Harden, James, Anthony Davis named MVP finalists

Houston Rockets guard James Harden, Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James and New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis were named finalists for the NBA's Most Valuable Player award, the league announced Wednesday.

The winner will be announced during the awards show on June 25, four days after the NBA draft.

Harden, who finished second in last year's voting behind Russell Westbrook, and Davis are looking to win the award for the first time. Harden also finished second in 2014-15 behind Stephen Curry, three spots ahead of Davis.

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Harden, 28, averaged a career-high and league-leading 30.4 points per game. He also contributed 8.8 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game while leading Houston to the league's best record.

Davis, 25, averaged a career-high 28.1 points, 11.1 boards and 2.6 blocks, along with a personal-best 2.3 assists per game.

At 33, James would be the oldest player to win the award since a 35-year-old Karl Malone did so in 1998-99. Only one player in his 30s has won the award since then: Steve Nash did so at 30 and 31.

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A four-time winner of the award ('08-09, '09-10, '11-12, '12-13), James will finish in the top five of MVP voting for the 13th consecutive season. He has finished second twice and third three times in that span, and he finished fourth last season. He finished the regular season with averages of 27.5 points, 9.1 assists and 8.6 rebounds per game, with the latter two figures equaling or exceeding career highs.

Davis was also named a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year, alongside Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert and Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid. Gobert finished second last year to Draymond Green.

The Sixers and Jazz also have representatives in the Rookie of the Year race, guards Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell, respectively. Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum is the third finalist in that category.

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Dwane Casey, who was voted as the league's coach of the year by his peers before being fired by the Toronto Raptors last week, was named a finalist for the official award voted on by sportswriters and broadcasters. He is joined by Utah's Quin Snyder and Boston's Brad Stevens.

Rockets guard Eric Gordon, Raptors guard Fred VanVleet and Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams are finalists for Sixth Man of the Year, which Gordon won last year as Williams finished third. Williams won the award in 2014-15.

Houston's Clint Capela, the Brooklyn Nets' Spencer Dinwiddie and the Indiana Pacers' Victor Oladipo are finalists for Most Improved Player.

--Field Level Media