Will James Harden have an MVP Challenger?

No.

Before NBA Twitter jumps down my throat, let me repeat: No.

The Beard is having an historic season. Remember all those people questioning if him and CP3 could play together this year? Me neither. They’ve been quiet but Harden’s stats have been LOUD. The dude is hitting 38% of his threes while taking 10 per game. Oh, and he’s doing it while constantly being contested by the leagues best defenders. Check my man’s breakdown of James Harden shot difficulty if you need the proof.

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What’s more, Harden leads the League in scoring and is second in assists. By almost any metric and the simple eye test, he has been the best player in the NBA this year by far. Did I mention that his team is a half game ahead of the Warriors?

But I have to ask, if anyone were to put the pressure on Harden for MVP, who could it be?

*Insert Lebron article here

Disclaimer: I do not expect King James to steal the MVP trophy from Harden. At all.

TEAM SUCCESS

Now, is there a path for James to even challenge the Beard? Yes. It’s a very, very narrow path, but its there. Considering how the vast majority of MVP awards are handed to a player who is on a top 2 team in their conference, Lebron would need his Cavs to surpass the Celtics for second place. At the rate my Celtics are playing, shoot, this may be possible. Cleveland has 26 games left and half of them are against teams that are not in playoff contention. I have them going 18-8 for the remainder of the year but, don’t be surprised if they finish 21-5.

Houston may come back down to Earth, too. In an attempt to pay homage to Michael Rappaport, I won’t fact check this one, but I am pretty sure Houston is 28-1 in all games that Capela, Harden and Paul have played together. This can’t last, right? Jeff Balke of Houston Press has the Rockets ending the year with 62 wins, I have them with 61. Regardless, a 60+ win season in the West is mightily impressive and I am not sure Lebron and the Cavs can comparatively outshine this team success. But if both of these teams finish with the 2nd seed in their respective conferences, the window would be open…

PLAYER COMPARISON

Let the stats speak for themselves. Lebron is having a SICK year, let’s not take him for granted. But if Lebron is sick, then Harden is damn near on his death bed. Dude is ill. The Beard would have to have a significant drop off in numbers or (knock on wood) miss some substantial amount of time. Plus, Lebron would have to level up (is that even possible) and finish the year with a stat link that looked like 28, 10 and 9. Yikes.

LBJ Harden comp

CONCLUSION

For King to come home with another MVP award, he needs a lot of things to go his way. Consequently, he needs a lot of things to not go Harden’s way. The Cavs need to usurp second place from the Cs; something I do not see happening. While doing this, Lebron has to put up some wild numbers. Furthermore, Houston would have to finish below 60 wins and in second place, another unlikely prospect. With that ever so elusive MVP trophy in sight, I do not think Harden is going to take his foot off of the gas pedal.

Make some room on your mantle, Mr. Harden. An MVP trophy awaits.

@Mattesposito_


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