The 2017-2018 season has been a great season with a multitude of players doing some great things on the courts. From Anthony Davis in New Orleans to the Greek freak and his career season, even to LeBron James and his never ending skills. Then there is a special player for Boston, who has been putting up big numbers and shooting 40% from deep.
James Harden laid out the NBA’s 1st 60pt triple-double in it’s history vs Orlando back on 1.30.2018. What he did was beyond something that most would have ever considered a possibility. Hitting 63% from the field and putting the team on his back – along with clutch buckets when his team needed it most. They needed every bit of his massive amounts of production. It was what many would consider an “MVP moment.” That awesome outing vs the Magic seemed to plop Harden, as the favorite for the prestigious award. The award that has gone to players like LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Russell Westbrook over the last 5 seasons.
The MVP has found a way to elude Harden twice in the past three seasons. He was 2nd to Stephen Curry in 2015 and yet again to Russell Westbrook last year. And he put together seasons that were certainly worthy of the MVP. The idea of excellence and the definition of the MVP, is of course, purely subjective. Even though the 6-3 Westbrook was the MVP last season with a dismal shooting efficiency, on a sad non-contending team, was last year’s MVP. The 28-year old PG won it last season based on his triple-double gimmick game. When Westbrook won the MVP in 2016-17, it seemed the standard shifted from best player in the league to just the best entertainer. When things like that happen, you can get the feeling that that winning is no longer relevant. But it should hold some semblance of value, not all of it, but I just cannot see a team that wins only 47 games on the season, having the leagues “Most Valuable Player.”
Harden is talented enough to be in the MVP conversation every year. He is an incredible player that more often then not, finds the best way and most efficient route to get his numbers. As of this article, Harden has gotten a league leading 657 free throw attempts this year, as always, he gets to the line frequently, 5 of the last 6 seasons he has attempted 10 or more/game, which adds greatly to his point total, stops the clock, and gets his team “free points” as he is a very good free throw shooter, at 86%.
Harden has a history of complaining a lot to the refs – and it takes him out his game sometimes. But, if we are being 100% honest, what player doesn’t sell the call in this day and age, whether you like it or not. Harden has been known to embellish contact. If players know he does this, they shouldn’t keep their hands down, defend with their hands up. He is great with crossing the ball over to draw lazy low handed defenders into slapping him on so many shot attempts it’s incredible. Yes, it slows the game down, yes it makes the game boring and can get the team out of rhythm- but as a team, if getting uncontested shots vs contested shots is a bad thing, then call me bad.
Harden has 4793 career free throws vs 4591 field goals made, which is beyond comprehension, as well. As long as the league gives the calls to him, he is going to continue doing his thing.Just because some fans find his style of play distasteful doesn’t mean it isn’t efficient and smart. In an MVP race, it isn’t a beauty contest, and points from the foul line are just as valuable as points from anywhere else on the court.
As every year, we have to mention Lebron James in the MVP race this year. Yes his 27ppg and 9 apg are in the top 5 of the league. But, James still has not been overly dominant this season, and he certainly hasn’t brought the Cavs to the next level, in fact, LeBron doesn’t have the Cavs even to be the favorites in the East. LeBron has had an outstanding career – but he does not deserve to be the MVP conversation this year.
Harden has been more efficient than both LeBron and Curry, leading the Rockets to a far and away better record than the Cavs and a couple of huge wins over Golden State. Harden and Kyrie, in my opinion, should be the frontrunners, but Harden is still the clear choice.
Opponents often have attempted to attack Harden, based on his reputation as a sloppy defender, in hopes of slowing him down offensively, by forcing him to work hard on the defensive end. But this season – Harden is averaging career highs in steals at 1.9 and blocks at 0.7 per game, which leaves most opponents confused as what to do with him.
Harden is way ahead of the pack this year. Even if someone is not a big Harden fan, watching him play, verifies that he’s the most valuable player. And when watching Kyrie, Curry, even James, I just don’t feel like any of them quite hold a candle to him. If I am putting together an NBA team, a legit NBA championship contender. And I’ve got the 1st pick, I’m taking James Harden over everyone else. His smooth shot, excellent vision, and basketball smarts make him beyond guardable, and his ability to get to the line whenever he seemingly wants to – brings his team to another level.
Who in their right mind, wouldn’t acknowledge Harden making the Rockets better? He truly is the Houston Rockets. If you were to switch Harden and Curry out,- do you think Golden State would still be anywhere near the top in the West, would the Rockets still be winning like they are? We know the answer.
James Harden is the #1 player in the NBA this season and my clear selection for the league MVP.