Giannis Antetokounmpo came out on top in a matchup between the NBA’s two MVP frontrunners on Wednesday night, as his 27 points and career-best 21 rebounds helped the Bucks pick up a 116-109 road win in Houston. James Harden continued his recent hot streak for the Rockets by racking up 42 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists, but required 30 shots to get those 42 points, and turned the ball over nine times.
As Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com relays, Antetokounmpo dismissed talk after the game about him being the league’s best or most valuable player so far in 2018/19. At the season’s midway point though, Giannis, who has led Milwaukee to an NBA-best 29-11 record, has a strong case to at least be informally named the league’s first-half MVP.
Before last night’s Bucks/Rockets showdown, Sean Deveney of The Sporting News handed out his midseason awards and gave the edge to Harden over Antetokounmpo for MVP, with Kawhi Leonard, Nikola Jokic, Paul George, and others also receiving some consideration. Tom Haberstroh of NBC Sports made the same pick today, making his case for Harden as the first-half MVP.
Elsewhere on their midseason awards ballots, Deveney and Haberstroh mixed in some easy calls – they both had Mavericks youngster Luka Doncic for Rookie of the Year – with some tougher ones. For instance, Deveney named Mike Budenholzer (Bucks) his Coach of the Year in a crowded field of contenders, while Haberstroh picked Dave Joerger (Kings).
Deveney’s and Haberstorh’s other selections included Domantas Sabonis (Pacers) for Sixth Man of the Year and Paul George (Thunder) for Defensive Player of the Year. The duo diverged on Most Improved Player, with Deveney choosing Pascal Siakam (Raptors) while Haberstroh opted for De’Aaron Fox (Kings).
With the season essentially halfway done – teams have played between 39 and 43 games – we want to know how you’d fill out your hypothetical awards ballot for the first half. Do you agree with most of Deveney’s and/or Haberstroh’s picks or would you go in a different direction for some of them? Are you making any dark-horse picks for any of this season’s awards so far?
Weigh in below in the comment section with your midseason award selections!