Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey believes James Harden is a better scoring than NBA and Chicago Bulls great Michael Jordan.

Harden is fresh off the best offensive season of his career after averaging 36.1 point and 7.5 assists in 78 appearances for a Rockets team who were dependent on his ability to draw fouls and crafty shot making.

The 2017-18 MVP led the NBA in scoring last season and tallied the league's highest points per game average since Jordan averaged 37.1 points during the 1986-87 season.

Most basketball fans agree that Jordan is the greatest of all time, but Morey would argue Harden has a leg up on the sport's most iconic player in one area.

"It's just factual that James Harden is a better scorer than Michael Jordan," Morey said on the 'Selfmade with Nadeshot' podcast.

Morey is the creator of Houston's analytics-based offensive system known as "Moreyball" and says statistics make him ranking Harden above Jordan logical.

"Based on literally, like you give James Harden the ball and before you're giving up the ball how many points do you generate? Which is how you should measure offense. James Harden is by far number one in NBA history," Morey said.

Harden has been an All-Star in each of his seven seasons with the Rockets, has led the league in possessions per game for the last three campaigns and has won the last two scoring titles. 

The argument for Jordan being the better offensive player stems from the fact that basketball has evolved. The game is faster, players shoot more and scoring is up. But Morey is holding onto his beliefs.

"The counterargument is reasonable," Morey said. "They say if you put Michael Jordan on a team now he would do more than James Harden. That's possible. But if you're just saying: 'NBA history, if you give this guy the ball, how much does his team score after you give him the ball before the other team gets the ball?' It's James Harden. And I know that makes people mad, but it's literally a fact."

The Rockets have had plenty of success in the regular season with Harden as the centrepiece but have yet to reach the NBA Finals during his time in Houston.

But the Rockets shipped off Chris Paul and an assortment of future draft picks to bring in the 2016-17 MVP in Russell Westbrook.

The Rockets have two elite, high-usage guards on their team, and Morey believes Harden alongside a triple-double machine like Westbrook can get Houston over the hump.

Russell Westbrook acknowledged the need for "sacrifice" as he and James Harden try to lead the Houston Rockets to an NBA championship.

Westbrook was acquired by the Rockets in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder earlier this month, which included future draft picks, pick swaps and Chris Paul leaving Houston.

The 2017 MVP, Westbrook averaged a triple-double for the third consecutive season in 2018-19, but he admits the path to success with a new team might require a different approach. Especially playing alongside his long-time friend and former Thunder team-mate Harden, who was the league's most valuable player in 2018.

Speaking during his introductory news conference on Friday, Westbrook told reporters: "Me and James have been friends for many, many years, since I was 10 actually.

"To be able to win something, you have to be able to sacrifice some parts of your game and we both understand that," Westbrook continued. "We both understand that we have one common goal and that's to win a championship.

"I don't have to touch the ball to impact the game... I can do other things on the floor to make sure we have a better chance of winning."

Westbrook and Harden both like to have the ball a lot. The duo are the only players in NBA history to exceed 40.0 in usage percentage, and now they will have to share a backcourt. They last played together in 2012-13, before Harden was traded to the Rockets.

Since then, both have been named MVP. Regardless, Westbrook is confident the two will can work well together in Houston.

"We play great off the ball with each other. We've done it in OKC," Westbrook said.

Westbrook elaborated on what else he brings to the table, besides orchestrating an offense.

"I think I can be able to help a lot on the rebounding end and switching and finding a way to get into the passing lanes," the 30-year-old added. "Maybe throw a few lobs to James if he's still got it. Figuring out a way to be able to just impact and use my athleticism."

He also addressed his health, as he underwent a procedure on his right knee in May.

"I'll be ready to go by training camp," Westbrook said. "I'm doing great. Taking my time. Resting as much as I can, because we're gon' go after it at the start of the season and I'll be ready to go."

All in all, Westbrook appears like he's prepared for the next chapter.

"I think it's a great opportunity to be able to bring a championship here to Houston," he said. "An opportunity to do great things, have some fun and I'm excited for it."

James Harden insists there is no bad blood between him and Chris Paul.

The Houston Rockets star was rumoured to have had enough of Paul following their second-round playoff exit at the hands of the Golden State Warriors in May.

Some reports stated Harden would not answer Paul's phone calls after last season and claimed the duo's relationship was "unsalvageable."

Paul has since been traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, with Russell Westbrook coming the other way in a blockbuster deal.

However, Harden told reporters on Saturday that speculation of friction between him and Paul was not accurate.

"It was a lot of false talk," Harden said. "Obviously as team-mates, as competitors we argue on the court. You have your disagreements on the court. Your arguments on the court. But that's just part of basketball. Everybody has that. No matter what level of basketball you're in.

"All the negative media stuff and all the stuff that was running, it wasn't true. Me and Chris had constant communication and you know, we're good."

With Paul now out of the picture, Harden is set for a reunion with Westbrook, who he played alongside in Oklahoma City from 2009-12 before being traded to the Rockets.

Harden led the NBA in scoring with 36.1 points per game while Westbrook averaged a triple-double for a third straight year in 2018-19.

"I'm excited for this opportunity," Harden said. "It's a new chapter, but I know he's [Westbrook] excited."

 

James Harden says he will not need to make any changes for new team-mate Russell Westbrook when the pair are reunited at the Houston Rockets.

The Rockets completed a blockbuster trade for Westbrook this week, giving the Rockets two of the last three NBA MVPs on their roster.

Harden played with the new arrival at the Oklahoma City Thunder between 2009 and 2012 and is already confident about how their rekindled partnership will work out in a loaded Western Conference.

So much so, he insists nothing will need to change in his game to make the Rockets successful after Westbrook's move.

"None. None. None," he told reporters at an Adidas and James Harden ProCamp event when asked what adjustments would be needed.

"We played with each other in the NBA and the Olympics and all that. When you have talent like that, it works itself out. You communicate. You go out there and compete possession by possession. 

"You figure things out throughout the course of the season. That's just what it is. When you have talent, you have guys with IQ, you have guys willing to sacrifice, it always works itself out.

"It's that trust factor. I trust him; he trusts me. With the group that we already have and the things we already accomplished, it should be an easy transition for him to be incorporated right in, and things are going to go."

Chris Paul, whose relationship with Harden reportedly soured last season, two protected first-round draft selections and two pick swaps were sent to the Thunder to secure Westbrook's arrival.

"I'm excited for this opportunity," added Harden. "It's a new chapter, but I know he's excited. 

"He's been in Oklahoma City for 11 years so it's a new chapter for him. We welcome him with open arms. It's going to work.

"That's my boy right there, since I was like 10 or 11 years old. Obviously, we were team-mates for years. Now, we're at different stages of our careers. I hear a lot of negative things, 'You can't, he can't, they can't'. But we'll figure it out."

The Rockets lost out in six games to the Golden State Warriors in the second round of the playoffs last season, having gone 53-29 to claim the fourth seed in the West.

James Harden has joined MLS club Houston Dynamo's ownership group.

The Dynamo announced on Thursday that the Houston Rockets superstar had become part of the group led by Gabriel Brener, also owners of the NWSL's Houston Dash.

Harden, arguably the face of Houston sports and winner of the NBA MVP award in 2018, joins six-weight world champion Oscar De La Hoya in the group.

"I'm very excited about the opportunity to join the ownership group of the Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash and proud to be a part of a club with tremendous history and a great future," Harden said in a statement.

"Houston is my home now, and I saw this as a way to invest in my city and expand my business interests at the same time. Soccer in general, and especially MLS, have exploded in this country throughout my lifetime.

"I've been a fan of the game for several years, and I know that Houston has a massive soccer fanbase, so it was an easy decision for me when this opportunity arose."

"We are thrilled to welcome James into our club. He's an icon in the Houston community, and not only is he a great basketball player, he has an extremely smart and savvy mind for business," Brener said.

"James will bring a very unique perspective to our ownership group, and I'm looking forward to hearing his thoughts and opinions on the club going forward."

James Harden and Russell Westbrook will "make it work" at the Houston Rockets, insisted head coach Mike D'Antoni.

The Rockets acquired Westbrook in a blockbuster trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder, reuniting the 2017 NBA MVP with Harden.

Harden and Westbrook like to control the ball but D'Antoni is confident the latter will fit into Houston's line-up without any drastic changes to accommodate the All-Stars.

"We're not changing much," D'Antoni said on the The Woj Pod while discussing the addition of Westbrook. "We'll tweak it, but to say you've gotta change and you can't win that way, that's B.S."

Some critics believe the Rockets do not spread the ball around enough and play too much isolation.

Now, some are questioning whether it will be even more challenging to play that type of offense with both Harden and Westbrook, who are two ball-dominant players, on the court.

D'Antoni, however, does not think it will be a problem because the two want to play together, and they previously teamed up in Oklahoma City.

"They’ll make it work," D'Antoni said. "Do we sometimes go too much one-on-one? Yeah. Do we sometimes iso or not move enough? Yeah, we do sometimes. But I can also make the argument that sometimes teams over-pass. You try to find the balance of what is best for your players."

D'Antoni explained the Rockets will find what works best for both players to maximise their talents.

"I will start looking now at tape and trying to figure out the dynamics between the two and how they played in Oklahoma City and how it's changed since then, in the Olympics," D'Antoni said.

"But it's exciting. Whenever you have great talent, it's exciting because it gives you a chance to win, and that's what we all want to do. But it'll be my job to maximise their talents and what they do best, and it should be really good.

"I saw it in USA Basketball. You put [the stars] all together and they want to make it work, it doesn't matter. The more talent you have, the better it is. And I think right now with this duo and other people, it'll work. Now, to what degree, we'll see."

Rockets star James Harden expects to have "a lot of fun" alongside Russell Westbrook in Houston.

The Rockets acquired the 2017 NBA MVP from the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday in exchange for Chris Paul, protected first-round draft picks in 2024 and 2026, and the rights to swap picks in two other drafts.

Harden, who played his first three NBA seasons in Oklahoma City with Westbrook, is pleased to be reunited with his old team-mate.

"When I left OKC I was sad," Harden said on Friday, via The Athletic.

"Then Houston made a home for me. Rockets is my home. And now an opportunity came available where Russ wasn't happy. Now we're back. It's going to be a lot of fun this year, I guarantee you that."

According to the Houston Chronicle, Harden and Westbrook "strongly favoured the move and a chance to play in a backcourt together".

Now, it is up to head coach Mike D'Antoni to build the offense around the two NBA MVPs, an award Harden won in 2018.

The NBA world was shocked again on Thursday as the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder reportedly completed a blockbuster trade involving Russell Westbrook.

According to ESPN, the Rockets sent Chris Paul and draft picks to the Thunder in exchange for 2017 NBA MVP Westbrook.

This is a huge deal for the Western Conference as Houston boasts a similar team to what they had last season but became younger and more athletic in the process.

Rockets fans can dream about the potential of this tandem, however it is not an idea that is foreign. In fact, we have seen this combination before as Harden and Westbrook were drafted by the Thunder and played together from 2009-12 and made an NBA Finals alongside Kevin Durant in their last season together.

So, what did those teams look like in Oklahoma City? They looked great, we will tell you that.

With Westbrook, the Thunder had a high-energy point guard who was unstoppable going to the rim and a terror on defense. With Durant, Oklahoma City had the player who could get any shot he wanted and presented a mismatch every time he was on the court. Harden was the sixth man for that team as he provided a solid scoring option and a better defender than people may remember (he was given the job of guarding LeBron James in the 2012 NBA Finals for long stretches).

On March 23, 2012 – the three combined to score 110 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Harden and Westbrook totalled 70.

As good as they were as a team, though, a lot of people did not take them seriously. That was until they dominated the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. After losing the first two games, they came back to win the last four by an average of nearly 10 points (9.75).

In that series, the big three dominated as Westbrook averaged 18.1 points, 7.3 assists and 5.8 rebounds, Harden put up 18.5, 5.5 and 3.6 while Durant added 29.5, 5.3 and 7.5. This was the team to beat for years to come.

They wound up losing to the Miami Heat in the Finals in five games, but they won the opener, and had it not been for a missed foul call in the waning moments of Game 2, the Thunder might have taken a 2-0 series lead and then, who knows?

This team was the Golden State Warriors before the Warriors and Harden and Westbrook were huge parts of that. It looked like it was going to be a dynasty for years to come in the west, but that was until Harden was due for an extension and more money.

Ultimately, the Thunder did not pay Harden and he was dealt to Houston along with Daequan Cook, Cole Aldrich and Lazar Hayward in exchange for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first-round picks (which became Steven Adams in 2013 and Mitch McGary in 2014), and a second-round pick (which became Alex Abrines in 2013).

Harden then went on to win an MVP with Houston in 2018, Westbrook won it with the Thunder in 2017 and Durant earned the honour in 2014. Now, two of those players are back together. Durant is the only one to have a title (he won two with the Warriors), but Westbrook and Harden can see if they can get one they so highly covet.

The Houston Rockets have acquired star guard Russell Westbrook from the Oklahoma City Thunder, according to reports.

In an ESPN report, the Rockets have sent Chris Paul and first-round picks in 2024 and 2026 for the 2017 NBA MVP.

The teams have also swapped picks in 2021 and 2025 as Westbrook reunites with former Thunder team-mate and 2018 MVP James Harden.

After Paul George left the Thunder for the Los Angeles Clippers, eight-time All-Star Westbrook wanted to be sent to the Rockets.

Westbrook and Harden played together in Oklahoma City from 2009 to 2012 – the pair helping the Thunder reach the 2012 NBA Finals.

Last season, Westbrook averaged 22.9 points, 10.7 assists and 11.1 rebounds as the Thunder advanced to the playoffs before falling to the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round.

The NBA is going to look quite different in 2019-20.

After leading the Toronto Raptors to their first title, Kawhi Leonard will reportedly team up with Paul George at the Los Angeles Clippers next season.

It is a move that will reignite the rivalry with a much-changed Los Angeles Lakers, while the Golden State Warriors have seen Kevin Durant jump ship and move to the Eastern Conference.

We look at the teams with a 'big two' following a series of movements in an incredible offseason.

 

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS

It was a big surprise when the Clippers took defending champions the Warriors to Game 6 in the playoffs, but they will undoubtedly be a better team next season.

The additions of Leonard and six-time All-Star George – although the latter came at a high price that included sending Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and five first-round draft picks, four of which are unprotected, and two pick swaps to the Oklahoma City Thunder – have created a new force in the Western Conference that will be looking to contend straight away.

LOS ANGELES LAKERS

Despite finally pulling off the acquisition of Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, the Lakers freed up enough cap space for a run at Leonard.

However, they were unable to seal a deal with the NBA Finals MVP and will instead look to improve on LeBron James' disappointing first season by forming a truly formidable duo with Davis.

BROOKLYN NETS

Durant ruptured his Achilles in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, but it did not lead to a reduction in interest in the Warriors star.

The 2014 MVP decided to end his time at Golden State and team up with Kyrie Irving at the Brooklyn Nets, who consequently captured two of the three biggest free agents on the market to step up their rebuild several notches.

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

It looked as though the Warriors would dominate again when they signed DeMarcus Cousins to a one-year deal in the last offseason, despite the center being sidelined by an Achilles injury.

Cousins has not returned and with Durant out the door, Golden State will be relying on the backcourt tandem of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson – reportedly on a five-year max contract – though trading for D'Angelo Russell could lighten the load.

HOUSTON ROCKETS

Having lost out to the Miami Heat in their reported pursuit of Jimmy Butler, the Rockets will go again with James Harden and Chris Paul leading the charge.

General manager Daryl Morey rejected reports of a rift between Harden and Paul, though he will be keen for the team to start winning as early as possible following a sluggish start in 2018-19.

PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS

The Blazers made a stunning run to the Western Conference Finals before being swept by the Warriors.

They will hope to go one better after tying Damian Lillard down to a four-year contract extension in the offseason, ensuring his partnership with fellow sharpshooter CJ McCollum will continue.

It seems incredible now that Stephen Curry could have been the seventh pick in any NBA Draft, but that was the case in 2009.

Ten years on, Curry is a two-time MVP and three-time champion with the Golden State Warriors.

But on draft night, there were six players picked before him - with the Minnesota Timberwolves somehow selecting two alternative point guards ahead of Curry.

Such decisions now look foolish as we look at the mixed bag that is the top six picks of the 2009 NBA Draft.

 

1. Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers)

Griffin may not have lived up to Curry's standards, but he has still enjoyed a strong NBA career that might have been even better had not missed his entire debut season with the Clippers with a knee injury. The power forward returned to be named Rookie of the Year and has since made five All-NBA teams, continuing to star with the Detroit Pistons since a trade last year.

2. Hasheem Thabeet (Memphis Grizzlies)

This one definitely did not work out. Center Thabeet was selected by the Grizzlies but failed to impress, leading to a switch to the D-League before he was traded to the Houston Rockets. Further stints followed with the Portland Trail Blazers and Oklahoma City Thunder, before he was waived by the Philadelphia 76ers and the Pistons. He has not played in the NBA since 2013-14.

 

3. James Harden (Oklahoma City Thunder)

Harden enjoyed a solid spell as the Thunder's sixth man, before his career took off in Houston. The 29-year-old could now be considered one of the game's modern greats, winning the 2018 MVP award and making five All-NBA First Teams while turning the Rockets into genuine contenders in the West. There have been some mighty tussles with Curry in the past 10 years.

4. Tyreke Evans (Sacramento Kings)

It was Evans who earned the 2009-10 Rookie of the Year award, leading the draft class, but the Kings star failed to build on this excellent first season. Instead, he bounced around the league until last month when the NBA dismissed him for violating its anti-drug programme. Evans will not be able to apply for reinstatement until 2021.

5. Ricky Rubio (Minnesota Timberwolves)

Rubio was not blessed with Curry's shooting talent, but he was considered a reasonable enough selection for the Timberwolves at number five. However, the pick quickly became far from straightforward, with the Spaniard remaining in Europe for a two-year stay with Barcelona before finally joining Minnesota. His NBA career has never really subsequently taken off.

6. Jonny Flynn (Minnesota Timberwolves)

Selecting two point guards in succession was one thing, Selecting two point guards and leaving Curry on the board was quite another. How the Timberwolves must now rue this decision. Flynn was in the D-League by 2010, starting just 10 NBA matches after his debut season. He left the NBA in 2012 and has not returned. Oh dear.

James Harden did not win his second NBA MVP award but he still joined an exclusive group on Monday.

The Houston Rockets star lost out to the Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo, making this the third time he finished runner-up in the most valuable player voting.

Chicago Bulls icon Michael Jordan (1987, 1989 and 1997), Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James (2006, 2014 and 2018) and Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant (2010, 2012 and 2013) have also finished second on three occasions.

Larry Bird finished as an MVP runner-up four times in 1981, 1982, 1983 and 1988. Jerry West was also a second-place finisher four times, but he played before the NBA/ABA merger in 1976. 

Harden entered 2018-19 as the reigning MVP and he arguably improved upon last season's impressive run. The Rockets guard led the league in scoring for a second consecutive year, averaging a staggering 36.1 points per game. He also put together an incredible run in which he scored 30 points or more in 32 consecutive games.

Antetokounmpo, however, made history in his own right.

The Greek sensation was historically good as a finisher at the rim and became the first player in NBA history to average at least 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game. He led Milwaukee to a league-best 60-22 record at the age of 24 and is one of the youngest ever to be named MVP in the modern era.

 

The 2019 NBA awards took place on Monday, and some of the biggest names in sports were honoured.

Current NBA players, basketball legends and others received recognition for their efforts on and off the court.

Here are three takeaways from the 2019 NBA Awards:

 

There were no real surprises

Monday's events went like most people expected them to.

The players that were supposed to win did just that, so there were not any shocking reactions.

The best the NBA had to offer were simply dominant in their respective categories. 

 

TNT tried to mix things up

Shaquille O'Neal hosted the NBA awards and TNT made it a point to use his larger-than-life personality to amp up the crowd.

The 7-1 Hall of Famer and Los Angeles Lakers icon, actor and analyst danced, sang and was even replaced by an imposter for a few minutes. It was interesting to say the least.

The coverage probably lasted a little bit too long, but at least there was an effort to make it entertaining.

 

Giannis was emotional for first MVP

Giannis Antetokounmpo clearly appreciated winning such a prestigious award. He broke into tears while delivering his acceptance speech.

The Milwaukee Bucks star entered the league as a raw, lanky teen as the 15th overall pick in 2013. In just six seasons, he developed his skills and became the MVP.

Antetokounmpo is now part of an elite group.

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo and his MVP success headlined the NBA awards.

Antetokounmpo capped a stellar season to be crowned the league's most valuable player.

The 24-year-old averaged 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists this season. He shot 57.8 per cent from the field and added 1.5 blocks per game.

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic was named the Rookie of the Year, while Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam secured Most Improved Player.

Here is a complete list of the 2019 NBA award finalists and winners:

 

Most Valuable Player

Winner: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)

Other finalists: Paul George (Oklahoma City Thunder), James Harden (Houston Rockets)

Rookie of the Year

Winner: Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks)

Other finalists: Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns), Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks)

Coach of the Year

Winner: Mike Budenholzer (Milwaukee Bucks)

Other finalists: Michael Malone (Denver Nuggets), Doc Rivers (Los Angeles Clippers)

Sixth Man Award

Winner: Lou Williams (Los Angeles Clippers)

Other finalists: Montrezl Harrell (Los Angeles Clippers), Domantas Sabonis (Indiana Pacers) 

Defensive Player of the Year

Winner: Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz)

Other finalists: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks), Paul George (Oklahoma City Thunder)

Most Improved Player

Winner: Pascal Siakam (Toronto Raptors)

Other finalists: De'Aaron Fox (Sacramento Kings), D'Angelo Russell (Brooklyn Nets)

NBA Cares Community Assist Award

Winner: Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards)

Other finalists: Jarrett Allen (Brooklyn Nets) Mike Conley (Memphis Grizzlies), Tobias Harris (Philadelphia 76ers), LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers), Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers), Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks), Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz), Dwight Powell (Dallas Mavericks), Pascal Siakam (Toronto Raptors)

Twyman-Stokes Team-mate of the Year Award

Winner: Mike Conley (Memphis Grizzlies)

Other finalists: Steven Adams (Oklahoma City Thunder), Jared Dudley (Brooklyn Nets), Channing Frye (Cleveland Cavaliers), Rudy Gay (San Antonio Spurs), Udonis Haslem (Miami Heat), Andre Iguodala (Golden State Warriors), Kyle Korver (Utah Jazz), Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks), JJ Redick (Philadelphia 76ers), Garrett Temple (Los Angeles Clippers), Thaddeus Young (Indiana Pacers)

Sportsmanship Award

Winner: Mike Conley (Memphis Grizzlies)

Other finalists: Steven Adams (Oklahoma City Thunder), Harrison Barnes (Sacramento Kings), Al Horford (Boston Celtics), Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks), Kemba Walker (Charlotte Hornets)

Lifetime Achievement Award

Winners: Larry Bird, Magic Johnson

Sager Strong Award

Winner: Robin Roberts

Hustle Award

Winner: Marcus Smart (Boston Celtics)

Moment of the Year

Winner: Derrick Rose's 50-point game against the Utah Jazz.

Executive of the Year

Winner: Jon Horst (Milwaukee Bucks)

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo has been named the 2018-19 NBA Most Valuable Player.

Antetokounmpo took home his first MVP during Monday's ceremony at Barker Hangar in Los Angeles.

After a run to the Eastern Conference Finals in his sixth campaign with the Bucks, Antetokounmpo beat last season's MVP James Harden and Oklahoma City Thunder star Paul George to the honour.

The 24-year-old Greek sensation became the youngest MVP since Derrick Rose in 2010-11 and first Bucks player since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1973-74 to win the award.

Antetokounmpo made a strong case for himself when he helped Milwaukee to the NBA's best record at 60-22.

His efforts — 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game — were enough to beat out Houston Rockets star Harden for the hardware.

Harden, who has now been an MVP runner up three times in his career, averaged a league-high 36.1 points per game for the second-most in one season in modern NBA history — behind only Michael Jordan, who averaged 37.1 in 1986-87.

The Bucks were eliminated from the playoffs when they fell to eventual champions the Toronto Raptors in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

"We'll be back stronger and better," Antetokounmpo wrote on Instagram after the loss. "Milwaukee thank you for supporting my teammates and I this entire season we couldn't have done it without you all!"

Antetokounmpo was unanimously selected to the All-NBA and All-Defensive first team.

 

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