Let’s give a slow round of applause to the 2017-2018 NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP), James Harden.
Okay, he hasn’t won it yet, but come on. It’s inevitable that he will win it, essentially usurping Lebron James of the award once again. Last night at the Pelicans-Clippers game, even Coach Doc Rivers and Alvin Gentry both openly admitted in the press room when asked, Harden is definitely the MVP. In my opinion, I still do not understand how people don’t see that James of the Cleveland Cavaliers is clearly a top candidate for most valuable player this season, as he played all 82 games of the regular season, dealt with constant roster injuries and turnover in Cleveland (losing Kyrie Irving while Harden gets superstar Chris Paul?), front office and coaching issues, all while essentially achieving the same record as last year. That’s value right?
But that’s another argument for another day.
Harden will win the MVP this year, and deservedly so. I get the statistics, and the fact his team is ranked first in the Western Conference, but does it even matter? To me, this is the year of the “lost” MVP. Ruminate with me here. Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder won it last season for averaging a triple double throughout an entire season, getting his team to the playoffs after resident superstar Kevin Durant left. That was one hell of a story line, and a justifiable reason to award Westbrook. Prior to that, Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors won the previous two awards (2014-2015, 2015-2016) because he changed the landscape of the NBA by dominating with his dazzling ball-handling skills, and otherworldly three-point shooting ability. He also dominated the news headlines, and served as the poster child of the league. The year prior to that, Kevin Durant finally eclipsed King James after a season long two-man race for MVP. Despite Westbrook being out for half of the season due to knee surgery, Durant put 32 points, five assists, and seven rebounds for the season, leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to a second seed in a loaded Western conference.
James had a memorable two year MVP stretch in Miami (2011-2012, 2012-2013), and despite what critics say, Derrick Rose deserved his 2010-2011 MVP. He was a monster.
This year the statistics fit, but the narrative does not.
It seems like more of a participation award.
The Houston Rockets won the first seed because the Warriors were hampered by injuries this year. Harden didn’t really face any adverse situations, and had the security blanket of star point guard Chris Paul for most of the season. On the other side of the country in Cleveland, James probably would have had more of a legitimate case were it not for the abysmal January that he had, which was conducive to him getting the requisite parts necessary to compete for a championship. Not to mention that Harden is playing for Coach Mike D’Antoni, whose historic up-tempo offensive system typically augments the play of the players in the system. If you don’t believe me, Google “Jeremy Lin 2011-2012”.
If the season award is purely about statistics, then give it to Harden. He’s averaging 30.6 points and 8.7 assists while sharing point guard duties with Paul, which is admirable. But I’ve always thought that the award should be 60% narrative and 40% stats. I can think of a candidate in Cleveland, Ohio that fits that role! #IJS
You finished with that applause for Harden yet?
Soak it all in, and try to live in the moment because three years from now, you won’t remember who won the MVP this year.
You’ll always remember how Curry dominated the league for two years with his game changing play.
You can’t forget the historic triple-double that Westbrook averaged over the course of a season, becoming the first player to do so since Oscar Robertson in 1962.
But this year’s MVP award will be one easily forgotten, and unless you’re a huge Harden fan, you know it too.
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