Daily Rocket Science: James Harden’s MVP Bid
By Ben Casey
James Harden has been playing the best basketball of his career this season, and is likely to be rewarded for his efforts with an MVP trophy.
Houston Rockets fans know how necessary James Harden is to the team. Without him, the team would almost assuredly be headed for a lottery pick in the draft. Not only is he the backbone of the Rockets, but he also is one of the best players in the NBA. The narrative around him has changed significantly over the course of the season, and the media now appreciates him for what he does on the court.
In today’s Daily Rocket Science, we will be checking up on the Beard’s MVP case. For a few days, he took a backseat to Russell Westbrook and Kawhi Leonard, but those fads have faded a bit.
James Harden’s MVP case in the media
One of the main reasons that James Harden is a likely MVP winner is his durability. The point guard has only missed one game in the past three seasons. While his peers have missed multiple games due to rest or other nagging injuries, the Beard has been shockingly consistent. Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reported that Mike D’Antoni knows not to ask Harden to rest.
"“I’m a hooper,” Harden said. “I just want to hoop. I’ll rest when I’m done…my teammates and organization need me to go out there and do what I do. I get obviously paid for it, but it’s something I love. I enjoy the grind…enjoy how hard it is…” Harden added he does not want Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni to order him to take a break. “Mike knows not to come at me with that,” Harden said."
Speaking of D’Antoni, his switching Harden from shooting guard to point guard has done nothing but good things for the Rockets. It’s also allowed the Beard to play the type of basketball that he wants to play. He’s naturally ball-dominant but wants to get his teammates involved, and he’s free to have the best of both worlds now. Rahat Huq of Red94 wrote on how the Point Beard Experiment has worked out flawlessly.
"With just twelve games remaining in the NBA season, I can now safely confirm that The Point Beard Experiment was a complete success. Not only did James Harden prove capable of playing the position, he has spearheaded one of the most prolific offenses in the history of the league."
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After some time with other players at the forefront of the MVP debate, James Harden is back where he belongs. According to staff at USA Today, the Beard is the MVP at this point in the season. His four consecutive triple doubles are making it hard to ignore him this week.
"While Westbrook was leading the Thunder to five straight wins, Harden was putting together back-to-back 40-point triple-doubles for the Rockets, who are essentially locked in as the No. 3 seed in the West."
The Houston Rockets need James Harden, and he’s giving them all they could want. His usage rate is crazy high, but he has consistently produced great basketball all year long. If the Rockets continue to win, it’ll be difficult to find a reason to pick somebody else for MVP.
Next: Tackling the Two-Way Impact Argument for MVP
James Harden and the Rockets take on the Nuggets for the second time later tonight in Houston. He’ll want to keep his hot streak going, so the Beard will seek out his fifth straight triple-double.