If San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard is in for another MVP-caliber season, who will be his biggest challengers?
San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard lost out on the 2016-17 NBA MVP Award to Russell Westbrook, who won it for the first time. James Harden of the Houston Rockets placed second.
The opportunity will be there for Leonard to win the award in 2017-18. With him as the team’s best player and a likely top-three or four spot in the Western Conference, he should remain in the award picture for this season.
There will be contenders to Leonard, however. Some could be recent names, while others might be new to the top of the league. Who will be Klaw’s competition?
5. Russell Westbrook
Westbrook had a historic season in 2016-17, which was well documented throughout. He became the first player since Oscar Robertson to average a triple-double, putting up 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.4 assists. It gave him the 2016-17 NBA MVP Award, the first of his career and after Kevin Durant departed for the Golden State Warriors.
Westbrook will have an opportunity at a second consecutive award. This time, it will be with Paul George at his side. That may dampen expectations for Westbrook to be a back-to-back winner, however, as having a talented player sharing the load won’t earn the UCLA product extra votes.
It’s difficult to think Westbrook can replicate the triple-double average, but he should still be in line for another terrific season. Look for him to stay just on the outside of the MVP voting.