4 historical Rockets' moments we wish were April Fool's jokes
3. James Harden's multiple MVP snubs
In 2017-18, James Harden took home the MVP trophy, after Harden (30.4 points and 8.8 assists) led the Rockets to the best record in the NBA. Harden had been an MVP finalist twice before snagging the trophy, but was beaten out by Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors in 2014-15 and Russell Westbrook in 2016-17, after Westbrook averaged a triple-double for an entire season for the first time since Oscar Robertson in 1962.
The inconsistency of the award is partly what caused Harden to miss out, particularly in those years, as Curry was the best player on the best team, as the Warriors won a league-leading 67 games, with Curry averaging roughly 24 points and eight assists, compared to Harden's 27 points and seven assists on the 56-win Rockets. As we all know, Curry was surrounded by more, but was deemed to have had a better argument for the trophy.
The duel between Harden and Westbrook in 2016-17 was much closer, but Westbrook had a better story, particularly after Kevin Durant left, and before Paul George arrived. It was actually determined that Harden had much more help, compared to that of Westbrook, forcing Westbrook to do more (31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.4 assists compared to Harden's 29.1 points, 11.2 assists, and 8.1 rebounds).
Westbrook's Oklahoma City Thunder won 47 games, compared to the Rockets' 55 wins, which surely fueled the story of having to do more with less for Westbrook.
Perhaps the most egregious MVP snub for Harden was in 2018-19, which saw him lose the award to Giannis Antetokounmpo, whose Milwaukee Bucks won a league-leading 60 games, while the Rockets won 53 games, which was good for fourth in the Western Conference, after a relatively slow start that saw them go 11-14 through the team's first 25 games.
Antetokounmpo averaged 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 5.9 assists, compared to Harden's 36.1 points (becoming the first player since Michael Jordan in 1986-87 to average 36 or more), roughly eight assists, and seven rebounds. Harden had to do more with less that season, as the Rockets were hit with an avalanche of injuries, leading to the unguardable tour, which saw Harden score 30+ points for over two months straight, in 32 consecutive games, to be exact.
Harden scored 30+ points against every team that season, but Antetokounmpo got the nod, as he had the better story and had more wins. Harden also could've been hit by voter fatigue, as he had been a top-two finalist in 3 seasons prior to that.
The ambiguity and inconsistency of the voting caused Harden to miss out on more trophies.