It was a memorable offseason for the NBA. The best player in the world found a new home, we learned that Kawhi Leonard can’t laugh and Jimmy Butler had one of the wildest practices in sports history. After all that, the NBA regular season is finally underway, and it’s time to look ahead to the MVP race. Will LeBron carry LA to a title? Will Harden repeat? Is this the year that AD or Giannis finally wins it? In the weekly roundtable, DC sports writers argue their case for who will be named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in June.
Jorge Eckardt, Campus Correspondent
It’s a really simple and short answer for me. LeBron James. He arguably should have won the MVP last year, as he had an overall better season than Harden stats-wise, not to mention he basically single-handedly carried the Cavs to the finals. Now, he’s in a better situation with much better pieces around him, which can only lead to good things. Yes, he will turn 34 this season but he has shown no signs whatsoever of slowing down so I don’t expect it to happen any time soon. The man is simply a beast. He’s the GOAT, end of story.
Neil Simmons, Campus Correspondent
Call me a homer, but I’m picking Kyrie Irving to take home the hardware this season. He’s the alpha male on an absolutely loaded Celtics squad, and could rack up 20 points and 15 dimes a night. Boston could easily crack 60 wins this season and make the finals, after falling one game short last spring without Irving for the entire postseason. Irving was sensational for the Celtics last season, and having a healthy Gordon Hayward beside him for a full season will only make him that much better. The East is Boston’s to win, and Irving has a golden opportunity to put together an MVP campaign.
Amir Clato-Day, Campus Correspondent
Honestly, LeBron should win MVP every year–he’s just that valuable no matter what team he’s on and it’ll remain the case this year on the Lakers. However, like the NFL can’t vote Tom Brady as MVP every year, the NBA also can’t for LeBron. This year’s MVP is going to be someone new and intriguing and that someone will be Kawhi Leonard. Because he barely played last year, it seems like most people forgot how good Kawhi really is. This year, on a new and deep team where he’ll be free of relationships, Kawhi will remind everyone why he’s a top-three player. I expect him to lead Toronto deep into the playoffs and to have an individual season earning him the MVP award.
Kevin Arnold, Staff Writer
The obvious choice for MVP year after year is LeBron James, and deservingly so. It makes sense that this would be the year he breaks his five-year hiatus from the league’s highest personal achievement, but I think a different face will hoist the trophy this year. Anthony Davis has been in contention for the award in seasons past, most notably finishing third in voting a season ago. Vegas has Davis’ odds to win the award at +350, with LeBron as the only player ahead of him. “The Brow” has made a number of All-NBA and All-Defensive teams in his six-year career but no individual awards. Part of it may be due to playing in a small market but with career numbers of 23 ppg, 10 rpg and more than 2 bpg, Davis is more than deserving of the MVP spotlight. As long as he can match, or even increase his production, and stay healthy, year seven in The Association may be historical for AD.
Conner Gilson, Campus Correspondent
One man, one brow, Anthony Davis is my pick to win MVP this season. Davis has been in conversation for most valuable player since he entered the league in 2012. Two things, however, have prevented him from winning the award: his inability to stay on the court and some competition for touches, particularly with Boogie Cousins crowding the front court last season. But Davis has now played 75 games in back-to-back seasons, and Cousins hopped on the Warriors bandwagon, so all signs are go for The Brow to put up some jaw-dropping stats. Without Cousins last season, AD averaged nearly 30 points, 12 rebounds, 3.5 blocks and 2 steals. As long as the Pelicans end the season with a decent record, those are numbers that should without a doubt get Davis his first DPOY, but should also have him hoisting the first MVP award of his career.
Zac Lane, Campus Correspondent
Reading the other responses here shocked me because I realized I’ll be the first one to predict the rightful MVP. He’s a freak, he’s Greek, he plays for a Bucks team with a new head coach that prioritizes three-point shooting, ball movement and pace. Giannis Antetokounmpo is on the verge of another breakout year after just having one. 26.9 points, 10 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game last year for the Freak while spending most of the year with a first-time interim head coach. This is his age-24 season and also the first without Lebron James owning the eastern conference playoff gauntlet. The Bucks have the chance to make it into a top-three seed in the east and if Giannis’ stats improve on last year’s performance, it’ll be tough to deny the man the honor.
Matt Barresi, Staff Writer
Kawhi Leonard. Believe me, I’m a Celtics fan here, and I don’t want it to happen, but I am in on the Kawhi comeback narrative. People forget how good he was his last healthy year. He was unquestionably a top-three player in the league and, if Russ wasn’t putting up a triple-double, was going to be a serious MVP candidate. The injury does scare me a little bit, but I have been convinced it was far more of an “I don’t want to be here anymore” thing than an injury thing as his time in San Antonio concluded. There is hype for Boston, but the Raptors could easily be the best team in the East, and in that scenario Kawhi could easily be leading them as he has returned to form. Meanwhile, the Lakers (LeBron), Thunder (Russ) and Bucks (Giannis) aren’t going to be good enough, the Warriors are too spread out and I just don’t see a repeat for Harden. Kawhi was really good–who’s to say he didn’t get better?
Danny Barletta, Campus Correspondent
Contrary to popular belief, MVP is not the best player in the league. It is the most VALUABLE player to his team. So pretty much if you take this guy off the team, they would be pretty awful. Obviously, you can always make the case for Lebron, but I’m going to go with Mr. Triple Double himself, Russell Westbrook. Ultimately, I believe Carmelo Anthony’s departure was the best thing for the Thunder. It will allow Russ to get back to what he did two years ago when he won the MVP, only this time with Paul George as his right-hand man. I think the Thunder will win at least 55 games this season and be towards the top of the Western Conference, and the main reason will be because of the tremendous play of Russell Westbrook. I think he can definitely average a triple double again and put up some more astounding numbers this year. He will be the most valuable player to his team this season.
Nate Fields, Campus Correspondent
Never before has the NBA seen a player like Giannis Antetokounmpo. He stands at 6-foot-11, has a wingspan of 7-foot-3 and has athleticism that can match any other player in the league. There’s not a lot of players that can jump over someone fully standing and dunk an alley-oop. And imagine if he can develop a consistent jump shot; it’s a very scary thought. His physical attributes truly are insane, and last season he started to use those attributes even more and progress as one of the best players in the league. Giannis, however, is faced with a tough task this season, having to play in a very competitive and young Eastern Conference. Most analysts and reporters only talk about the Celtics, the Sixers and the Raptors, but the Bucks in my opinion have the best player in the East, and if Giannis can lead his team deep into the playoffs, there’s a very good chance he’ll be holding that MVP trophy at the end of the season.