Poll: Will James Harden Win MVP?

A year ago, Russell Westbrook made NBA history by becoming the first player in over five decades to average a triple-double for an entire season. Despite the fact that his Thunder were only sixth in the Western Conference, Westbrook earned MVP honors.

This season, Westbrook’s Thunder sit in fifth in the West, and the star point guard is nearly averaging a triple-double again, with 25.3 PPG, 10.4 APG, and 9.5 RPG. This time around though, Westbrook is an afterthought in the MVP discussion — he finished seventh in a recent poll of NBA reporters conducted by Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post.

Westbrook’s triple-double average was at the center of his 2016/17 MVP case, but it wasn’t the only point in his favor. He also led the NBA in scoring, and the fact that he wasn’t playing alongside an established star like Paul George buoyed his case. Still, the contrast between the general perception of last year’s performance and this year’s is an indication that MVP votes often rely on a narrative as much as anything.

In 2017/18, James Harden‘s narrative is the one gaining momentum. The best player on what has been the league’s best team, Harden has led the Rockets to a 44-13 mark and has posted staggering numbers in the process. He’s leading the NBA with 31.3 PPG, and has also contributed 9.0 APG, 5.1 RPG, and 1.8 SPG on .448/.384/.865 shooting.

Harden’s excellent season earned him the top spot on 91 of the 100 ballots Bontemps received in his informal MVP poll earlier this month. Only one of the 100 writers polled left Harden out of the top two. Those figures suggest that the race isn’t close, but should it be?

ESPN’s Zach Lowe suggested earlier today that you could make a real case for Giannis Antetokounmpo as a co-favorite in the MVP conversation. Antetokounmpo, who is averaging 27.8 PPG, 10.4 RPG, and 4.8 APG with a .540 FG%, is putting up monster numbers of his own, and his on/off-court numbers are striking — the Bucks have a +5.6 net rating when he plays, and a rating of -9.7 when he sits.

Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, the first two runners-up in Bontemps’ poll, are both having big seasons for the Warriors, and LeBron James should be part of the MVP discussion too, especially if he and the new-look Cavaliers have a strong finish. The Raptors and Celtics are the top two teams in the East right now, so DeMar DeRozan and Kyrie Irving shouldn’t be written off either. And the way Jimmy Butler has led the Timberwolves this year has been impressive.

In other words, there are no shortage of worthy candidates for this year’s Most Valuable Player award, so should Harden be considered the overwhelming favorite to win it, as the results of Bontemps’ poll suggest?

What do you think? Will Harden be this year’s MVP? Who is his biggest threat to claim that award? Vote below in our poll and jump into the comment section so share your thoughts!

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13 thoughts on “Poll: Will James Harden Win MVP?

  1. hiflew

    Overwhelming favorite? No. Favorite? Yes. As far as voting for DeRozan, that’s a joke. It is MVP, Most Valuable Player, not BPOBT, Best Player on Best Team.

    I’d go
    1. Harden
    2. Giannis
    3. Karl-Anthony Towns
    4. Anthony Davis
    5. LeBron

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  2. Z-A

    Sorry triple double average and a playoff team = mvp again. Harden is having a great statistical year and they will be 1 or 2 seed. I’d say the only factor for team achievement is if they are a playoff team above .500, no mvp on a losing team. Harden has a top running mate too, that argument is moot. They all do except for LBJ who had eh and now has younger eh.

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    • I agree about the team achievement. As long as you’re on playoff team that is over .500, you should have serious consideration for MVP if the numbers back it up. As much as the game is a star-driven sport, you still need to surround the star with talented players. One man can only do so much when there is a lack of talent around him. That’s why LeBron’s MVPs are a bit more impressive. His surrounding cast was pretty mediocre and the Cavs still finished top 3-4 in the Eastern Conference.

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      • Z-A

        If you go by the – take them off the roster, replace with a league average player – that makes LBJ the MVP. The rest of the team’s would be hovering around 7-8-9-10 range for playoff standings.

        I’d put it:
        1. Westbrook
        2. LBJ
        3. Harden/Giannis

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  3. Harden should be the favorite. Giannis should be second. After that, its really a toss up between LeBron, AD, KAT, KD/Curry, Westbrook, etc,. Playing with CP3 (who is having a fine year himself) shouldn’t sway voters away from Harden. Unless Giannis really takes a gigantic leap during the last part of the season, I don’t see why Harden shouldn’t win. And to be clear, I’m not saying Giannis doesn’t have a good argument to be MVP, its just that Harden is having a better year.

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  4. Like to see how Harden would do if he couldn’t push off defenders. He constantly uses a forearm to get separation and score. He should foul out in first half of games.

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    • Almost every player does the same. LeBron, KD, Curry, Westbrook, Vintage Melo, etc,.As long as its not a blatant push off, you’re allowed to use your forearm to create space.

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  5. ariel1234

    Giannis
    Lebron
    Harden
    Westbrook
    Durant
    Cp3
    Towns
    Irving
    Curry
    DeRozan

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  6. pugbuttsupreme

    I don’t like the “best player on the best team” argument. In my opinion it should be determined by 1 of 2 factors (or a combination of both). 1- the player with the best overall statistics. 2- the player with the most impact on their team. If you say, take away LeBron from the Cavs, it’s safe to assume they wouldn’t be anywhere near where they are. If you take KD or Steph off the Warriors, they’d still be the best (or at least top 2) team in the league, as shown by how well they did before they got KD. I think it’s a 2 horse race between LeBron and
    Harden. Giannis a close 3rd. I’d give a vote to LeBron personally but then again I’m not a professional basketball mind

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    • Giannis would have to be in that two horse race if that’s the standard to vote. The Bucks bleed points and can’t score when Giannis sits. He’s a DPOY candidate and is his team’s best offensive player. And they’re definitely not a playoff team without him. LeBron probably doesn’t finish top 3 (unless Cleveland goes on a tear the final stretch of the season) since the writers will hold his (at times) effortless play against him and the fact that they seemed to be bored voting for him.

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  7. pugbuttsupreme

    I don’t like the “best player on the best team” argument. In my opinion it should be determined by 1 of 2 factors (or a combination of both). 1- the player with the best overall statistics. 2- the player with the most impact on their team. If you say, take away LeBron from the Cavs, it’s safe to assume they wouldn’t be anywhere near where they are. If you take KD or Steph off the Warriors, they’d still be the best (or at least top 2) team in the league, as shown by how well they did before they got KD. I think it’s a 2 horse race between LeBron and
    Harden. Giannis a close 3rd. I’d give a vote to LeBron personally but then again I’m not a professional basketball mind

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  8. bravesfan88
    bravesfan88

    Until he plays defense Harden should not ever win an MVP award…End of story..How can you be the most valuable player when you only play half the game??

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