By Cesar Hernandez
Published: March 20th, 2019
In a year where James Harden has had numbers that are higher than those of greats before him, it makes it reasonable for him to be crowned as MVP for the second year running. The brilliance of other candidates such as Giannis Antetokounmpo and Paul George is that they provide stiff competition that can complicate the race for winning MVP. But, Harden can potentiality edge out others based on how important he is for his team compared to other contenders.
Up to now he has put up 36 points per game, which is eight points above George at second place. He’s managed to make 308 three-pointers, which is the league’s best and 24 more than Stephen Curry. It makes more of a claim that last year’s MVP has executed more three-point shots than Curry, who has showcased to be one of the best three-point shooters of all time. This all goes back to the dependency that the Houston Rockets have on Harden. They currently sit third in the Western Conference, 4.5 games behind the Golden State Warriors and 3.5 games behind the Denver Nuggets.
The team has gotten themselves into this position from major contribution from the beard himself. Players like Clint Capela, Chris Paul, and Eric Gordon have provided consistent performances to aid the team but have succumbed to injury knocks. While they’ve been gone, Harden had to put resilient performances in making up for the points the injured players would’ve created. Up to date, Harden has been responsible for an astonishing 2,348 points out of the team’s total 7,784. Second on the team is Eric Gordon who has provided 933 points.
The leadership of Harden includes leading the team totals in the majority of the team’s stats categories such as three-pointers, field goal percentage, assists of all kinds, free throws made, steals, etc. It’s undoubtable how much of an asset he is for Houston. Houston wouldn’t be in its position without a player like Harden. Having a healthy Harden can only benefit them more going into the playoffs next month.
Antetokounmpo has been able to have a supporting cast that has helped disperse the workload more evenly. This has helped the Milwaukee Bucks to have the best record in the league. Paul George with the help of another phenome of this era in basketball, Russell Westbrook, who has been able to partner and create a duo that has brought a great season to the Oklahoma City Thunder who sit fifth in the Western Conference. Non have not quite had the same powerful responsibility to lead their team like last year’s MVP.