What James Harden’s return from injury means for the MVP Race

Barring any setback James Harden plans to return Thursday versus the Minnesota Timberwolves, from a hamstring injury that kept him sidelined for two weeks. Harden sustained this injury on December 31 vs the Los Angeles Lakers. Since Harden’s injury the Rockets have been 4-3 sitting 2nd in the Western Conference. The Rockets lost some ground to the 1st place Golden State Warriors who have been a remarkable 7-1 since December 31. So far this year Harden is averaging a league best 32.3 points, is 3rd in the league in assists at 9.1, and is 10th in the league in steals at 1.8.

Up to date the MVP Race has been debatably a two man race between James Harden and LeBron James who is averaging 27.3 points (3rd best) 8.8 assists (4th best) and shooting 56% from the field (8th best). Many people thought that with the injury to James Harden, this would allow for LeBron James to create some space between the two in the race. But since Harden’s injury LeBron’s Cavaliers have been struggling, with a record of  2-5 since December 31.

It seems likely that Harden has not lost any ground since his injury. The Rockets have posted a winning percentage of .571 with Harden sidelined but when he has been healthy his teams posts an amazing .743 winning percentage, which can prove to show Harden’s value to his team. LeBron’s Cavaliers have also dropped from the second seed to third since Harden’s injury and are only 1.5 games from being the 5th seed in the undoubtedly weaker Eastern Conference.

With still about half of the year yet to be played anything can happen so don’t expect for the MVP race to be close to determined. The Rockets will be on full display this week with two primetime games. So you can catch Harden’s return tomorrow on TNT at 9:30 PM ET as they face the Minnesota Timberwolves or you can watch them face the Golden State Warriors on Saturday at 8:30 PM ET on ABC.

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