The NBA announced its 2019-20 season awards finalists, and Los Angeles Lakers All-Star LeBron James is in the running for MVP along with Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks and James Harden of the Houston Rockets.
James has had a resurgence at 35 years of age this year after an injury-plagued 2018-19 season, leading the Lakers to the best record in the Western Conference. In 64 games this season, James has averaged 25.3 points and 8.0 rebounds to go along with a lead-leading 10.3 assists.
He has also improved his play on the defensive end of the floor, perhaps putting his name in the conversation for an NBA All-Defensive Team spot. While James has been great this season, he does face some stiff competition in Antetokounmpo and Harden.
The reigning MVP, Antetokounmpo, has had another outstanding season, leading the Bucks to the best record in the NBA while averaging 29.7 points, 13.7 rebounds, 5.8 assists and shooting an efficient 55.5% from the field.
He has also been a force on the defensive end of the floor and is one of the three finalists for NBA Defensive Player of the Year. With the Bucks having both the highest offensive and defensive rating in the NBA, Antetokounmpo has to be considered the favorite for MVP.
Harden is having another typical great season as well though, leading the league in scoring at 34.3 points per game to go along with 6.4 rebounds and 7.5 assists.
The voters sent in their ballots before the NBA’s restart in the Orlando bubble, so the eight seeding games do not go towards these awards. The winners will be announced in the coming weeks during TNT’s coverage of the NBA’s restart.
Davis nominated for Defensive Player of the Year
In addition to James, the Lakers’ other star, Anthony Davis, was also recognized for his stellar season by being nominated for NBA Defensive Player of the Year along with Antetokounmpo and the reigning winner, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert.
Davis has been the anchor of a much-improved Lakers defensive this season, averaging 9.4 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 2.3 blocks, which ranks third in the league.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel, who was a snub for NBA Coach of the Year, recently stated his case for his two stars to be recognized by the league.
“Nobody impacts winning more than LeBron James. I believe he should be the MVP this year, and I believe Anthony Davis should be Defensive Player of the Year,” Vogel said. “I hope those awards go to our two players. That’s not to take anything away from some of the other candidates.
“What LeBron means to our team, even before the season begins when the roster is being put together, with the number of guys on the Lakers because LeBron James is here and they want to play with him. I think it starts there. And then obviously what he’s able to do on the basketball court, orchestrating the offense, leading the league in assists and really setting the tone on the defensive end.
“We’re the third-best defense in the NBA, best in the West, and a lot of that comes from his commitment this season, which has been greater than the last few years from what I’m told. It has really set us apart in terms of currently having the best record in the Western Conference. I’m hopeful those two awards go to those two players.”
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