Despite having a great season so far, LeBron is not the Most Valuable Player this year.
Let’s be clear, though. LeBron is not the MVP this season. The award is clearly James Harden’s and it would be crazy to think otherwise.
Why does this need to be brought up? Well today, LeBron advocated that he should be the MVP this season due to the adversity and injuries the Cavaliers have had. And they have had adversities. From Isaiah Thomas not working out to problems with Coach Tyronn Lue, Cleveland has had its fair share of issues.
That doesn’t make LeBron the MVP, though.
Why it’s James Harden, not LeBron James
James Harden is leading the discussion for MVP in both areas that judge the award. He has the stats, and he has the wins.
James Harden has had a ridiculous statistical year. He is averaging a career-high 31 points and is nearly averaging a double-double with 9 assists as well. The Beard is also shooting his best from the field since 2014 and has made the Rockets into the No. 1 offense in the league.
LeBron has also been great, but not quite as great. He is averaging 27.4 points, 8.6 rebounds & 9.1 assists a night for the Cavs. While LeBron is shooting better overall, as more of his shots come from the paint, he and Harden are shooting around the same from 3.
On the defensive end, this comparison used to be a joke. However, this season the script is flipped. Harden is the one putting forth effort on defense while LeBron has started to take possessions off. At one point in the season, LeBron was the statistically worst defender in the NBA. Will he get better come the playoffs? Of course, but the MVP is a regular season award.
If you want to go the advanced stats route for a second, James Harden currently has 14.4 Win Shares this year compared to LeBron’s 12.6. Harden also has the higher Usage % at 36.1% compared to LeBron’s 31.3%.
This is where Harden’s resume truly shines. He has led the Rockets to the pretty much locked up No. 1 seed in the West and the best record in the NBA. Both times the Rockets played the Warriors with Harden, Houston won. In a year with one of the best teams in NBA history in the same conference, the Harden-led team is going to be the one that wins 65+ games and takes the top seed.
LeBron and the Cavs have struggled. While they currently have the No. 3 spot in the Eastern Conference, they have been wildly inconsistent. It is still uncertain whether or not they will win 50 games this year in the weaker of the two conferences.
Overall, Harden has had to deal with adjusting to a new All-Star teammate in Chris Paul this year and has done so perfectly. Before the season, critics said the two wouldn’t work, but here we are.
LeBron got a new All-Star teammate, too. He got traded from the Cavs after struggling to adjust to James and the rest of the team.
James Harden is the Most Valuable Player.