Barring a major collapse, James Harden is going to be the NBA MVP.
A few guys are making a late push — most notably Anthony Davis, and LeBron James is back to being elite after a rather horrid January — but anyone pitching anything other than Harden winning is trying to create a narrative. It was Harden clear and away last time the Washington Posts’ Tim Bontemps polled the media and speaking to other voters nothing has changed.
“He earned it,” DeRozan said after Friday’s shootaround, hours before the Raptors and Rockets will meet in a clash of the first-place teams from each conference. “The things that he’s been doing all year are incredible. I think he’s a lock for it. He deserves it.”
Harden is the best player on the team with the best record in the NBA, he leads the NBA in points per game (30.9) and he’s done it efficiently — he leads the league in PER and Win Shares, and is near the top in nearly every advanced statistical category.
If you’re about to make the “but he doesn’t play defense” argument, watch some more Rockets games first. Harden, when focused as he has been this season, is a respectable defender. He plays well within their system.
Harden is going to win his first MVP (and get that rumored massive bump in his Adidas contract). The real interesting part of the MVP ballot is the rest of it. LeBron, Davis, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Stephen Curry, and a handful of others are in the mix for a spot, and the final weeks could well determine the order.