No Doubt: James Harden Is On Pace to Win His Second NBA-MVP Award
Brian Barefield | 3/29/2019, 10:47 a.m.
There was a pretty big game on Wednesday night between the Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks. It was a showdown between two of the hottest teams in the NBA. The Bucks have the best record in the Eastern Conference and the Rockets are in a dogfight for third in the West behind Golden State Warriors and Denver Nuggets. But that’s not why there was a sold-out crowd at the Fiserv Forum in Wisconsin. Fans have had this game circled on the calendar for a very long time to see the marquee matchup of the Rockets guard James Harden and Milwaukee power forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. Luckily for them, they also got a chance to see the real MVP up close and personal in Harden.
Is there any doubt in the voters’ minds at this point that Harden, the Western Conference Player of the Week for March 18 – 24th, his fourth of the season, does not have the award already wrapped up? He led the Rockets to a 3-1 record last week in a four-game span while averaging 44.3 points a game. Although the scoring average for that week is impressive, so is 50.0% from the field and 52.8% from 3-point range. The fans also got a chance to witness him become the first player in NBA history to score at least 30 points against each of the opposing 29 teams in a single season since the NBA expanded to 30 teams in 2004-05. Oh, and did I mention he scored 118 points in two games versus the Memphis Grizzlies (57) and the San Antonio Spurs (61).
"Whoever was in the gym tonight probably witnessed something they have never seen before. There's no way. That was one of the best performances in his career and due to the magnitude of the game, we needed it. I don't know how many points he got in the last four minutes, but we were down. The guy was playing," Head coach Mike D’Antoni said after Harden’s 61-point performance against the Spurs in the Toyota Center.
I do want to go on record by saying that Antetokounpo is having a great season and his improvement in his fifth year in the league is incredible. You can tell that he really worked hard in the off-season to put on some muscle to sustain the bumps and grinds of having to play in the paint. The “Greek Freak” is averaging 27.4 points and 12.6 rebounds for the season while having the most total team wins in the NBA.
Any other year outside of this one those numbers would be enough to win the MVP award, but James Harden is on pace to become the first player in NBA history to average 35.0 points per and 7.0 (currently he is at 36.4 points and 7.5 assists) assists per game. So, in my eyes, it is virtually a lock for the reigning MVP.
"I've seen a lot of basketball in my life, played against a lot of people, and his talent level is just something that I've just never seen before,” said teammate Gerald Green when describing what he sees watching Harden play.