By Justin Danziger
Trust me, I hate it too.
The MVP discussion is always a tiring, never-ending dispute, this year especially. With no Kevin Durant in the picture and LeBron’s late improvements, the MVP race is as wide open as can be. Currently, it is a four-man race. It appears to stay that way as the season winds down. You heard it on last week’s podcast. Notis took Westbrook, Amit took LeBron, Matt took Steph, and Dylan took The Beard. All four players are among the best of their generation, but only one is THE MOST VALUABLE.
LeBron James is certainly the best player in the world, but by no means is he this year’s most valuable player.
Dylan made an interesting point in the podcast, basically saying that if you took away LeBron from the Cavs, they would still be a playoff team. I agree and disagree with this point. In no way is it LeBron’s fault that he has an incredible team surrounding him; that factor does not make him any more or less valuable than if he was stuck on the Knicks. But it does prove a point for other candidates.
LeBron will not win the award because of the miserable first half of the season the Cavs endured. Remember that? Remember when the Cavs were 20-20? I certainly do. LeBron has his eyes set on the Larry O’Brien trophy, MVP is just a nice prize on the way.
Russell Westbrook has been playing at a Michael Jordan-esque level lately. Seriously. He is the last person to have that many consecutive triple-doubles. Now that speaks volumes. You know what also speaks volumes? Not winning. I don’t care if Westbrook puts up 100 points, 50 rebounds, and 50 assists…if the Thunder cannot rise from the 8th seed, he is not the most valuable player. OKC is currently tied with the Pelicans for the final spot in the treacherous West. The Thunder have lost three of their last six.
Now this one is a toughy because I love Stephen Curry and what he has done with that team in Golden State. He became an even better scorer, improved drastically on defense, and became a leader. His 24 and 7 statline is MVP level, but his performance behind the stats tells an even better MVP storyline…except for one thing. Like I stated before, it is not LeBron’s fault for being on a stacked up team. The same applies for Curry. But in this case, the Warriors are so good that it is hard to tell where their success has came from. The team is so well balanced that it is hard to tell who is most valuable on that team. Steve Kerr? Klay Thompson and Curry’s balance? Their defense? While Curry is certainly a close second in the race, I do not think he is the most valuable player this season.
This leaves James Harden as your MVP.
James Harden is averaging 27 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds. He is anchoring a 43-20 team in the West without Dwight Howard and with Terrence Jones as the second best player. That speaks for itself. He is clutch in the fourth quarter, creates for his teammates, can draw fouls like no one else, and scores from anywhere…and I mean anywhere. The best part about this story is that Harden is not just a one way player anymore. Harden can defend. While he is no Tony Allen, he can fit in as an average defender. And even if he was playing the same level of defense as last season, his contributions on offense would outweigh his miscues.
James Harden is the most valuable player in the entire league.