Last year the NBA witnessed a historic regular season performance by Russell Westbrook. He was the obviously MVP choice last year, and I believe that this year we have another obvious MVP. At the moment I’m writing this the Houston Rockets just lost ending their 17 game win streak, but it does not mean that it wasn’t an impressive feat either way. James Harden is a big reason behind that 17 game win streak, and he will win the MVP.
First things first let’s look at where James Harden stacks up against other players in the MVP race. According to NBA.com their are a handful of players behind James Harden in the running for MVP and that includes LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Demar Derozan, and Anthony Davis. Automatically I eliminate Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis. I just don’t feel like Anthony Davis has done enough at this point to really be considered for MVP. Without Demarcus Cousins he has carried the Pelicans but I don’t see him or them making enough noise in the playoffs for people to truly consider him an MVP contender. AD has had an excellent season so far, don’t get me wrong, but the biggest thing going against him is the fact that I don’t see the Pelicans getting past the first round of the playoffs without Cousins. If the playoffs started today the Pelicans would have to deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round. Also the Timberwolves are only a game behind the Thunder, so if not the Thunder than they would have to face the Timberwolves. Barring an insane performance, I don’t see the Pelicans getting past the first round of the playoffs.
Kevin Durant’s situation is different. I don’t think somebody on a stacked super star team should ever win MVP. It’s hard to believe that his stats are not inflated by the presence of Steph Curry, and Klay Thompson. Now hear me out. The same goes for Steph Curry and Klay Thompson; I just don’t think they should ever win MVP on a stacked team like theirs. It’s reasonable to believe that every now and then teams will pick their poison on who they want to lock down. That leaves at least one in that trio of players to not be guarded as well as others. Which leads to an unsurprisingly great game from that one player. Also you have your natural blow out wins which will come, and there is always the possibility of stat padding. People are very quickly to forgive Kevin Durant after winning the championship last year, but that does not change the fact that it’s still more of a cop out move than any decision LeBron has or ever will make to leave for another team. I just don’t believe that a player who gives up on an organization so easily for a proven unstoppable team should win MVP. The Thunder team Kevin Durant was on had three MVP caliber players on their team at one point with one of them being him. A real MVP would have been able to win at least one championship with that Thunder team. If I’m being perfectly honest LeBron would’ve been able to create a dynasty if he had players around him early on in his career like Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and Serge Ibaka. Kevin Durant only made it to one championship with that team, before calling it quits and leaving for Golden State. This is definitely a side note, but it’s surprising how quick people are willing to label Durant’s decision a “move that athletes should have the right to take” but forever and always label LeBron’s decision as a “cop out move”. Anyways, that’s my rant on why Kevin Durant should never be considered for MVP as long as he’s on the Warriors. It’s also worth noting Stephen Curry is in that MVP race and it should go without saying why he shouldn’t make it.
That leaves Demar Derozan and LeBron James as other legitimate contenders for MVP in my opinion. I won’t lie, I can easily see either of these players winning the award over James Harden. Demar Derozan just beat James Harden’s Houston Rockets breaking their win streak. I could easily make an argument about why Derozan deserves the MVP as well honestly, but I just don’t buy into the Raptors recent success. If he plays well come playoff time and brings his team to the finals, than I do think he deserves the MVP over James Harden. As of now though I have James Harden with a slight edge over Derozan. I don’t think LeBron will win MVP just because of the Cavs inconsistency, and the struggles they will go through from time to time. Don’t get me wrong, LeBron has been having one of his better seasons yet but I think the combination of Harden’s insane play and the correlation to the Rocket’s success gives Harden the edge once more.
In terms of stats James Harden’s stats definitely back his MVP bid. He is currently averaging 30.9 points, 8.9 assists, 5.2 rebounds, and 2 steals a game. Harden’s leading the league in points right now and it’s not even close. In terms of his assists he’s third only to Russell Westbrook and LeBron James. The numbers don’t lie, and the numbers are saying that James Harden is MVP. Although he currently is only averaging a career high in points and steals, he is still playing at a high level. As a side note he averaged almost 3 more assists and rebounds a game last year. If it wasn’t for the legendary play of Russell Westbrook than Harden would’ve won it last year.
At the time I’m writing this the Rockets have played 66 games this season winning 52 of them. It’s a record good enough for the Rockets to have held on to the number one seed in the tough Western Conference. Of course some wins can be attributed to the addition of Chris Paul, but Harden had to take over a good chunk of games when CP3 was hurt this season. Without a healthy Chris Paul all year the Rockets have one 51 games so far which is impressive. For perspective, last season the Rockets won 55 games which was good enough to get the third seed in the west. In the next 16 games I find it difficult to believe that the Rockets won’t win more than 4 games. Baring a serious injury to James Harden, Chris Paul, or both then the Rockets will for sure get past 55 games. In addition, the closest team to the Rockets in terms of wins (besides the Warriors) is the Trailblazers who are 12 games behind them. So that means (barring injury again) the Rockets should be able to secure the 2nd seed at the very least. They can still battle the Warriors for the first seed don’t get me wrong, but they’ve improved since last year for sure.
Lastly James Harden should be MVP because he’s shown that the Rockets can go deep in the playoffs. In two of the three games the Rockets have played the Warriors this season, the Rockets have come through beating the Warriors. This alone should say a lot about the consistency of the Rockets. In both games he has had at least 22 points and 8 assists in both of them. James Harden will always be the guy for the Houston Rockets as long as they will have him. He’s the obvious focus of their high powered offense, but combined with Chris Paul and a fantastic bench the Houston Rockets are looking the part of a contender. These wins against a team like the Warriors says more than some people will want to think. It shows that there is a team in the NBA that can take out the Warriors. Nonetheless in their own conference. Ironically if the playoffs started today the Rockets would have to face the 8th seeded Clippers. Of course a lot more can change in a couple games so their opponent in the first round can vary. Other possible teams they may face in the first round includes Spurs, Pelicans, Timberwolves, Thunder, Nuggets, and Jazz. It’s the Western conference so everyone knows it’s going to be an absolute gauntlet to maneuver through, but I believe this Rockets team can do it. James Harden will lead the Rockets through the playoffs this year, and I believe if he leads his team past the Warriors then it’ll erase any doubt left about who deserves the MVP award.