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2019 PBT Awards: Most Valuable Player

Houston Rockets v Milwaukee Bucks

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MARCH 26: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks is defended by James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets during the second half of a game at Fiserv Forum on March 26, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

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Kurt Helin

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

2. James Harden, Rockets

3. Paul George, Thunder

4. Kevin Durant, Warriors

5. Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers

It’s incredibly close between Antetokounmpo and Harden. I eventually leaned toward the Greek Freak because while Rockets’ system is built around Harden and he has to be otherworldly for them to be a contender — and he did that for much of the year — the Bucks’ system is similarly built around Antetokounmpo and his inability to be stopped one-on-one (they just surround him with shooters). Combine that with Antetokounmpo’s superior defense and he just slightly ahead in one of the hardest decisions to make.

Dan Feldman

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

2. James Harden, Rockets

3. Paul George, Thunder

4. Stephen Curry, Warriors

5. Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers

In some ways, MVP is a product of circumstance. I choose MVP based on which player contributes the most during the regular season. Even among the NBA’s top players, some have more opportunities to produce than others – and therefore an advantage for my MVP pick.

James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo both had huge opportunities to produce this season – but for very different reasons. The Bucks built their offense and defense around Antetokounmpo’s incredible talent. The Rockets, because of injuries and depth issues, needed Harden to completely carry them for a while.

Both players delivered, and I went back and forth on my pick several times. This race was even tighter than Russell Westbrook-Harden a couple years ago.

Ultimately, Antetokounmpo’s defense put him over the top. He’s close enough to Harden offensively that the massive gap on the other end made the difference. That this was so close is a tribute to Harden’s historically great offensive season.

Not much separated Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard and Kevin Durant. Nikola Jokic also drew strong consideration.

Dane Delgado

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

2. James Harden, Rockets

3. Paul George, Thunder

4. Stephen Curry, Warriors

5. Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers

Antetokounmpo is this season’s MVP. That’s because the MVP is not an award based strictly in numbers, no matter how much the fans or front office in Houston wish it were. The MVP is about narrative, and the narrative of Antetokounmpo rising from a wiry young prospect to the league’s best two-way player is the most compelling one at hand. Harden may be having a historical offense of season, but the narrative around him is that he’s still an absolute chore to watch play basketball. If anything, George is a more complete, interesting watch and he could have taken the second spot save for Harden’s unparalleled efficiency. James Harden may be a mathematically perfect basketball player on offense, but god help you if you like watching him outside of a highlight package.