UHM’s 2016-17 NBA Regular Season Award Predictions
NBA Most Valuable Player Award (MVP)
James Harden – Houston Rockets
This year the NBA will FEAR THE BEARD as James Harden takes home the MVP award in my final prediction. Many thought that Harden should have been the MVP in 2014 (me excluded) when Stephen Curry won his first MVP award. In fact, at the first annual NBA Player’s Association Awards, his peers even voted for Harden over Stephen Curry to receive the award. Last season was one of turmoil for the Rockets, but when you look at Harden’s stats he was one of the only reliable things going for the team. Their coach was FIRED, there was tension between management and star players and tension on the court between Dwight Howard and Harden, but yet Harden still managed to average 29 Points, 8 Assists and 6 Rebounds per game last year; He was ROBBED of All-NBA Team honors. He’s the only player in NBA history to have those type of averages and not be featured on the All-NBA First, Second or Third team.
I feel that the blatant disrespect that he suffered last year will only ignite him to wreak havoc on the league this season. With the additions of Eric Gordon, Nene and Ryan Anderson and the hiring of new head coach Mike D’Antoni, Harden’s stats are going to skyrocket this year. Coach D’Antoni’s fast paced offense is just what James Harden needs to pad his stats; in fact, Coach D’Antoni has already said that Harden will be the teams starting point guard this year (which is different from the shooting guard position that he’s been playing these past few seasons); This gives him a mismatch on many nights as their aren’t many if any “point guards” in the league (outside of possibly Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul despite his height) who can hold James Harden. He’ll still be that scoring threat and his assists and rebounds will be up as he dominates the ball even more this year. I also feel his team will return to it’s successful ways under Coach D’Antoni; this is the perfect recipe for a James Harden MVP season.
2016-17 Projected Stats: 28.6 Points, 10.2 Assists, 8.3 Rebounds and 1.6 Steals per game (38 Minutes per game)
2nd Option – Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder): The runner up or second option is pretty obvious if he’s not already everybody’s favorite to win the MVP this year and that’s Russell Westbrook. Russell was a walking triple double last year and everyone (including me) expect him to do the same this year if not more. With no KD or Serge Ibaka anymore Russell now has the full reigns of the team to do as he pleases. He’ll have the greenest light in the NBA and his stats (if healthy) will definitely reflect that. Last year he averaged 24 Points per game along with career highs in assists and rebounds at 10.4 and 8 per game respectively. Many feel that Russell will become the second player ever after The Big “O”, Oscar Robertson to average a triple double for the regular season. Him and Harden will definitely battle for “Most Valuable” honors, but I feel Harden’s teams may be better overall record wise which might give him the slight edge in my opinion.
Dark Horse Candidate – Damian Lillard (Portland Trailblazers): Damian Lillard is my Dark House to win the MVP this year. The Portland Trailblazers have been consistently good and Damian has raised his game every year since entering the league. He’s clearly the leader of the Portland Trailblazers and when he gets HOT it’s virtually impossible to stop him. If he can lead the Trailblazers to a top 4 seed in the Western Conference this year it’ll be pretty hard not to have his name in the conversation.