1. Kevin Durant, SF, Golden State Warriors
2. LeBron James, SF, Cleveland Cavaliers
3. Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Antonio Spurs
The results of the MVP award are the ones that would be the most drastically affected if votes weren’t sent in until the conclusion of the postseason. Durant was the leading scorer on a team that went 16-1 through the playoffs on the way to a championship, and he’d almost certainly get the nod.
LeBron, meanwhile, did as much as humanly possible to give his Cavs a chance against those ridiculous Warriors, and Leonard led his Spurs to the conference finals — and a 25-point third-quarter lead in Game 1 against Golden State — before he was sidelined due to injury for the remainder of the series.
Russell Westbrook’s triple-doubles don’t feel nearly as important or special now that we’ve gotten some distance from them, especially when considering his Thunder finished the year just 10th in the league-wide standings, and lost in five games in the first round of the playoffs. Somewhat similarly, James Harden leading the Rockets to a three-seed while racking up plenty of triple-doubles of his own lost a bit of luster after the way his team flamed out of the posteason against the Spurs.
(Actual finalists: OKC’s Westbrook, Leonard, Harden)
Kelley L Cox Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports