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With the NBA set to return to normal after a hectic All-Star weekend and an exciting trade deadline, here’s a look at the top candidates in the running for the NBA’s MVP Award this year. I’ll also add in who I think will take the award home this season as we come into the closing stages of the regular season before the NBA Playoffs begin.

6. Kawhi Leonard

‘The Claw’ has had a great season for the San Antonio Spurs so far leading San Antonio to a 48W-13L record. This leaves the Spurs lying in the 2nd spot in the Western Conference, just behind the Golden State Warriors.

Leonard has been impressive on the defensive end of the court but he has also stepped up his offensive game this season. Leonard is averaging 26.1 ppg, 3.4 apg and 6.0 rpg so far this season and he has been like a machine this season. Leonard is still only 25 years old and has time on his side to develop into an even better player.

Leonard is a candidate for the MVP Award this year. In the end, I don’t think he will actually win the award but it’s scary to think what he can do in the future as he continues to grow as a player.

5. LeBron James

Next up on the list is LeBron James. James has already won the MVP Award four times before in his career. LeBron has been great for the Cavs this season leading his hometown team to a 42W-19L record leaving them first in the East. In that period of time, LeBron has averaged 25.9 ppg, 8.9 apg and 8 rpg.

James will be wanting to win the NBA Championship again this year and record back-to-back title victories for Cleveland and there’s no player more capable of stepping up to the challenge than LeBron James.

4. Kevin Durant

Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: USATSI-180840 ORIG FILE ID: 20140506_jla_aa4_729.jpg

Durant has had a controversial year so far after he signed with the Golden State Warriors during the offseason. Even though Durant has received lots of criticism after his decision to join the Warriors, it hasn’t stopped him from playing excellent basketball.

Durant has been a major Key to Golden State’s success so far this season and we’ve seen him averaging 25.3 ppg, 4.8 apg and 8.2 rpg which has guided the Warriors to a 50W-11L record.

Some people think Durant (28 years old) is in the prime of his career at the minute and this is why we have him lying in fourth on the MVP ladder.

Note: KD picked up an injury in Sunday night’s game against the Washington Wizards and is expected to miss the rest of the NBA’s regular season. This may affect whether or not he wins the MVP Award.

3. Isaiah Thomas

Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The ‘Little Man’ has been the centerpiece to the Boston Celtics success so far this season. Thomas has led the team to a second seed in the Eastern Conference and the Celtics currently have a 40W-22L record.

Thomas has averaged 29.4 ppg and 6.2 apg so far for the Celtics. Thomas earned himself his 2nd All-Star selection this year and has proven to be a fan favorite in the NBA.

Thomas has single-handedly dragged the Boston Celtics out of the rebuilding process in the past year and a half and he is the main reason as to why the Boston Celtics are title contenders this year. Thomas has also shown us that he is a fourth quarter beast, leading the League in fourth quarter points.

All these factors contribute as to why Thomas lies third in the NBA MVP ladder, just behind Russell Westbrook and ‘The Beard’ – James Harden.

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2. Russell Westbrook

After being left on his own in Oklahoma, Westbrook has stepped up to the mark, playing some of the best basketball of his life so far this season for the Thunder.

Russell currently averages 31.7 ppg, 10.1 apg and 10.7 rpg for the Thunder. Westbrook is averaging a triple-double a game so far in the season and it’s looking like we’ll see him go the rest of the season doing so.

The Thunder look like they’ll make the Playoffs this year as they currently have a 35W-27L record which leaves them 7th in the West. All credit for this can be given to Russell Westbrook who just misses out on the first spot in the Race to the MVP Award.

1. James Harden

The Beard has been sensational this year in his first season playing at the point guard role. People weren’t sure how the change of position would suit Harden but he’s been amazing and has led the Houston Rockets to a 44W-19L record.

After losing Dwight Howard during the Summer, Harden was left all alone in Houston but that hasn’t stopped him leading the team to the third seed in the tough Western Conference.

In doing so Harden has averaged 28.8 ppg, 11.3 apg and 8 rpg. Harden is just below averaging a triple-double a game.

Harden edges just above Westbrook in the race to the MVP Award this year because he has led the Rockets to more wins and has them in the higher seed in the West. Expect to see ‘The Beard’ take home the MVP Award when the Playoffs come around.

There will be a special show aired on TNT this year featuring many talented players and coaches, both past and present. We will see all the NBA awards being given out on the day with awards such as the Defensive Player Of The Year, Most Improved Player award and of course – The NBA’s Most Valuable Player award being handed out.

There’s our predictions for the NBA MVP race this year but we’ll just have to wait and see what happens for the rest of the regular season to find out who actually takes home the MVP Award. The winner of the NBA MVP Award will be announced on Monday, the 26th of June, 2017.

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