The NBA officially tabbed Houston Rockets guard James Harden, Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James and New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis as the finalists for the 2017-18 Most Valuable Player Award on Wednesday evening.
The league also announced finalists for five other regular-season awards: Defensive Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, Coach of the Year and Most Improved Player.
The winners, who are voted on by a panel of select media members, will be revealed Monday, June 25, at the 2018 NBA Awards.
Here's a rundown of the players and coaches eligible to walk away with hardware when the festivities get underway from the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California.
2017-18 NBA Award Finalists
Most Valuable Player
Anthony Davis (NOP)
James Harden (HOU)
LeBron James (CLE)
Defensive Player of the Year
Anthony Davis (NOP)
Joel Embiid (PHI)
Rudy Gobert (UTA)
Rookie of the Year
Donovan Mitchell (UTA)
Ben Simmons (PHI)
Jayson Tatum (BOS)
Sixth Man of the Year
Eric Gordon (HOU)
Fred VanVleet (TOR)
Lou Williams (LAC)
Most Improved Player
Clint Capela (HOU)
Spencer Dinwiddie (BKN)
Victor Oladipo (IND)
Coach of the Year
Dwane Casey (TOR)
Quin Snyder (UTA)
Brad Stevens (BOS)
Race to Watch: Rookie of the Year
As sensational as Jayson Tatum was—and continues to be—for the Boston Celtics during his inaugural NBA season, this is a two-man race between Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ben Simmons and Utah Jazz shooting guard Donovan Mitchell.
First, the basics.
Simmons, 21, averaged 15.8 points, 8.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds during his first pro season. In doing so, he joined Oscar Robertson as one of the only two rookies in league history to log at least 15 points, eight boards and eight dimes a game throughout their debut campaigns.
Additionally, Simmons was the lone rookie this season to finish with at least nine win shares, according to Basketball Reference, as he helped lead the Sixers to a 52-win season and the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. The only other rookies who eclipsed five win shares were Tatum (7.1), Mitchell (5.2) and Atlanta Hawks power forward John Collins (5.4).
However, Mitchell was no slouch.
Following two seasons at Louisville, the No. 13 overall pick lit the NBA on fire to the tune of 20.5 points per game—a mark that led all rookies—while shooting 43.7 percent from the field and 34.0 percent from three.
Mitchell also received bonus points in some corners because he was considered a "true rookie." Whereas Simmons was able to get accustomed to life in the NBA throughout the 2016-17 season when he was sidelined with a broken foot, Mitchell joined the Jazz and instantly morphed into a star.
"I'll say this. I'll put it in perspective for people who obviously don't play in the NBA and don't know the life of the NBA," Mitchell told ESPN.com's Chris Haynes. "So, let's say you have an exam to take on June 1 and you have a whole year to study for that exam, you're going to get a pretty good grade on it, aren't you? But some people may not have all that time to prepare for that exam. So, that's how I look at it and I hope that puts it in perspective for people."
However, Simmons doesn't buy that line of reasoning as a strike against his sensational portfolio.
"Coming off a broken foot is definitely not an edge, but people are always going to say what they want to say," he told Haynes. "But at the end of the day, this is my first year in the league. If you're a guy coming from overseas, you're still a rookie and you can be 30 years old. So there's a rule in there."
2017-18 NBA Award Picks
MVP: James Harden (Houston Rockets)
Defensive Player of the Year: Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz)
Rookie of the Year: Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers)
Sixth Man of the Year: Lou Williams (Los Angeles Clippers)
Most Improved Player: Victor Oladipo (Indiana Pacers)
Coach of the Year: Brad Stevens (Boston Celtics)