Through eight weeks of the 2017-18 NBA regular season, the Houston Rockets are the owners of the best record in the West. Since the onset of the November, the Rockets have been on a tear. Other than dropping a game against the Toronto Raptors on Nov. 14, the team has been unbeaten. All the credits go to James Harden whose scoring pace seems unbelievable. It might be early, but here are 5 reasons why James Harden could be the MVP:
Rockets are currently on a run where they’ve won 13 of their last 14 games. In 11 of those victories, they’ve scored more than 115 points. Just like last year, Houston is decimating the NBA records when it comes to three-pointers attempted and made. They have assembled a roster of multiple shooters but the engine of the team’s motor is James Harden.
Harden is not only a deadly threat himself but his offensive prowess allows him to create multiple open shots for multiple teammates over the course of a game. Through 22 games this season Harden averages 31.7 points and 9.7 assists. This approximately contributes to around 50-60 points per game.
Last year, Harden played almost 3000 minutes and was among the highest ranked players in the usage rate category. This year a different Beard has taken the court. While playing almost the same number of minutes, Harden averages 4.6 turnovers this season whereas he committed 5.7 last season. His three-point shooting numbers have gone up from 34.7% to 40.5%. He is marginally shooting better at 45.8% (44.0 last year).
In recent years, Harden has been mocked for his poor defense. This time everyone can clearly see that Harden’s defense has improved and by quite the margin. With his offensive rating also jumping from 113.6 to 115.5, he is able to raise his net rating by that much more. SURPRISE: How many memes of no defense have Harden appeared in this season? None!
In 2015, Harden lost out NBA MVP to Stephen Curry because the Warriors had won more games due to his impact whereas Harden had his personal averages to show off. In 2017, he won more games than his MVP competitor Russell Westbrook but the Brodie’s “triple-double” storyline helped him win it. Harden has clearly not fallen off the radar and is undoubtedly in this year’s MVP talks. So finishing runners-up twice in the past three years does ear him a lot of brownie points in the minds of the voters.
LeBron James? – If the award was who’s the best player then King James is the recipient. In fact, he would have probably got it each year since 2010. But that’s not just the case. Too many things matters! Harden is the first player to reach 600 points this season, showing he must be targeting something precious.
Giannis Antetokounmpo? – Similar to James, Antetokounmpo case doesn’t depend on his number but how many wins he can carry his team to. No doubt, the Greek Freak impacts the game on both ends of the floor but the Milwaukee Bucks haven’t been consistent like Rockets.
Kyrie Irving? – While Irving has led his Boston Celtics to the best record in the league, including a 16-game winning streak, his box score numbers don’t stand out. He’s no doubt the team’s central piece but they have shown they can function and perform to a certain extent without him.