LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Houston star James Harden was crowned the NBA’s Most Valuable Player for 2018 on Monday, taking home the honour despite a disappointing end to the season which saw the Rockets beaten in the NBA Finals.
The 28-year-old Rockets guard beat out competition from Cleveland Cavaliers icon LeBron James and the New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis.
Harden’s award came after a season which saw him average more than 30 points per game, with 5.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists.
Although Houston finished the regular season on top of the Western Conference, they were beaten 4-3 in the playoffs by the Golden State Warriors.
The Warriors would go on to beat Cleveland 4-0 in the finals.
Although the Warriors clinched the title, they were largely ignored in the main end-of-season awards categories at Monday’s ceremony.
Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons was named Rookie of the Year ahead of Utah’s Donovan Mitchell and Boston’s Jayson Tatum.
Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz won Defensive Player of the Year, edging out New Orleans’ Davis and the Sixers Joel Embiid.
Meanwhile Coach of the Year honours went to Dwane Casey, who was fired by the Toronto Raptors after they were swept by Cleveland in the second round of the playoffs.
Casey’s honour came despite a successful regular season which saw the Raptors finish with a franchise-record 59 wins.
Widely admired across the league, Casey was snapped up by Detroit Pistons, roughly one month after being sacked by Toronto.
“When you get fired, you always doubt yourself a little bit, you think ‘Okay, can I do this? Do I want to do this again?” Casey said.