Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George are among the finalists for the both NBA’s Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year honors.
May 17, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) passes the ball under pressure from Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (43) and guard Danny Green (14) during the first quarter in game two of the Eastern conference finals of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
The league announced the three-man lists of finalists for its 2018-19 regular-season awards on Friday.
Antetokounmpo and George are joined by Houston Rockets guard James Harden in the running for league MVP. Harden was the MVP for the 2017-18 season, and he finished runner-up to Thunder guard Russell Westbrook in 2016-17.
Neither Antetokounmpo nor George has won an MVP award.
The third finalist for Defensive Player of the Year is Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, who won the honor last year.
The Rookie of the Year finalists are Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic, Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton and Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young.
The candidates for Coach of the Year are the Milwaukee Bucks’ Mike Budenholzer, the Denver Nuggets’ Michael Malone and the Los Angeles Clippers’ Doc Rivers. Budenholzer captured the award in 2014-15 when he was with the Atlanta Hawks.
Two Clippers players, forward Montrezl Harrell and guard Lou Williams, are up for Sixth Man Award, along with Indiana Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis. Williams earned the award in 2014-15 and 2017-18.
The finalists for Most Improved Player are Sacramento Kings guard De’Aaron Fox, Brooklyn Nets guard D’Angelo Russell and Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam. George was selected Most Improved in 2012-13, and Antetokounmpo was honored in 2016-17.
Antetokounmpo, 24, averaged 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists — all career highs — in 72 games this season.
George, 29, played 77 games and posted career-high averages of 28 points, 8.2 rebounds and a league-leading 2.2 steals. His average of 4.1 assists matched his career best.
Harden, 29, led the league with a career-best 36.1-point scoring average that topped the NBA. He added 6.6 rebounds, 7.5 assists and two steals while playing 78 games.
The voting for all awards was done by a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. The hardware will be handed out in a ceremony at Barker Hangar in Los Angeles on June 24.
—Field Level Media