Russell Westbrook won the 2017 NBA MVP award Monday night after becoming the first player in 55 years to average a triple-double for the entire season. The Oklahoma City Thunder point guard has a good chance to defend his crown in the 2017-2018 season, though he'll have plenty of competition.

After LeBron James and Kevin Durant went toe-to-toe in the 2017 NBA Finals, the best players on the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors are almost certain to be in the mix for the award. The same can be said for James Harden and Kawhi Leonard, who finished just behind Westbrook this year.

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Here’s a closer look at the top five candidates that will challenge Westbrook for the 2018 NBA MVP award.

LeBron James

James will be a leading candidate to win the MVP award every year until further notice. He’s been in the top four in voting for each of the past 10 seasons, and he showed in the playoffs why he remains the best basketball player on the planet without a shadow of a doubt. James might not get the award if another player has similar numbers since he’s already won it four times, but there’s no telling what No.23 can do after he had the best postseason of his life at 32 years old.

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant Golden State Warriors After being named the 2017 NBA Finals MVP at ORACLE Arena on June 12, 2017 in Oakland, California, Kevin Durant might win the 2018 NBA MVP award. Photo: Getty Images

Assuming he avoids another lengthy injury, Durant will be in the conversation for the award in 2018. He’s Golden State’s best player and should earn more votes than Stephen Curry, who became the only unanimous MVP in 2016. Durant played the best basketball of his career when he won the 2017 NBA Finals MVP award and playing on a team with three other All-Stars has helped him reach new heights.

Kawhi Leonard

Leonard morphed into a bonafide superstar this past season, adding an elite offensive game after winning consecutive Defensive Player of the Year awards. With the way his scoring and assists averages have steadily increased each season, Leonard could put up close to 30 points and more than five dimes per game in 2017-2018. With his efficiency from the field and his ability to guard the other team’s best player, that might be enough to get himself some new hardware next year.

James Harden

Finishing second in the voting in two of the last three years, Harden could finally get over the hump in 2018. He arguably should have beaten out Westbrook this year, leading his team to more wins while shooting much more efficiently from the field and dishing out more assists. There are rumors that the Houston Rockets will aggressively pursue another superstar in free agency, and a better record for the team might mean more votes for Harden.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo

Antetokounmpo is the dark horse candidate to win the award. He was named the league’s Most Improved Player for 2017, and he’ll be in the conversation for MVP if he continues to get better at the same rate. Putting up averages of 22.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.9 blocks and 1.6 steals per game on 52.1 percent shooting, Antetokounmpo put up career highs in every category while leading the Milwaukee Bucks across the board. At just 22 years old, he’s improving every day, and he’ll get his share of votes if the Bucks can make a leap and approach 50 wins.