On Friday, before Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the NBA announced the finalists for all of their major awards. LeBron James, considered to be in the race all season, is not one of the three finalists.
The three finalists for the award are Rockets guard James Harden, Thunder guard Russell Westbrook and Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard. SB Nation’s Rockets blog, The Dream Shake, did 100-person media panel that predicts that Westbrook will win the award.
James’ absence is likely due to the Cavaliers’ lackluster play towards the regular season and the team’s general apathy for the regular season. And while James had an outstanding regular season — 26.4 points per game, 8.7 assists and 8.6 rebounds per game — his candidacy didn’t have the hook that Westbrook or Harden did. Still, it’s a bit odd to not have the best player in the world as a finalist.
The NBA also announced finalists for Rookie of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, Coach of the Year, Most Improved Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and other awards. TNT, who will air the awards show hosted by Drake, is having votes vote on six special categories: Best Style, Block of the Year, Game-Winner of the Year, Assist of the Year, Dunk of the Year, and Performance of the Year.
The only Cavalier up for an award is Iman Shumpert, who was nominated for Best Style along with Westbrook and Dwyane Wade.
Here are all of the nominees. They will be announced on June 26 on the season-ending awards show on TNT.
Most Valuable Player
Coach of the Year
Sixth Man of the Year
Rookie of the Year
Defensive Player of the Year
Most Improved Player