Kawhi Leonard Makes Everyone Wonder If He, Not James Harden, Should Be MVP

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Image 1 of 3 Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) looks to drive past Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) during the first half of Game 2 of the second round of the Western Conference playoffs at the AT&T Center on May 3, 2017, in San Antonio. less Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) looks to drive past Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) during the first half of Game 2 of the second round of the Western Conference playoffs at the AT&T Center on May 3, ... more Photo: Karen Warren /Houston Chronicle Image 2 of 3 Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard (2) defends against the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook (0) at the AT&T Center on Jan. 31, 2017. Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard (2) defends against the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook (0) at the AT&T Center on Jan. 31, 2017. Photo: Kin Man Hui /San Antonio Express-News Image 3 of 3 Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard defends the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James during first half action on March 27, 2017 at the AT&T Center. Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard defends the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James during first half action on March 27, 2017 at the AT&T Center. Photo: Edward A. Ornelas /San Antonio Express-News Likely NBA MVP contenders have their pros and cons 1 / 3 Back to Gallery

It’s that time of the summer. It’s too hot and professional basketball feels as though it has been on a hiatus far too long.

So why not look ahead to next season? Of all of the individual accolades players can win, the Most Valuable Player award is the most coveted. There’s much debate on whether it should be given to the best player in the league or to the guy who brings the most value to his team.

Some think it should be reserved for a player on an elite team. Others think wins and losses shouldn’t be considered for an award that’s supposed to recognize one player’s greatness.

Assessing who is most deserving with any criteria is incredibly hard given the insane amount of talent the elite few have in the NBA.

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Last season, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook won the MVP award, receiving 69 first-place votes and 888 points from a panel of 100 media members and a fan vote. Houston’s James Harden was second with 22 first-place votes and 753 points. The Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard was third with nine first-place votes and 500 points. Cleveland’s LeBron James came in fourth with one first-place vote and 333 points.

Let’s take a closer look at those four players, and why or why not they might win league MVP moving forward:

LeBron James

Reasons he will take it: James is arguably the best player alive. He could go down in the history books alongside the few and very few, such as Michael Jordan. He could probably win this award every season. Not to mention, James is going to have to rely on himself more next season. Kyrie Irving has one foot out the door, and even if Irving remains on Cleveland’s roster, there’s going to be an air of discord. With the load on James’ back, expect him to play incredible basketball. After making the NBA Finals seven straight seasons, he’s going to do everything in his power to prevent the Cavaliers from faltering. And for someone as talented as James, who is already a four-time MVP, when he gives it his all, there’s very little anyone can do to stop him.

Reasons he won’t: He has already won four MVP awards. The media members who vote may want to give it to someone else, instead of circling back to the same guy once again. Also, James is 32 years old, and it’s questionable whether he still has enough energy to do it all on both ends of the court throughout the 82-game season. The playoffs, however, are a different story. James will do it all during the postseason, where last season he averaged a staggering 32.8 points, 9.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists. Next postseason he will hoist his team on his back and be spectacular yet again. But that’s all for naught because the award is based on regular-season play.

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Media: MySanAntonio.com

Kawhi Leonard

Reasons he will take it: Even Jordan said Leonard is the best two-way player in the league. Being the best player on offense and defense should be synonymous with being the best player, period. He won NBA Defensive Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons (2014-15, 2015-16) and has averaged better than 20 points the last two seasons. There’s even a commercial that questions whether Leonard could score on Leonard. It’s a fair question. He may be the only guy good enough to defend or score on himself.

Reasons he won’t

: He plays too much defense. Even though half of the game is played on the defensive end, that side of the court seems to be extremely undervalued in terms of the MVP award. Instead it’s given to the guy who produces the flashiest stat lines, something Leonard has never cared about. Also, under Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, no one guy will ever be scoring 30-plus points a game on a regular basis. That’s just not how the Spurs’ offense works.

Russell Westbrook

Reasons he will take it: The numbers he put up last year were unreal. He became the second player in NBA history to average a triple-double, and he did it while leading the league in scoring. He averaged 31.6 points,10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists a game. It’s no wonder why he won the award last season. He took a team to the playoffs that was reeling after Kevin Durant decided to jump ship for the Warriors. If Westbrook can repeat that type of a season, it’s nearly impossible to give the MVP trophy to anyone else.

Reasons he won’t: Even though it is a regular-season award, the fact Westbrook couldn’t carry his team over the Houston Rockets when they met in the first round is still fresh in everyone’s minds. That was billed as a showdown between the top two MVP contenders, Westbrook and Harden. And it was Harden who came out victorious. Also, Westbrook won’t have to do as much next season now that the Thunder have acquired Paul George. With George on the court, the Thunder will be a better team, but Westbrook’s numbers will take a dip. With the heavy weight placed on stats, a slight dip could make an astronomical difference in the voting.

James Harden

Reasons he will take it: Some think Harden should have won the award last season, and people like to make things fair. Harden, like Westbrook, also had an historic 2016-17 season. Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni asked Harden to become a facilitator instead of just a scorer, and Harden ran with that request. He led the league in assists (11.2 per game) while also averaging 29.1 points and 8.1 rebounds. He took a Rockets team that no one thought would make much noise to a third-place finish in the Western Conference. There’s a camp that thinks because Harden led his team to a better seed than the Thunder, he should have taken home the hardware since basketball is a team sport. Now that Chris Paul has joined forces with Harden, he will have to do much less in the assist category, so his numbers might not be as impressive next season. But the Rockets could be legitimate title contenders. Don’t be surprised if voters reward the guy who successfully helped lure one of the top point guards in the league to the Rockets.

Reasons he won’t: What happened to Harden in Game 6 of the second-round playoff series against the Spurs? Facing elimination in what was the most important game of the year for his team, he disappeared. Sure, that will be nothing but a distant memory when it’s time to vote, but that was such an epic disappearing act by such a big star that it has been emblazoned in many memories. Harden will have to show that he can come through when it matters the most to overcome that.

mrohlin@express-news.net

Twitter: @melissarohlin

This is source I found from another site, main source you can find in last paragraph

Source : http://www.expressnews.com/sports/spurs/article/Likely-NBA-MVP-contenders-have-their-pros-and-cons-11817399.php

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