There is no hiding my opinion, James Harden is the MVP. Now he probably will not win and I will explain why, but he deserves to win. Harden was moved to the primary ballhandler spot this season and he has flourished. He looks like a natural Point Guard on the floor and it’s amazing to think that he was playing Shooting Guard a season ago. Harden at the Point Guard spot should be frightening for all the teams that will face the Rockets this season.
Harden is averaging 28.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 12.5 assists per game (yes 12 assists per game). While Harden may be amazing, his team is mediocre. Their second-best player is arguably Eric Gordon, who can shoot threes but he is a horrendous defender. Mike D’Antoni has placed Harden in a Steve Nash position and that is both good and bad. It is good because of how well he is doing at getting his teammates the ball. It is bad because the next guy is averaging 4.5 assists per game (Patrick Beverley). James Harden has a total of 139 assists this season and the rest of his team has a total of 124 assists. It will be interesting to watch and see if this formula can win games and ultimately a playoff spot. The good news is that Harden does not hog the ball and gets it to his teammates.
The reason why Harden may not win the MVP is not because of Russell Westbrook or because of his defense, it is because his team is not one of the best teams in the league. Historically the MVP is always on one of the best teams, the one exception to that is Michael Jordan. For Harden to win the MVP he must will the Rockets into a playoff spot in the tough Western Conference or he can kiss the MVP trophy goodbye. The way that Harden is playing though it could be a good possibility that the Rockets clinch a playoff spot.
Now, about Harden’s defense. Harden said that the Rockets will be focused on defense this season and if they can commit to playing better defense, then the W’s will come. The Rockets commitment to defense shows with the new assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik who is a hard-nosed coach who loves defense. When the Rockets prove that they can play defense it will be something to watch out for if they are to make the playoffs.
Harden is a difference maker in a game. He is the guy you lean on to hit that last clutch shot, lead a team, or more importantly: build a franchise around. All teams want a James Harden. Not only can he play Shooting Guard, but he can handle the ball and throw passes like a natural Point Guard. He can score at will and when he tries to play defense it is passable for a starter.
If Harden can become more of an all-around player instead of just being an offensive threat, the chances for MVP skyrocket. Russell Westbrook has the crazy explosiveness that helps him on defense and offense. But, it is not fair to compare Westbrook to Harden because they are two different players. While they are both scorers, Westbrook tends to keep the ball and try to force plays to happen while Harden finds open guys and waits for the right opportunity to attack or shoot.
At the end of the season we can all see who will be holding up that glorious MVP trophy. It will either be Westbrook or Harden who are both superstars on mediocre teams. Or will it be LeBron, Steph, or KD who are all a part of championship caliber teams. History dictates that it will be LeBron, Steph, or KD but Harden makes an outstanding case to be MVP.