The season is winding down, and it is time to discuss NBA awards

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Check out the 5 highest-scoring seasons in NBA historical past.

— Wilt Chamberlain scored 4,029 factors in 1961-62.

— Chamberlain scored 3,586 in 1962-63.

— Michael Jordan scored 3,041 factors in 1986-87.

— Chamberlain scored 3,033 in 1960-61.

— Chamberlain scored 2,948 factors in 1963-64.

There they’re. The 5 finest seasons when it comes to factors that the NBA has ever seen. And people 5 seasons all have one thing in widespread — after they had been over, somebody not named Chamberlain or Jordan was the MVP.

What James Harden did this season for the Houston Rockets was scintillating. He scored 50 or extra factors 9 instances. He scored 61 twice. He scored at the very least 30 factors in 32 consecutive video games, a stretch that lasted greater than two months. He’ll end this season with the seventh-highest scoring common in NBA historical past and win the scoring title by greater than eight factors per recreation — a ridiculous margin.

He wins Most Voluminous Factors.

However possibly not the Most Beneficial Participant.

There are some large particular person races within the NBA this season, with a slew of deserving candidates for coach of the yr, a moderately surprising two-person race for rookie of the yr, and the annual befuddlement about who ought to win defensive participant of the yr. The poll that voters will agonize over most, in some circumstances, would be the one for MVP.

Is it Harden, for the second straight yr?

Or is it Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo?

Compelling circumstances will be made both means. Harden carried the Rockets and have become essentially the most unguardable participant within the league. Antetokounmpo took a group that completed seventh within the East final yr and lifted it to the No. 1 total seed within the NBA, persevering with his meteoric rise towards complete superstardom.

Harden is the higher scorer, Antetokounmpo the extra correct shooter. Harden is the higher ballhandler and passer, Antetokounmpo the higher rebounder and defender. Take Antetokounmpo off the Bucks, and so they’d be fortunate to make the playoffs. Take Harden off the Rockets, and so they’d be fortunate to make the playoffs.

The most important argument for Harden is the scoring. It has been sensational, with out query.

However there may be precedent, as Chamberlain and Jordan realized. Even a gazillion factors doesn’t assure anybody the Maurice Podoloff Trophy.

When these playoffs are over and the trophy is lastly handed out in late June, Harden will discover out if scoring was sufficient to win the vote this time.

It’s custom on this area to finish the common season by having AP Basketball Writers Brian Mahoney and Tim Reynolds reveal their decisions for sure awards and predict what’s going to occur within the playoffs.

Their alternatives:

MVP

Mahoney: Antetokounmpo. Robust to demote Harden when he was much more worthwhile this season than final, however can’t ignore a man with the Greek Freak’s stats on the shock winningest group within the league.

Reynolds: Antetokounmpo. He will get the nod over Harden as a result of the Bucks loved a degree of success that few anticipated, and he’s why.

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER

Mahoney: D’Angelo Russell, Brooklyn. Didn’t simply have a fantastic season. He saved one for a Nets group that was going nowhere.

Reynolds: Pascal Siakam, Toronto. The Raptors had been 14-Three when he had a double-double, and he greater than doubled his scoring common.

COACH OF THE YEAR

Mahoney: Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee. Oversaw enhancements throughout the board to show a group with playoff aspirations into one with championship aspirations.

Reynolds: Doc Rivers, LA Clippers. Onerous name over Budenholzer. Steve Kerr, Nick Nurse, Steve Clifford, Michael Malone and Kenny Atkinson additionally deserving.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Mahoney: Luka Doncic, Dallas. Not many gamers turn into must-see TV earlier than they even flip 20.

Reynolds: Luka Doncic, Dallas. Trae Younger got here on like gangbusters on the finish of the yr, however Doncic was higher from begin to end.

EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPION

Mahoney: Milwaukee. The Bucks accomplish that many issues properly that they will discover a means even when issues get more durable.

Reynolds: Toronto. Milwaukee is constructed for the lengthy haul and won’t be prepared — but. However for the Raptors, if not now, then when?

WESTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPION

Mahoney: Golden State. Nonetheless by far the very best mixture of expertise and expertise within the league.

Reynolds: Golden State. If wholesome, the Warriors are nonetheless the one to beat. They usually need to ship Oracle Enviornment out the appropriate means.

NBA CHAMPIONS

Mahoney: Warriors in 6.

Reynolds: Warriors in 5.

BOLD OFFSEASON PREDICTION

Mahoney: The July Four fireworks increase brightest in New York, the place Kevin Durant is the centerpiece of a reworked Knicks group.

Reynolds: If the Warriors win this title, and they need to, count on the core to all come again and attempt to four-peat. Sure, together with Durant.



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