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Houston Rockets: Why Ric Flair is Right About James Harden’s MVP Snub

Anthony Duckett
Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks is defended by James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks is defended by James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – MARCH 26: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks is defended by James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets during the second half of a game at Fiserv Forum on March 26, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – MARCH 26: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks is defended by James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets during the second half of a game at Fiserv Forum on March 26, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Head-to-Head Against the Actual MVP Winner

The eventual MVP winner was Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, who the Rockets only faced off against two times. In the two games they did play however, Milwaukee won both, as Giannis posted averages of 23 points, 17.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1 steal, .5 blocks and 4 turnovers.

Harden, on the other hand, averaged 32.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1 steal, 1.5 blocks and 6.5 turnovers. It was widely determined that Harden didn’t win the MVP award because he wasn’t nearly as good on defense as Giannis, however Harden averaged more blocks than Giannis when they went head to head.

Let’s take a detailed breakdown of each of these games. The Rockets and the Bucks first played on January 9th, and Harden had 42 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, 1 blocked shot, and 9 turnovers. By comparison, Giannis had 27 points, 21 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 steal. Harden’s 42 points were the most points of all players and was also the same number of combined points as Giannis and All-Star Khris Middleton.

The second game they faced each other was on March 26th. Harden posted numbers of 23 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 blocks and 4 turnovers, whereras Giannis posted 19 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block and 5 turnovers. Giannis actually didn’t even score the most points on his own team, as that was Eric Bledsoe with 23 points. By comparison, Harden led the Rockets in scoring, assists and blocked shots during this game. Giannis didn’t lead the Bucks in any of these categories in the second game against the Rockets, and actually led the Bucks in only rebounds and turnovers.

In addition, Harden actually had more blocks than Giannis, while Giannis had more turnovers than Harden, which is what Harden gets knocked for often. Giannis did this despite having 3 less assists and 11 less shot attempts than Harden. This means Giannis had the ball in his hands less than Harden, yet still had more turnovers.

Next: Team Scoring

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