James Harden is having a monster year and is the front runner for MVP. Last year, James Harden had a monster year and was the front runner for MVP. Two seasons before that, James Harden was having a monster season and was front runner for MVP. If it feels as if we have been here before and heard this record before, it is because we have. All roads point to Rome. James Harden is always a bridesmaid but something always happens, or, in the Harden world, someone always happens to yank the award out his hands. First it was Steph Curry. Then it was Russell Westbrook. Now it is _______?
It makes you have empathy for Harden who has taken more than his share of media and fan abuse. When is it going to be his turn? Or better yet, will it ever be his turn? Is he just unlucky?
He is having a career year in points. He is taking more shots that he has ever taken, 21 per game and shooting the second best percentage of his career. This is the first year Harden has hovered so close to shooting 40% from three. When something goes up, something else must come down and that are rebounds. Harden is averaging three less rebounds than last season. His assists have fallen too but with Chris Paul on the team that is expected. Plus, any player would take a 9 assist stat game. Harden is better than he was last year when he would have won the MVP if it wasn’t for a superlative, historic, triple double beast mode year for Russell Westbrook.
Lightening doesn’t strike three times does it?
It is crazy to think that LeBron, after 15 hard as nails years, is doing what he is doing. He is playing like a 27 year old. Every statistical measure is up. Points, rebounds, three point percentage, field goal percentage, steals, minutes. Dude is 33 and shooting 57%. He is 40% from three. He is dropping 9 dimes. And his offensive rating of 123 is a career high. And unlike James Harden, he is the only star on his team, and the only Hall of Famer.
|MVP Thievery, 2017-18||Points||FG%||3-Point%||Assists||Real Plus-Minus Rank|
And that’s where this gets a little bit dicey for Harden. Harden is exceptional but if you take Harden off the Rockets and keep everyone else, they are still a four seed with Chris Paul. Take LeBron off the Cavs and you have a lottery team.
Let’s not rehash what a MVP means. It’s all relative to what you are talking about. But here’s something no one wants to talk about. Writers are human. They have biases that are subconscious. When it is a tie, and I don’t care if we are talking about a pissing contest in the river, the person who is liked the most wins the tie.
The NBA is known for rewarding the Oh my God. It happened last year with Westbrook. He was robotic. It happened the year before with Curry, who was transcendent. LeBron is defying gravity and everything we know to be true about time. We haven’t seen this LeBron ever. I mean, Kevin Love is the Cavs center.
James Harden is the same James Harden. Only James Harden is better. Way, way better. His PER is 30.5. He has a 35.8% usage rate. LeBron’s PER is 31.0. His usage rate is 30.6%. So who breaks the tie?
LeBron wants to win the MVP. He has talked about the meaning of it at this stage in his career. And of course he wants to tie Michael Jordan with MVP’s. Harden wants to win the MVP because it has eluded him. He is playing through knee pain so this third time can finally be the charm and he can put all that Harden shade in the rear view mirror. He needs to get that monkey off his back. He has to get that trophy.
The King vs. The Beard.
Don’t count on whichever team has the best record. That is not going to win this argument. It’s all about the eye test. The Rockets blistering offense lead by playmaker scorer James Harden who is runnning D’Antoni’s brilliant sets, complimented by Chris Paul.
Or, LeBron James, the gang of one.
The vote is going to be close which for James Harden is not a good thing. Close for Harden hasn’t gone well for him. It’s been pretty damned bleak.