While the 2021 MVP Race is heating up, there probably hasn't been an MVP Race quite like the one we witnessed in 2017. That was the year where 5 guys had a legitimate chance of hoisting the trophy. Of course, there is only one winner and that ended up going towards an Oklahoma City Thunder star who has a historical season.
Here are the 5 contenders for the MVP Award in 2017, and the highlights of their incredible seasons.
Isaiah Thomas Was The King Of The 4th Quarter
Isaiah Thomas is one of the most beloved stars in Boston Celtics history. Thomas was traded a few times in the league before finding a home in Boston, where he took off and became one of the best point guards in the league. Despite standing only 5'9", Thomas averaged 28.9 PPG and was the emotional leader for a franchise that needed one since the Kevin Garnett days.
Thomas had a very memorable season which saw him lead the Celtics to a conference-leading 53-29 record, and he even played in the playoffs despite suffering the loss of his sister. Thomas is a fan favorite who had his best season with the Celtics in 2017, and he will never be able to repeat such a historical year for him.
LeBron James... Did LeBron James Things
What can we say about LeBron James? Every single year, LeBron James deserves the MVP Award. He is the best player in the world, thanks to his leadership and overall impact on the game. LeBron is not only the most physically dominant athlete in the game, but he is the smartest. And that's why he was in the running unsurprisingly in 2017.
James averaged 26.4 PPG, 8.6 RPG, and 8.7 APG which is in line with what LeBron does every year. James was the superstar for the Cavaliers and led them to a 51-31 record (2nd in the East). Perhaps no player dominates a game like LeBron James, but he still finished behind 3 players which is an indication of how tight the MVP Race was.
Kawhi Leonard Broke Through To Become One Of The Best Players In The World
Kawhi Leonard was already established as a great 2-way player, winning Defensive Player of the Year and also winning Finals MVP with the San Antonio Spurs. But Leonard as always considered the "young guy" with the Spurs, who were led by the likes of Tim Duncan and Tony Parker.
But 2017 was the year Kawhi Leonard became one of the best players in the world. Leonard averaged 25.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG, and 1.8 SPG en route to a terrific season with the Spurs. Unfortunately for him, Leonard went down with an injury thanks to a reckless play by Zaza Pachulia which effectively ended his reign with the Spurs.
The Beard Led The League In Assists And Finished Second Place
James Harden is one of the greatest players to have ever worn the Houston Rockets jersey. Harden was simply a one-man wrecking crew with the Rockets, and arguably the most unstoppable offensive force in the modern era. In 2017, Harden was on another level. He averaged 29.1 PPG and even averaged 11.2 APG, which led the league.
The Beard and the Rockets finished with a 55-27 record and were one of the top contending teams in the Western Conference with the third seed. Harden finished second in the MVP Race that year, and he would have easily won it in any other season. Unfortunately for The Beard, one man managed to usurp Harden's terrific season.
Russell Westbrook Did The Unthinkable To Capture The MVP Award
Nobody would have ever thought that a player would ever average a triple-double in a single season. It is simply too difficult to be able to score in double digits, get at least 10 rebounds, and set up baskets at least 10 times. The last player to ever do that was Oscar Robertson in 1962, where he averaged 30.8 PPG, 12.5 RPG, and 11.4 APG. But Russell Westbrook somehow did it.
With Kevin Durant fleeing to Golden State, Westbrook was forced to fend on his own and he put up a historically great triple-double. Westbrook averaged 31.6 PPG, 10.7 RPG, and 10.4 APG in a season where he carried a very average team to the playoffs. Even when Westbrook did the impossible by averaging a triple-double, he capped it off with an incredible game-winner during the final game of the season.
Credit for an idea: MJs GOAT