We’re all familiar with the GOAT debate surrounding LeBron James and Michael Jordan (with a dash of Kobe Bryant, here and there), but debated with almost-equal ferocity is the debate over this season’s MVP.
Reigning MVP James Harden is after the award again this year. “I need it,” Harden said of the honor, per Bleacher Report’s Will Gottlieb. “I need it for sure. And I’m getting it.”
And it’s likely that he will, much to the dismay of any detractors who claim that he flops and travels a bit too much, even for the NBA. Harden is coming off of an astonishing 57-point game against the Grizzlies Monday night, and he’s averaging 34.8 points per game so far this season.
Barring an unforeseen injury (or just plain burnout), Harden is likely to keep churning out these numbers given he’s now the lone healthy star on the Rockets’ roster.
Clint Capela will be out for 4-6 weeks with a thumb injury, joining point guard Chris Paul and key shooting guard Eric Gordon as they recover from their own injuries.
Shannon Sharpe Challenges Kevin Durant
In a segment of ‘Undisputed’, Shannon Sharpe went off about Harden’s astronomical production as he carries a team riddled with injury to a spot in the playoffs. They’re not the team they were last year, especially with so many key players recovering on the bench, but Harden’s consistency and dominance are buying the team time–which is, at this point, about the most they can hope for.
“Take any player you want, the best player on any team. Then take away his next three best players, because Harden is playing without Capela, CP3, and Eric Gordon. Russell Westbrook, if you say he’s the best player, take Paul George, Steven Adams, and Jeremi Grant away. If you like KD, take Steph, Klay, and Draymond away, and see if they can do what James Harden is doing.”
It’s impressive, to say the least. The Rockets have won 9 of their last 11 games in spite of their bad luck, which brings to mind the stretch that Kevin Durant had to play without the safety net of Steph Curry and Draymond Green and the Warriors slid noticeably downward in the rankings.
A shot like this at KD is likely to prompt some kind of a response from the Golden State star, who regularly goes to his own defense. But the MVP race is still anyone’s award to win, with stars like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard making strong cases for themselves as well.