James Harden has been considered to be among the NBA’s elite for the last few seasons, but he has never obtained the honor of being the NBA’s MVP. This season, that should change because Harden has been the most dominant player throughout the season and he shows zero signs of slowing down.
Harden’s stat line has been completely ridiculous this season. He has averaged 31.6 PPG (1st in the NBA), 9.1 AST (3rd in the NBA), 5 RPG, and 1.9 SPG (8th in the NBA). He is top 10 in the NBA in four categories, and one of those happens to be in a defensive category. Harden’s skill offensively has always been known and is well documented. But Harden has stepped up this season and taken a bigger role and responsibility on the defensive side of the ball, although he is still not Kawhi Leonard good at defending the perimeter. The Rockets have also had a historically good offense this season, good for the ninth best offense of all time. This is all because of Harden’s impact on and off the ball. His distribution of the ball, which has not been on display much besides this season, makes him the number one threat for opposing defenses every time he steps foot on the court. This can be attributed to his move to point guard, putting the ball in his hand nine minutes a game. It is amazing that he has had this success playing a position new to him and one that is more difficult in general. He has the highest win-share total in the entire NBA. Defenders cannot guard up on Harden when he is facing the basket there is no stopping him and they can’t play too far back because you give him an open look which he will hit without breaking a sweat. Harden has also helped his team sweep the season series over the mighty Golden State Warriors, a feat not many teams have done. Plus, Harden’s recent performance which put his name in the history books with the highest point total while putting up a triple-double (he had 61 points) is plain ridiculous. Putting up that many points itself is difficult, but doing it in the process of distributing and rebounding is just astonishing.
The decision for the MVP will most likely come down to Harden and former MVP Russell Westbrook. Harden’s incredible ability to score the basketball on his own and to elevate the game of those players around him to such a high degree is astounding. Without Harden, Houston does not have a chance at challenging the juggernauts that are the Warriors and Spurs. With Harden, they have a chance to not only beat them but also win a championship. Isn’t that what an MVP is?