James Harden is going to win the NBA MVP award.
“I would vote for me,” James told The Associated Press. “The body of work, how I’m doing it, what’s been happening with our team all year long, how we’ve got so many injuries and things of that nature, guys in and out, to be able to still keep this thing afloat, I definitely would vote me.”
LeBron does have a case (and likely will finish second or third in the balloting, depending on how voters feel about Anthony Davis‘ candidacy). LeBron is averaging 27.4 points per game on 54.8 percent shooting (and a ridiculous .623 true shooting percentage), plus 9.1 assists and 8.6 rebounds a night. His PER is 28.6, he leads the NBA in value over replacement player (8.1), and in total minutes played as he carries a Cavaliers team into the playoffs (where they are still the team many pick to come out of the East).
What holds LeBron back from winning a fifth MVP? January. That month he still put up good raw numbers (23.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 7.4 assists per game) but he shot 22 percent from three, he became passive on offense and a disinterested defender as the Cavaliers spiraled to a 6-8 record that carried over into February, until GM Koby Altman shook up the roster at the trade deadline. LeBron was dispirited for a month, while Harden has been brilliant and consistent.
Which isn’t to knock James too much, he’s had an amazing campaign in his 15th NBA season at age 33.
“At this point in my career, I’m just trying to break the mold, break the narrative of guys in their 15th year. … I’m trying to do things that have never been done before,” James said. “It’s crazy because I’m not setting out to do it. It’s just kind of happening organically. I’m just training my body and training my mind and going out and playing and seeing what happens.”