Well it’s here.. the start of the NBA season is upon us! So we’ve looked deep into our crystal balls and come up with a set of predictions. Today we look at who we think will be crowned the league’s MVP for the 2017/18 season!
Jack Birtwhistle (The better half of the Posterized Podcast and as a fan is on the free agent market):
Kawhi Leonard. Runner up- LeBron James. There is a not so insignificant injury cloud hovering over the Spurs star to begin the season, however if the Spurs are going to be challenging for a spot in the Western Conference Finals Kawhi will need to be playing at an MVP caliber level. Coincidentally the Spurs will be competing for a spot in the Western Conference Finals because it’s the Spurs. So you can bet that if healthy Leonard will be in the conversation.
Can LeBron add to his MVP trophy cabinet or will Kawhi grab his first? // GETTY IMAGES
With so many super teams forming over the off-season many of the traditional candidates will be splitting votes with their new teammates.
Lebron will be back big time to contest the award he has made his own in 2018. With the departure of Kyrie Irving and Thomas looking at significant time on the sideline, expect James to carry this team to an East leading record and the number 1 seed.
Brandon Stevens (On his journalistic debut and a mad Thunder fan that is still recovering from KD’s departure):
Kawhi Leonard: In the words of Michael Jordan, Kawhi is the best two-way player in the game. He is also the only player to finish in the top 3 in MVP voting in the past two years. Penny Hardaway may not believe he is a superstar due to him saying that he doesn’t want to be the face of franchise but even he can’t deny that Kawhi is the best two-way player in the game. While Kawhi might not get the attention of the media as much as other players like LeBron or Durant, Kawhi is the kind of player to let his game do the talking and I believe that will ring true more than ever this year. Ever since he was drafted in 2012, Kawhi has continued to add something new and improve each year. This year will be no different and I see Kawhi taking his play-making to the next level. While Kawhi may be a little easier to shut down offensively than some other players in the MVP race, his great defence will always allow him to have an impact on every game unlike other superstars.
My biggest issue with Kawhi is he may have a slow start to the season due to his injury (tendinitis in the Quad region which can take 2-3 month to heal or 4-6 if you’ve had it before, which Kawhi has). With such a deep MVP race a slow start could hurt Kawhi and players such as Giannis, Lebron or Harden may end up with the award due to starting the season ready to go. Fortunately, Kawhi is not an average person and I have faith in the Spurs medical team to get him right in time.
Many people predict this is the year the Spurs drop off; however I disagree with this and see them finishing anywhere from 2nd to 4th in the West. With Kawhi being the lone superstar on the team he will get much of the credit for this, therefore leading to him winning the MVP award.
Zac Piesse (Armchair sports expert who aspires to be like Steve Nash on the social basketball court):
Kevin Durant. This year’s MVP race is wide open. There are many different candidates, but I think after the summer that Kevin Durant has had, he has to do something to win fans back. We all saw his performance in the Finals, where he dominated the Cavs, and truly showed his class and won games on his own back. Durant’s perception among the casual NBA fan is arguably at an all-time low, after moving to the Warriors then the Twitter fiasco, an MVP calibre season probably wouldn’t silence the haters, but it would give Durant (who is clearly sensitive AF) something for those ‘cats’ to think about.
Sam Duigan (One eyed Spurs fan who’s left hand is non existent on the basketball court):
LeBron James. The King looks fierce heading into his 15th season. A crushing finals loss coupled with the defection of running mate Kyrie Irving has fuelled the fire under the world’s best player for the upcoming season. Making the case is easy for another MVP title is easy. For quite some time we have recognised him as the world’s best player, a dominant force that can do just about everything on the basketball court. He plays both sides and his efficiency from the field has gotten better by the season. Add in more responsibility at the point guard position along with his rare passing ability, expect his assist numbers to go through the roof. Defensively he has been on a slight decline in recent years but still more than pulls his weight in big games. The addition of Jae Crowder will help ease the load on that end of the floor, ensuring LeBron is fresher down the stretch of those big games.
With more superstar combinations forming across the league expect the stat lines of the top two candidates last year in James Harden and Russell Westbrook to diminish, along with their chances at the award. Kawhi Leonard’s early injury issues may hamper his chances with the likes of Anthony Davis and Giannis Antetokounmpo not quite ready to take the next step. Kevin Durant may be the biggest threat but I think he may struggle to shine enough in such a star-studded line-up. So I’m going with the world’s best player to notch up MVP award number five, perhaps his last.