Sports

James Harden is MVP. Game Over.

James Harden. MVP. Again.
James Harden. MVP. Again. Photo by Jeff Balke
Giannas Antetokounmpo has had a brilliant season. The Milwuakee Bucks forward is virtually everything you could want from a dominant young player. He scores. He passes. He defends. He is the total package.

He's no James Harden.

Throughout the season, particularly during Harden's transcendent run of scoring 30 points in more than 30 games, there was still doubt. Antetokounmpo and even others like Kawhi Leonard were being rolled out as potential challengers for Harden's greatness. But, here's the thing. While those guys were having incredible seasons, Harden was rolling out one of the most unbelievable seasons in the history of the NBA.

Two years ago, Harden was masterful, yet he fell short of Russell Westbrook in MVP voting because Westbrook became the first player since Oscar Robertson to average a triple-double for the season. Last year, no one could deny Harden was the best player on the planet. This season, he has been better than both of the last two years and by kind of a wide margin.

Harden leads the NBA in scoring at 36 points per game. His next closest competitor, Paul George, averages 28. An eight-point difference between first and second is simply adjective defying. But, Harden is second in steals, seventh in assists and is the most unguardable player in the NBA.

In a wretched loss to Memphis on Wednesday night, he scored 58 points (28 in the fourth quarter and overtime), had 10 assists, 7 rebounds and 2 steals. It was his seventh 50-point game of the year. No other player in the league has more than one. One! On Thursday, this was posted to Twitter:


In a year of eye-popping numbers for the Beard, that should speak volumes.

Nevermind the fact that he has kept the Rockets, who have struggled with injuries all season long, in the thick of a crowded Western Conference playoff race. When he began his scoring jag, they were next to last in the West. With his run of games and the eventual health of his teammates, they are now in third.

With all due respect to Antetokounmpo and the rest of the NBA. Your MVP is James Harden and it's not really even close.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke