Does James Harden Have a Shot at Being MVP by a Unanimous Decision?

Author: Nirwan Vibhor


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Stephen Curry rewrote the history books in the 2015/16 NBA season by becoming the only player ever to win the MVP title unanimously. This season, it’s James Harden who is en route to entering the record books by winning his first MVP trophy. Last three NBA seasons have seen Harden finish second twice, but things are different this year. He is once again putting up staggering numbers this season - having a scoring rate of more than 31 and then complimenting it with an average of nine assists per game. To top it all, the Rockets are currently sitting at the 1-seed in the West, with a slight lead over the Golden State Warriors. The question here: Will Harden win the title unanimously?

Stephen Curry’s Incredible Journey of the 2015-16 Season

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Though there is no doubt that the award is Harden’s. If anyone else wins it, it will one of the biggest shams ever in NBA history. That said, winning unopposed is a completely different story. Curry, of course, secured all 130 votes in the 2015-16 season to become the first ever unanimous MVP, and finishing off in style perhaps the greatest offensive season ever. His numbers, especially on offense, were exceptional as he topped the league in terms of scoring and joined the all-exclusive shooting club of 50-40-90. Moreover, his tally of 402 scoring shots from the 3-pointer line is probably the most insane record in all sports combined. Curry almost single-handedly led the Golden State to win a league record number of 73 games. Such has been the journey that Curry accomplished to be the first-ever unanimous MVP in NBA history.

Why Doesn’t Harden Need to Do a Curry?

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Arguably, as of now, Harden is not having a mind-boggling season similar to what Curry had, no matter how unfair might be the benchmark. That said, Harden doesn't exactly need to top Curry’s accomplishments of the 2015-16 season. Though the voters are likely to measure up Harden against a benchmark of perfection before they think of putting him on to one of the most coveted pedestals in NBA, and therefore, Curry’s performance is exactly the sort of yardstick for the voters. However, Harden too has been sensational this season. He has already scored in excess of 40 points in fourteen games, out of which his individual score sheet read 50 points or more in four games. The icing on the cake was his first triple-double of 60 points in the league history. To put things in perspective, Warrior’s Kevin Durant, probably one of the top five scorers ever, has been able to score 50 points or more in only five games in his entire professional career. And, Harden already has four 50-points games this very season.  

Who can Disrupt the Unanimous Decision For Harden?

Bucks’ player Giannis Antetokounmpo, although a far second from Harden in terms of scoring, is also performing rather freakishly with a sensational statistical season till now. Therefore, he certainly is one. Moreover, if you consider the messy gameplay of the Cavs for the majority of the season, it has been Lebron James’ sheer brilliance that has still managed to keep them at the 3-seed in East, makes him another threat to Harden’s unanimous crowing as MVP. Next up is Kevin Durant who might steal a couple of votes, given his position among the top five defenders of the season. Even DeMar DeRozan of the currently 1-seed Toronto Raptors and Kyrie Irving of Boston Celtics have a shot at getting a few of the votes down. However, it’s Stephen Curry again who comes really close to spoil the perfect party for Harden. Entering this week, Curry leads with the best offensive rating in the league, a second-seed in net rating, and far illustrious shooting percentages than anyone else. Moreover, without Durant in the five, Curry is 7-0, while Harden is 11-7 in the absence of Chris Paul, though he is 2-0 against Golden State this year.

Wrapping Up

Overall, things are pretty tight between Curry and Harden. And while there’s no denying the fact that Harden will be the MVP for umpteen other reasons, Curry or someone else could otherwise steal a couple of the first-place votes. For the time being, let’s just conclude by saying that he’s well within range to make it and that too unanimously. So, much for this gut!


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