Who Is the Biggest Threat to James Harden In the Race for League MVP?
The race for the most valuable player award in the NBA is considered a three-man contest between Milwaukee Bucks center Giannis Antetokounmpo, Oklahoma City Thunder small/power forward Paul George and Houston Rockets shooting/point guard James Harden, who is the front runner to bring home MVP honors for the second straight season. All three of these All-Star players have been incredible this season setting new career highs as well as making and breaking history. A strong argument can be made for each candidate and their worthiness of the award that will be officially announced on June 24th in three months. A league MVP recipient is typically the best player on their team, among the best at their position, is considered a top 10 player in the league and is one of if not the main catalyst for their team making the playoffs. Harden is viewed as the odds-on favorite to win the award in consecutive seasons because as impressive as his 2017-2018 campaign was, his 2018-2019 bid has been even better. He was on a historic pursuit of Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain's record of most games with at least 30 points. While he did not surpass all-time great for first place on the list, he did leapfrog him for second place with 32 straight games as Chamberlain was in possession of both first and second on the all-time list. Even though the reigning league MVP is still the popular pick, Antetokounmpo and George have been picking up steam and making their case for why they should be considered for the league’s top honor. A case for Giannis: The player widely known as “The Greek Freak” for his unique blend of size and athleticism rather than his European heritage is perhaps the biggest threat to Harden in the MVP race as his team has the best record in the NBA at 52-18 and are in first place of the Eastern Conference. He has been averaging a double-double all season with nearly 30 points (27.5) and 13 rebounds (12.7) a game, which are both career highs. The sixth-year pro and three-time All-Star has seen his stats go up each year he’s been in the league since being selected with the 15th overall pick in the 2013 draft, is being talked about as being next in line to try to usurp Lebron James as the best player in the league and could use a league MVP award to maker strong case for himself going forward. A case for George: While he is enjoying his best season from in terms of stats across the board, he is considered a dark horse candidate to bring home the award despite averaging more points than Giannis with 28.3 and more rebounds than Harden with 8.2. However, he has been sensational on both ends of the court for the Thunder and has had some of the best offensive performances in the league this year, but he isn’t considered the No.1 player on his team by most experts. Since he is teamed up with former league MVP and triple-double machine Russell Westbrook, he doesn’t receive as much credit for his team’s overall success as the other two ranked ahead of him in the race for the award.