Favorites for the NBA Finals MVP
The NBA Finals are fast approaching. The culmination of another season in the most prestigious basketball tournament in the world will have plenty of action for fans to engage with.
A huge influence on the outcome of the series of Finals games will be the star players of each club.
The MVP of the Finals, or ‘most valuable player', is the player judged to have been the most significant throughout the competition.
The Finals MVP award is given specifically to the players who impressed the most during the NBA Finals, as opposed to the regular season.
The award has been given since the 1969 Finals. It is judged by a panel of eleven, who examine the various players' overall contribution.
Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls has the record number of wins with six awards to his name. LeBron James is next on the list with four wins of the NBA Finals MVP. His fans will be hoping he will be in action this year looking to make it number five.
Other previous holders of the award include three-time winners Shaquille O'Neal, Magic Johnson, and Tim Duncan.
This year there are several names that fans will be well advised to look out for when it comes to the NBA Finals MVP.
With Jokic a strong favorite to claim the MVP award for the regular season, who's to say he can't repeat that feat in the Finals?
The Denver Nuggets center has been in tremendous form all year, and has cemented a place in the heart of the team's attack. Also vastly proficient in defense, Jokic's all-round game makes him one to look out for.
The big question on whether the big man can win a Finals MVP is whether the Nuggets will get there. They're currently priced at +3000 in the NBA finals odds, suggesting they're outsiders, so they'll be hoping Jokic's ongoing form will drag them to success.
Since they lost guard Jamal Murray to injury, Jokic has had to step up to take even more responsibility for the offense. The fact that he has done so in such style highlights his overall importance to the team.
Embiid will need to prove his fitness and shine for his team the Philadelphia 76ers if he is to go on to win the Finals MVP. With a strong case for earning the MVP in the regular season, the center has every chance of making the Finals.
As well as being key to a strong attack, Embiid can also point to the fact that he is vital to one of the best defenses in the NBA.
Offering a consistent and versatile approach to the 76ers game plan, Embiid looks to be almost the complete player.
No center has won the regular season MVP since Shaquille O'Neal won in 2000. With both Jokic and Embiid looking so strong that looks set to change. The fact that either or both could continue this potentially award-winning form into the Finals makes it a truly fascinating proposition.
Lillard is among the favorites for winning the regular season MVP. If he is to be in with a chance of taking the Finals award as well, he will need to steer his side the Portland Trail Blazers to the concluding stages.
If they are to progress from the Western Conference all eyes will be on Lillard to continue his game-winning form. Lillard certainly has the stats to back up his importance to the side.
Fans can argue that his average points showing of 28.4, and 7.6 assists, plus 4.2 rebounds during the season will carry the Trail Blazers to the Finals.
Once there, they will have a great chance to upset teams who have more backing.
Harden is well in the mix to take the NBA Finals MVP. The Brooklyn Nets star is integral to the team that is widely tipped to win the Finals. The most successful left-handed scorer in NBA history, Harden has every chance to do well at the end of the season.
His form this season has seen him have a tremendous impact on the fortunes of the Nets. Since trading from the Houston Rockets, Harden made an immediate impression on his new team.
His debut game saw him record 32 points, 14 assists, and 12 rebounds. This incredible first game meant he became the first player to score a 30-point triple-double in a debut.
The incredible form has gone on from there too. Harden adds strength, pace and the ability to score from anywhere to the Nets. When he is on the court, they genuinely look like world-beaters. It is no underestimation to conclude that they, and him, are among the favorite to win the top prizes.
Basketball fans can look forward to the Finals of another stunning NBA season. With so many MVP worthy players to look out for, it promises to be a dramatic competition.