With the book closed on the 2017-18 NBA season, we pick out our team of the season (or All-NBA First-Team if you like).
TEAM OF THE SEASON
Naturally, the frontrunner for MVP should be one of the five best players on the season. The killer crossovers, the stepback 3s, the Euro steps… Harden’s game is in many ways the antithesis of beautiful, free-flowing basketball, but there’s no doubting it’s effective and an art form in and of itself. There are few players in the history of the game better at scoring in one-one-one situations and Harden’s stature in today’s hierarchy is near the very top.
While Harden no doubt gets a spot on the team, choosing his backcourt mate makes for a decision that’s a little less obvious. If not for his 31 games missed to injury, Stephen Curry would earn the spot after another fantastic, but truncated, season. Instead, Lillard is deserving of the recognition, finishing as a back-end MVP candidate for leading Portland to the third-best record in the West and averaging 26.9 points, 6.6 assists and 4.5 rebounds. Often snubbed, Lillard finally gets his due.
It’s difficult to go into hyperbole with LeBron because he continues to amaze, even into his 15th season. At the age of 33, James had one of the best seasons of his career, in which he played all 82 games for the first time and averaged 27.5 points, tied a career-high with 8.6 rebounds and set a new benchmark with 9.1 assists. He’s a walking triple-double and even though his defence has slipped over the years – mostly due to effort – LeBron remains the best player in the world and a dominant singular force.
He may not end up as one of the top vote-getters for MVP, but Durant had an extremely efficient campaign that went under the radar because of the Warriors mostly sleepwalking through the regular season. He averaged 26.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.4 assists while almost being part of the 40-50-90 club for the second time in his career, shooting 51.6 per cent from the field, 41.9 per cent on 3s and 88.9 per cent at the free throw line. Another title and Finals MVP wasn’t a bad way to end it.
The Pelicans two-way star wasn’t just the best big man in the league, he had a legitimate case for MVP – or least for runner-up to Harden – after his torrid stretch in the wake of DeMarcus Cousins‘ season-ending injury. One of the few players who can impact the game at an elite level on both ends of the Court, Davis averaged 28.1 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and 1.5 steals. He also extended his range and shot 34.0 per cent from deep. Just an absolute terror.
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