.As the NBA season comes to a close many believe that James Harden is the obvious MVP, but how can we be so sure?
Harden or Westbrook for MVP?
This season James Harden is putting up 31 points per game, nearly 9 assist per game along with 5.2 rebounds per game. Harden, alongside the help of new teammate Chris Paul, has elevated the Rockets to the 1 seed in the West. In the 2016-2017 James Harden averaged 29 points per game, over 11 assist per game, and grabbed 8 rebound a night. The Rockets finished the 2016-2017 season with a 55-27 record. This had them as a 3 seed entering the playoffs, but Harden’s efforts did not earn him the MVP award.
Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder won the award to nobody’s surprise. Although the Thunder finished the season 47-35, Westbrook averaged 31.6 points per game, along with 10.4 assist and 10.7 rebounds per game. Harden had more wins, but Westbrook still edged out Harden for the MVP award. This year Westbrook is averaging 25.5 points per game, 10.2 assist and 9.7 rebounds per game. Harden has the advantage in points, but Westbrook has the edge in rebounds and assist, so why is Harden such an obvious choice?
Are We Giving Harden Too Much Credit?
Harden had two amazing seasons in 2015-2016 and 2016-2017. He was beat out of the MVP award once because the voters favor wins. He was beat out a second time because the voters were more amazed by 42 triple-doubles. The voters selected the right MVP both years, but could they be wrong by selecting James Harden this season?
Chris Paul is obviously the X factor that has taken the Rockets to new heights. He’s contributing 19 points and 8 assist to the team every night and is responsible for being a floor general for the team as well. The Rockets are 38-2 this season when Harden, Paul and Capela are all in the lineup. I must also mention that Russell Westbrook is extremely close to making history again. As the season winds down Westbrook is currently posting 25.4 points, 10.2 assist and 9.7 rebounds per game. It is still possible for him to reach a triple double average for the season.
MVP Voter Favoritism
In past years we’ve seen NBA voters give credit to a teams success when deciding the league’s MVP. The voters seem to have a trend of favoring a player from a team with a high win percentage that season. However, the voters did stray from this philosophy when they voted Russell Westbrook MVP. Voters were in awe at the fact that Westbrook averaged a triple-double throughout an entire season, an overlooked Harden’s efforts. Harden’s efforts were also overlooked in the 2015-2016 season. Stephen Curry won the MVP award that season. His team also won 73 regular season games (an NBA record) that year. Curry averaged 30 points per game, 6.7 assist and 5.4 rebound per game. Harden finished second in the MVP voting that year although he averaged similar numbers (29 ppg, 7.5 apg, 6.1 rpg). Curry separated himself from Harden in large part because the Rockets only won 41 games that year.
Is LeBron a legitimate MVP contender?
Lastly, there’s LeBron James. Amongst a season of ups and downs in Cleveland, LeBron has flourished in his 15th year. LeBron is putting up a career high in assist per game (9.1). He’es also posting 8.6 rebounds and 27.4 points per game. LeBron is also averaging a triple double in his last 10 games. The King also averaged a triple double in the calendar month of February. Some experts and fans think LeBron has been the MVP of the NBA for a number of years now. But why haven’t we heard much buzz of him winning MVP this year.
Each year we see star players have phenomenal seasons and miss out on the award for various reasons. This only leaves us to wonder one thing: What makes a true MVP?
All stats are according to, https://www.basketball-reference.com/ , as of March 24, 2018