James Harden, LeBron James and Anthony Davis vying for MVP as NBA announces awards finalists

Jack BaerWriter
Yahoo Sports
<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/3704/" data-ylk="slk:LeBron James">LeBron James</a> is chasing a fifth career MVP, while <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/5007/" data-ylk="slk:Anthony Davis">Anthony Davis</a> going for both MVP and Defensive Player of the Year. The two will have to fight it out with James Harden for the league’s top honor. (AP Photo)
LeBron James is chasing a fifth career MVP, while Anthony Davis going for both MVP and Defensive Player of the Year. The two will have to fight it out with James Harden for the league’s top honor. (AP Photo)

The finalists for the NBA’s major awards are out and it looks like we’ll be having fun with some loaded categories this year, including at MVP and Rookie of the Year.

All award winners will be announced on June 25 during the 2018 NBA Awards, as well as other awards like Executive of the Year and the Sportsmanship Award.

Finalists for NBA MVP

Another prime season from the best basketball player alive, one of the league’s most athletic freaks putting the team on his back and the NBA’s leading scorer leading his team to the best record in the NBA. Yeah, it’s a strong group. Harden came close to winning the award last year before ultimately losing to Russell Westbrook, while Davis is looking for his first MVP and James is looking for his fifth. In this group, you have the NBA’s leaders in field goals (James), 2-point field goals (Davis) and 3-point field goals (Harden).

Finalists for NBA Defensive Player of the Year

After a three-year reign shared between Draymond Green and Kawhi Leonard, big men make up the entire group of finalists this year. Each player anchored their team’s defense this year on the way to a playoff run and finished top 4 in the league in blocks.

Finalists for NBA Rookie of the Year

Probably the most clear-cut group of finalists for any award this season, Mitchell, Simmons and Tatum are all players their teams will be building around for years. Who you think should win out is basically a Choose Your Own Adventure depending on the questions of whether or not Simmons should count as a rookie (Mitchell has thoughts on that) and how much you care about the players’ playoffs performance. Of course, it’s important to note these awards are voted on during the regular season, but the postseason inevitably colors the perceptions of these players.

Finalists for NBA Most-Improved Player

Oladipo turned into one of the league’s top scorers this season, nabbing his first career All-Star berth and leading a Pacers team that surprised many with a fifth-place finish in the Eastern Conference standings. Capela was a key component of the high-octane Rockets, anchoring the inside while three-pointers reigned from the perimeter. Dinwiddie finished seventh in the NBA in assists after being thrust into the starting point guard role.

Finalists for NBA Sixth Man of the Year

The winner of this award in 2015 with Toronto, Williams figures to be the favorite after leading the Clippers in scoring with 22.6 points per game despite starting just 19 of his 79 games this year. However, Gordon and VanVleet were both key parts of teams with the best regular season records in their respective conferences this season. Gordon is also the reigning champ in this award and posted an even higher scoring average this year.

Finalists for NBA Coach of the Year

  • Brad Stevens, Celtics

  • Quin Snyder, Jazz

  • Dwane Casey, Raptors

Well, this is awkward. Casey was fired by the Raptors less than a week ago after a putrid showing against the Cavaliers, but an excellent regular season means he’ll be part of this group. Stevens’ Celtics continued their ascent in the Eastern Conference despite losing Gordon Hayward for nearly the entire season and Kyrie Irving in April, while Snyder’s Jazz team also made up for a lack of Hayward by rallying to a playoff berth.

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