive brilliance and 30.4 PPG stat line will propel the Rockets guard to the top of this race.

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