Well we know Charles Barkley may have his issues with Daryl Morey and analytic usage, but he’s been the biggest supporter of James Harden to win the Most Valuable Player this year.
Last night on Inside the NBA the panel got into a heated debate over who should win the M.V.P. listing Stephen Curry, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and LeBron James as the current top considerations for the award. I’m kind of surprised Marc Gasol gets zero mention given what he’s done with Memphis or Kyle Lowry given what he’s done for Toronto, but I guess that’s to be expected in a “star dominated” league.
Kenny the Jet Smith ranked his top 4:
1. Stephen Curry
2. James Harden
3. LeBron James
4. Russell Westbrook
However Smith noted that Westbrook has a bullet beside his name depending on where he can take the Thunder in terms of playoff seeds. Given Westbrook missed 15 games due to a broken hand his chances are definitely lessened. The fact remains though that Westbrook has been on fire this month specifically posting some heady stats and has led his Thunder to winning streaks which have propelled them into the eighth seed.
With partner in crime, and last year’s Most Valuable Player, Kevin Durant out of action again the leadership of Westbrook is making people take notice. Smith noted if Westbrook can move the Thunder up to a fifth or fourth seed it makes his argument more compelling.
Charles Barkley made his argument for Harden (noting he had Steph Curry second)
- James Harden deserves the M.V.P. because he’s carried the Rockets all season without his partner in crime Dwight Howard playing.
- Further, Barkley said none of the top candidates have had to play without their number two
- And also highlighted the other candidates (though I’m pretty sure he meant Curry/James) have multiple stars on their teams
- They remain a top seeded team with home court advantage
- No other player on Rockets is performing or posting big numbers
Barkley noted if Westbrook can move the Thunder up to the fourth or fifth seed then he would reconsider the order of finish
Shaquille O’Neal was a bit of a pill (what else is new) stating the only reason Harden is doing so well is “because he takes all the shots” Seriously Shaq? This highlighted for me how little the big man adds to the panel other than his “Shaqtin a Fool” or “Diesel’s Top 10 Dunks of the Week”.
The irony is I don’t think O’Neal even compiles these clips: he has fans send them in via social media and staff who select and prepare them for the show.
How do I know this? Well the fact he has to have a sheet describing who the player in the clip is should explain that. I recall one night when he started describing the player and dunk in the clip and it wasn’t even the right player. That noted for me how unfamiliar Shaq is with the players, more so it points to the fact these segments are all being preseneted just to appeal to the big man’s ego.
Anyway, Shaq didn’t give his list he simply said Stephen Curry is the M.V.P., end of story.
Ernie Johnson (as per usual) played the perfect mediator pointing out if Curry was able to keep Golden State first throughout the year he probably has the inside track.
If the Most Valuable Player was selected today who should win?
Side note: Following a clip from The Starters who said the MVP is the tightest race ever (which led to the MVP discussion) Ernie mentioned how Barkley had received all the first place votes one year but lost to Magic Johnson because Barkley received only first place votes, but no second or third place votes.
Shaq jumped on this to level some shots at Barkley, but it was Kenny to the rescue for Chuck smiling and delivering a shot to shut up O’Neal “oh like Steve Nash”. I actually laughed at this because O’Neal continually says he should have won both years that Nash won his back to back MVP’s.
Bottom line: the MVP race has heated up with the final push by teams to the playoffs and like the Inside NBA panel we are sure to have several more discussions on who’ll snare this coveted award as we near the end of the regular season.
For now, the Rockets James Harden continues to make his case by keeping the Howard-less Rockets in upper half of the West’s playoff seeds (3rd). Personally, I think the fact Harden has played through several injuries of his own is a main point the analysts are missing in their discussions on the subject.
What do you think?
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