The Most Valuable Beard
There are four players currently competing for the MVP award, but which one really deserves it this year? In a year of high powered offenses, triple doubles every night and 50 3-point shot attempts a game becoming a norm; James Harden has taken this new style of offense and dominated with it, showing that he should win the MVP this year over Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James.
In a very tight race, I think Russell Westbrook ranks fourth, LeBron James third and Kawhi Leonard second behind James Harden.
As amazing as averaging a triple double sounds, Russell Westbrook just doesn’t manage to win games. He is currently averaging 31.4 points, 10.5 rebounds and 10.3 assists and the Thunder have 40 wins and 30 losses this season. At times it seems like Westbrook is chasing stats instead of trying to make the best basketball plays to win games. Westbrook is trapped in a top-dog mentality that doesn’t seem to work well with others which could ultimately be his downfall in a league where you need multiple all-stars to win a championship.
LeBron James is always in the MVP race because he continues to post tremendous numbers and you can argue that any GM in the NBA would select LeBron over every other player when building a championship team. LeBron consistently puts in the work and carries his team to the NBA Finals. What hurts LeBron and his MVP chances are the facts that he plays with multiple all-stars and the Cavs are currently fourth in the NBA standings. The Rockets have a better record yet Harden doesn’t have as near as much talent around him as LeBron.
The San Antonio Spurs are currently second in the NBA standings and chasing the Golden State Warriors for the number one spot. They are being led by Kawhi Leonard, who is averaging a career best 26.0 points and 3.4 assists. Kawhi Leonard also does it on the defensive end where he is a true lockdown defender. Coach Popovich puts him on the opposing team’s best player in clutch scenarios and also expects him to score their last second shots; Leonard has accepted this challenge and has really proven to be a top MVP candidate. However, Leonard has only played in 62 of 69 games this season and averages only 33 minutes.
Based off of how last season ended, many Houston fans were not sure if their team would even make it back to the playoffs. In his first year in coach Mike D’Antoni’s system, James Harden was moved to point guard and has averaged 29.4 points per game and a league leading 11.2 assists per game. In this year alone, Harden has seven 40-point triple-doubles, no other player in NBA history has more than five in one season. Harden averages 5 fewer attempts per game than Westbrook while only posting 2 fewer points. What he has been able to do in this offense has just been incredible to watch, the man is a machine. He has also played in all 71 games this season and averages 36.5 minutes played. Harden has carried the Rockets to a record of 49 wins and 22 losses which puts them at third in the Western Conference standings. He may not play defense as lockdown as some of the other guys, but he is a hooper and he will go out and give everything he has to win it for his team and his city.