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James Harden or Stephen Curry: Who Has Edge in MVP race?

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James harden and Steph Curry are seemingly climbing the MVP ladder together. As we approach the season mid-way point, the race is heating up. The league will soon prepare to enter into it’s annual All-Star break, with Curry and Harden both competing in the Foot Locker three-point contest on All-Star Saturday Night.

A combination of accumulative stats, player efficiency while on the court, and the impact each has made to their teams overall success signifies who’s on the road to individual greatness. Let’s look at some of the 2014/15 traditional and advance stats to see who has the edge going forward:

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Chef Curry

Fresh off the boot straps of a recent 51 point outburst which included ten long bombs, Curry spear headed an epic comeback against the Dallas Mavericks.

This performance left some feeling like one half of the splash brothers gained an inch on Harden in the race. On Curry’s 51-point performance Rick Carlisle opined “He had one of those extra special nights. I’ve never seen anyone hit shots like that from a distance”. He’s one of the rare guys we’ve ever had in this league. In 2013, Steph went from really good, to super bad. It should be no surprise that the three point specialist has picked up right where he left off. His shooting ability reeks of awesome.

“He had one of those extra-special nights. Ive never seen anybody hit shots like that from that distance. He’s one of those rare guys we’ve ever had in this league” –  Rick Carlisle

Curry is bolstering a true shooting percentage of 63%. The only volume shooter ahead of him in terms of TS% is Kyle Korver. What separates the two is that Korver only registers eight field goal attempts per game, to Curry’s sixteen.

The Warriors sharp shooter is a fraction of a hair away from seeing the very special 50/40/90 line, which historically has only ever been recorded by six different players.  The most recent being Kevin Durant. One can easily get lost in the beauty and allure of his shooting ability and completely disregard the outstanding ball facilitation he provides.

The All-Star point guard is averaging a career high in assists at just over 8 per contest. Standing at just over six feet and tipping the scales at 190 pounds, Curry wasn’t known for being a strong defender. Those days are long behind him as the pesky point guard is now holding his own on the defensive end.

Enjoying much improved on-ball defense, Curry is also posting a career high in steals (2.1). Golden State sits atop the Pacific Division inside the NBA’s always tough Western Conference. The 25 year old back court stud is a big part of why this team is an early favorite amongst title talks.

Fear the Beard

Let’s start with the improved defense, James Harden drew tough criticism for blown assignments and lackadaisical defense in seasons past and rightfully so. Once a monster liability, Harden has transformed his game on the defensive end to an asset. Harden is averaging a career high in rebounds and steals. His on ball defense should also be recognized as being much better. At this point James Harden should be considered a much improved/legit two-way player.

His offensive game has actually grown, how scary is that? Harden is seeing a career high in most traditional cats, including assists. The former third overall pick leads the team in dimes and points. His play making ability is grossly underrated. Known mostly for his scoring prowess, this man can also pass the basketball making him deadly as a triple threat option.

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Harden’s percentages are well above average, as he also ranks amongst the best in efficiency. The Rockets leader is converting on almost three triples a night, shooting from beyond the arc at 40%.

Showing an uncanny ability to get to the line, he leads all players in free throws made per game (8.1).  Tony Allen is widely regarded as one of the leagues best defenders, he took to record to say that Harden is the only player he hasn’t figured out yet.

No one and I mean no one is better at getting to the rack than the man with the beard, as his dribble penetration is revered as best in class. The former 6th man of the year can straight fill it up, as Harden has become a very creative and crafty offensive player. He ranks first in scoring, dropping over 27 a night on opposing teams. Defenses are left to prepare specifically for his game. Harden is the heart and soul of the Houston Rockets, delivering night in and night out.

“He’s the best player in basketball right now. The things he’s doing are incredible. The scouting report is focused in on him and stopping him and he’s still getting 30 a game. It’s impressive.” – Chandler Parsons

Who’s Got Next?

It is hard to find a clear cut winner with two players of this caliber. Both in their own right, have created a legit case for first half MVP talks. Curry has helped his team stay on top, while moving towards possible posting one of the most efficient statistical shooting seasons of all time. Harden on the other hand has been a lethal threat to opposing defenses and improved everywhere across the board.

“He’s the best player in basketball right now. The things he’s doing are incredible. The scouting report is focused in on him and stopping him and he’s still getting 30 a game. It’s impressive” – Chandler Parsons

At this point I am going to give the edge to Harden, by a slight margin. The Rockets are first in the league when it comes to three pointers made (11.8) and 3rd in percentage of points scored while on the fast break (17.2). The Rockets are 7th overall in scoring (102.8). The Warriors sit above Golden State offensively, but it is Harden’s game that has gotten them here. He is masterful on the break and with the long ball. Harden is clearly the catalyst to the Rockets’ offense who would surely struggle to compete in the West without his tool box.

Now it’s time for you the readers to weigh in. Please comment below and tell us who you think has the edge going forward in this years MVP race: Harden or Curry?

Next: Harden the Offensive Juggernaut

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