Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, Houston Rockets guard James Harden and San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard are the leading finalists for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award, the league announced Friday.
All three are first-team All-NBA performers this season.
Harden averaged career highs of 29.1 points and 11.2 assists, which led the NBA. Westbrook averaged 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists becoming the first player since Oscar Robertson in the 1961–62 season to average a triple-double for an entire season. Leonard’s career-high 25.5 points per game helped the Spurs win 61 games.
The league usually announces the winners of its regular season awards during the playoffs, but this year opted for a televised awards show to be broadcast on June 26 by TNT.
The Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Executive of the Year, the Sixth Man Award, Most Improved Player award, plus the All-Rookie and Defensive teams will also be announced during the telecast.
The finalists for Most Improved Player are Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic and Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Sixth Man award finalists are Rockets guard Lou Williams, Warriors forward Andre Iguodala, and Rockets guard Eric Gordon.
Rookie of the Year finalists are Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, Milwaukee Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon, and 76ers forward Dario Saric.
Defensive Player of the Year finalists are Warriors forward Draymond Green, Gobert, the NBA’s blocks leader and Leonard, who has won the award in each of the past two years.
Coach of the year finalists are Mike D’Antoni of the Houston Rockets, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs. Popovich has won the award three times (2003, 2012, 2014).