Rockets News

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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LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 20: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers picks up his dribble in front of James Harden #13 and Eric Gordon #10 of the Houston Rockets during a 124-115 Laker loss at Staples Center on October 20, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 20: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers picks up his dribble in front of James Harden #13 and Eric Gordon #10 of the Houston Rockets during a 124-115 Laker loss at Staples Center on October 20, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

Convenient False Narrative Regarding Defensive Gap Between Giannis and Harden

The automatic argument behind why Giannis won the MVP is because he’s widely believed to be a much better defender than Harden. But that’s not something I would agree with, as the numbers don’t validate that argument. Sure, Giannis had 110 blocks compared to the 58 blocks Harden had, but Harden had 158 steals as compared to Giannis’s 92. In addition, Harden was second in the league in deflections per game with 3.7, whereas Giannis ranked 59th with 2.1 deflections per game.

Furthermore, according to nba.com, Giannis had a defensive field goal percentage of 40.1% whereas Harden’s defensive field goal percentage was 44.7%. This doesn’t quite align with the proclamation that Harden doesn’t play defense or that Giannis is a much more superior defensive player than Harden.

This is an area where I believe people have made their minds up on Harden, as I’ve previously written about how he’s become one of the best in the league defensively. People love to stick to the narrative of Harden’s earlier years in Houston of not being a great defender, and that’s fair based on what he did on the court. But it’s not fair to ignore what he did on the court LAST season. It’s just a convenient narrative but its inaccurate by the numbers.

Next: Against NBA's Best

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