Fresh off of being robbed for a second consecutive MVP award, the superstar of the Houston Rockets was recently named the third most likely to win MVP. Is that too low? Let’s take a look.
So I’ll start by saying the MVP odds in July don’t matter at all, as the winner won’t be revealed until June of next year, but a list of early 2020 MVP odds have been compiled. That list of odds have come from Caesar’s Palace via Bleacher Report’s sports betting section and has the Beard as the third-most likely player to win the MVP behind Giannis Antetokounmpo and Stephen Curry. Is James Harden of your Houston Rockets rated too low?
For starters, we don’t even know if the award is based off the best player on the team with the best record, or if it really is based on the player most valuable to his team, so it can be hard to say definitively.
Multiple MVP players on the team
To be fair, I wouldn’t necessarily be shocked if Harden doesn’t win MVP as Westbrook will likely also be a finalist himself. Westbrook has finished in the top 5 in MVP voting in 5 consecutive seasons prior to this past season and won one himself in 2017. Even in this past season, Brodie was still a top 10 finisher in MVP voting, which is great to hear as a Rockets fan. This also puts in perspective why Red Nation should be excited about getting Westbrook because the Rockets just added an MVP to pair with another MVP in Harden.
But according to FiveThirtyEight, the Rockets are picked to win the West. If this happens and the Milwaukee Bucks win the East, there’s no doubt Harden should win the award over Giannis. The West has traditionally been tougher than the East but that will definitely be the case this season as we’ve seen All-Stars such as Kawhi Leonard and D’Angelo Russell move to the Western Conference, in addition to Paul George and LeBron James having made the same move in each of the last two off-seasons.
The only way I could see Giannis winning the award over Harden again is if the Rockets don’t finish in the top 2 in the West. Granted that’s a real possibility during the regular season, which is what the award is based on but personally, I don’t think that is going to happen. Also, don’t think just because of the Westbrook factor that Harden won’t win the award because Paul George finished third in MVP voting this past year despite playing alongside Westbrook.
I think Harden could very well bring home the trophy again, but I could see an avenue in which Giannis wins the award if the Bucks finish with a higher seed in the East than the Rockets in the West, simply because the West is far more superior than the East. This outcome would be a repeat of the voting from this past season. But again, by that same logic, if it comes down to Harden or Giannis, it should go to Harden as a no brainer because of the strength of the Western Conference.
But the real issue with these MVP voting odds is the fact that Steph Curry is considered second most likely to win the award, ahead of Harden. The Warriors will certainly not finish with a better record than the Rockets and I also believe Curry won’t have as good of a season as Harden. I believe Harden will still score more than Curry and have more assists per night than Curry.
Draymond Green will lead the Warriors in assists for sure and I also wouldn’t be surprised if D’Angelo Russell averages more assists than Curry, as this past season Russell averaged 7 compared to Curry’s 5.2. Curry also will surely finish outside of the top three in rebounds for the Warriors, as Green, Kevon Looney and Willie Cauley-Stein will all surely average more rebounds than him. I’m also not convinced Curry will average more points more than Harden, as I believe Harden will get more shot attempts, 3 point attempts, and free throw attempts than Curry.
So if Curry finishes third on the team in assists and outside of the top three on the team in rebounds while getting outscored by Harden, there is no way he will win the MVP award over Harden. Because again, the Warriors will not win as many games as the Rockets. I have no clue why Curry would be ahead of Harden in MVP voting odds.
So I don’t know why Steph Curry is ahead of Harden in MVP voting odds nor do I agree about Giannis being ahead of Harden either, but hopefully Harden doesn’t get robbed again like this past season. But ultimately, I care more about Harden winning the NBA Finals MVP than the NBA MVP.