Why James Harden Should Not Win the NBA MVP Award, again…

Nick Woodhouse, Junior Analyst

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Houston Rockets star shooting guard, James Harden, has returned in an even grander fashion coming off his MVP campaign season last year. Harden averaged 30.4 PPG last season, a remarkable clip, and took his Rockets all the way to the Western Conference Finals where they lost to the Golden State Warriors in a game seven heart-breaker. The Warriors would proceed to sweep Lebron James and the Cavaliers to capture their third NBA title in the last four years. To say Harden has been brilliant this year is a massive understatement. The man is averaging 36.2 PPG through his first 57 games. I repeat: 36.2 PPG! This is a joke of a stat–absolutely unheard of. Harden also has upped his rebounding total—averaging nearly a full rebound per game more than his MVP winning season—an impressive statistic from an offensive minded shooting guard. So why does Harden not deserve another Maurice Podoloff trophy*.

 

First, the Rockets simply are not as good. Their 65-17 record from the year before locked up the #1 seed in the Western Conference and granted them home court advantage in the playoffs. The team has shown flashes of what it was last year, but not even close to what they were able to pull off last year. To put it frankly, they are the poor man’s Houston Rockets from a year before. Currently they sport a 36-25 record which is good for a mediocre 5th seed in the Western Conference. Of the last ten years, only Russell Westbrook was able to snatch MVP while leading a team that failed to snatch a top 4 seed in their conference. In other words, if you’re going to win the MVP award, your team better start winning. Harden must lead his team to some more wins down the homestretch to be worthy.

 

Secondly, JAMES HARDEN SHOOTS SO MUCH. No wonder he is averaging 36.2 points per game. The guy is shooting around 24.4 shots per game and over 13 three point jumpers each contest. This is RIDICULOUS. To put this in some context, Stephen Curry, probably the greatest 3 points marksman of our generation only shoots around eleven shots outside of the arch per game this year, and he shoots 44%! James Harden shoots 36% from three… This is the old-fashion ball hog argument, and it’s a fair one. Harden has seen his assists count drop 1.5 APG over his 57 games in comparison to last year. I wonder why… oh yeah… HE SHOOTS 24 TIMES PER GAME. I think I could shoot 24 times per game and get at least relatively close to his scoring mark. His increase in shooting might honestly be hurting the Rockets. In fact, Houston traveled to Oracle Arena in Oakland to take on Golden State last Saturday with James Harden out due to a minor injury. Seemed like an easy dub for Dub Nation, right? Not quite, the Rockets stunned them with Chris Paul adding a season-high 17 assists in the contest. They looked like the Rockets from last year, but minus James Harden. We sort of have to asks ourselves, does a guy who shoots so much and has great stats as a result really deserve the highest individual honor in professional basketball?

Another player in the news for MVP consideration is Milwaukee’s own, Giannis Antetokounmpo. To me, this guy makes more sense. Known as ¨The Greek Freak¨, Antetokounmpo has taken the NBA by storm in the last couple seasons. Averaging 27 points and 13 rebounds per game (FREAK LIKE NUMBERS), Giannis has revitalized the Bucks franchise, propelling them to a 47-14 record. That mark is good enough to top the Eastern Conference as of now. Many seem to agree with this notion:

¨I think James Harden gets a lot of favoritism, but I think Giannis has the stats to be the MVP and is the best player on one of the best teams in the NBA,¨ said avid NBA fan and Bentonville West Junior Cooper Mackey.

 

There’s no denying Harden is having a historic year in terms of putting the basketball in the hoop, but is it morally right to value stats over wins? It is a question we’ll find out when the Associated Press tallies their votes in June.

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