Houston Rockets guard James Harden won the NBA MVP award Monday, beating Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James and New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis for the honor.

The MVP is the first for Harden, who finished second in voting to Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook in 2017.

Harden wins MVP after leading league in scoring

Harden led the league in scoring with 30.4 points per game while guiding the Rockets to the NBA’s best regular-season record. He also averaged 8.8 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 1.8 steals while hitting 36.7 percent of his 3-point shots for a team that set the NBA record for most 3-pointers made in a single season.

The Rockets lost a tough seven-game series to the eventual champion Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals, but were statistically one of the best offenses in NBA history with Harden as the lynchpin.

James denied fifth MVP honor

James, a four-time MVP, finished behind Harden after a remarkable season that saw the 15-year veteran play in all 82 regular season games for the first time in his career. James averaged 27.5 points, 9.1 assists, 8.4 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 0.9 blocks on a team that finished fourth in the Eastern Conference before eventually making the NBA Finals.

Davis was also a finalist for the award after leading the Pelicans to the Western Conference’s six seed and their first playoff appearance since 2015. Davis averaged 28.1 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.6 blocks, 1.5 steals and 2.3 assists and shone down the stretch after an Achilles injury knocked fellow All-Star DeMarcus Cousins out for the season. The Pelicans thrived despite the Cousins injury, a testament to Davis’ value.

James Harden
James Harden
Other NBA awards

Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ben Simmons won Rookie of the Year over Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell and Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum.

Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo won the NBA’s Most Improved Player honor over Houston Rockets center Clint Capela and Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie.

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert won Defensive Player of the Year honors over 76ers center Joel Embiid and New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis.

Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams won NBA Sixth Man honors, beating out Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet and Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon.

Former Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey beat out Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens and Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder for Coach of the Year honors.

The Raptors fired Casey after the Cleveland Cavaliers swept Toronto out of the playoffs despite the Raptors posting the best regular-season record in the Eastern Conference. Casey has since been hired to coach the Detroit Pistons.

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Jamal Crawford was honored as the NBA’s Teammate of the Year.

Source: Jason Owens