NBA

Houston Rockets ace James Harden has clear-cut case for MVP of 2017-18 NBA season

Jay Asser 14/06/2018
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James Harden was the best player on the best regular-season team this season.

With the book closed on the 2017-18 NBA season, we’re making our picks for the individual end-of-year awards. Here’s how we see the MVP race shaking out.

Most Valuable Player

James Harden (Houston Rockets)

11 06 2018 NBA mvp-harden

After runner-up finishes in MVP voting two of the past three years, it finally appears as if Harden will get his shine in the spotlight after a stellar campaign.

His case is unassailable. Harden was the best player on the best team during the regular season and led the league in scoring with 30.4 points per game, while also averaging the fourth-most assists at 8.8.

No player utilised isolations more as he cleared out and attacked 10 times per game, scoring 1.22 points per possession. Even when he didn’t get a basket, he was a master at drawing fouls, getting to the free throw line for a league-leading 10.1 attempts per game.

And when help defenders would take a step or two in his direction, Harden would fire passes to Houston’s shooters on the perimeter to make the opposition pay.

He was the engine that made the Rockets’ deadly offence run and his value to the dominance was undeniable.

Harden isn’t the best player in the league, but if you define the MVP as an award given to the player who had the best season, no one else comes all that close to Houston’s dynamo.

WORTHY MENTIONS

LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers)

LeBron

LeBron could win the MVP every season and it would never feel like the wrong decision. But even though he’s the undisputed player in the world, it’s hard to reward James for a season in which his team wildly fluctuated and finished fourth in the Eastern Conference. That said, we should never take his gaudy production for granted – 27.5 points, 9.1 assists, 8.6 rebounds and 62.1 true shooting percentage.

Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans)

Anthony Davis

Davis made a charge for MVP after DeMarcus Cousins‘ suffered a season-ending injury at the end of January, going on a ridiculous run to average 35.0 points, 13.0 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 2.5 steals in February. He couldn’t keep up the breakneck pace, but Davis still finished with monster numbers as arguably the best two-player in the league this season.

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NBA

Gaafar ElSouri ramps up the force with plyo exercises to get back on court

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Road to recovery: Gaafar ElSouri

This week, we’ve been tracking the progress of injured basketball player Gaafar ElSouri on his road to recovery following career-threatening knee surgery.

Twelve months ago the Sudanese athlete found himself on the treatment table after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). What followed were months and months of recovery to get back into peak condition.

Not only did the injury rob ElSouri of his favourite sport, he also had to deal with the mental battle of getting back to full fitness. Before his injury his basketball career saw him play all around the world, in Europe, Southeast Asia and Canada. Keen to get back on the court, he set about rebuilding his fitness with a set of tailor-made exercise routines he put together himself.

Today’s video shows examples of plyometric exercises, which are compound movements that aim to generate maximum force as quickly as possible. The exercises are beneficial for challenging fast-twitch muscle fibres, coordination, agility and strength and endurance. Exercises include single leg step ups – a unilateral leg exercise which aims to improve symmetry and balance. It also increases lower body strength and develops leg power. Front box jumps – this exercise develops explosive power by improving the reach of fast-twitch muscle fibres throughout the body. Double scissor jumps – a workout exercise used to enhance hamstring and hip strength, overall lower body strength to develop explosive power and body control. The video clip also includes jump squat med balls slams and split stance med ball throws. It’s a compound exercise used to enhance reaction speed and explosiveness along with power and agility.

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NBA

Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers prepared to give Kevin Durant 'whatever he wants' in contract negotiations

Jay Asser 12/06/2018
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Kevin Durant can choose to hit free agency this summer.

Everyone hoping the Golden State Warriors dynasty breaks up this summer will likely have to wait a little longer, with the team and Kevin Durant appearing to be on the same page in regards to his immediate future.

After helping the Warriors repeat as champions with their third title in four years and winning Finals MVP in the process, Durant has been vocal about his desire to remain in Golden State.

Even though it will likely cost the franchise quite a bit of money to retain him, Warriors general manager Bob Myers expressed the orgranisation is prepared to give Durant “whatever he wants” in contract negotiations this summer.

“Sometimes you don’t negotiate. I’d love to have him for 10 years. Kevin Durant, look what he did for us last year. He did us a great service,” Myers said.

“He’s earned the right to sign whatever deal he wants. I just want him to sign a deal. But [I] want him to be happy and want him to know that we want him as long as he wants to be here. He’s earned that, to kind of lay out the terms.

“He can do whatever he wants. That shouldn’t be a long negotiation. Our goal, to be honest, is to try to keep the whole thing together, so that’s the pieces of the puzzle we’ve got to try to figure out.”

Last year, Durant agreed to a discounted two-year, $51.25 million deal instead of inking a max contract so Golden State could keep Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, while handing Stephen Curry the five-year max.

This summer, Durant could sign for as much as four years at around $160 million, which the Warriors are apparently more than happy to do to retain their championship core.

Golden State are slated to be in the luxury tax as it is, but signing Durant to the max would hamper their ability to fill out the rest of the roster even more.

The contracts of Nick Young, Zaza Pachulia, David West, JaVale McGee, Kevon Looney and Patrick McCaw will all come off the books, leaving the Warriors with plenty of decisions as to who to bring back and who to use their roster spots on.

If Durant opts for a max deal, his contract would align with Curry’s, running until 2022. Meanwhile, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are scheduled to hit free agency in the summer of 2019 and 2020, respectively, meaning Golden State will have to either get creative, or foot a historic tax bill to keep their core four together.

That could open the door for at least one of the foursome to leave in the coming years in order to maximise their financial earnings, but it doesn’t seem like that will be the case with Durant this summer.

Watch basketball player Gaafar ElSouri on his road back to fitness

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