What makes someone the Most Valuable Player in an era where everything is subjective? Does it go to the best player overall? The best player on the team with the most wins? Or the player that a franchise cannot live without? Many variables come into play when discussing the Most Valuable Player award. This year the front-runners for the honor are Kevin Durant, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and LeBron James. With each of these premier athletes having astounding résumes, who is the real MVP?
Heading into the season, Westbrook was expected to have an MVP season and make the Thunder competitive in the Western Conference minus Durant. One is true, the other is not so much. Westbrook is averaging a triple-double this season with 31 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. On top of that, Westbrook has a league leading 29 triple-doubles this season. But albeit the epic numbers, the Thunder are locked into the 7th spot in the West, which could result in a first round exit from the playoffs.
James has been the profound best player in the NBA for a number of years. This season he has lived up to that mantra by positioning the Cleveland Cavaliers for another championship run. James has the Cavs in 1st place in the Eastern Conference, while Averaging 26 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists per game. Without James in the lineup this season, Cleveland is 0-4.
Harden is solving every problem in Houston through his effective play. With a team that’s molded similar to the Golden State Warriors with less effective shooters, Harden has paced the Rockets to third place in the Western Conference. Harden has 15 triple doubles this season, along with averaging 28 points, 8 rebounds and 11 assist per game, the league leader. Harden has also made his teammates better in the process, with Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson and Trevor Ariza all averaging career highs across the board.
Kevin Durant made the biggest offseason move this year by relocating to Golden State. The newest splash brother has lead the Warriors to a record of 50-9 through 60 games by averaging 26 points and 8 rebounds per game. Durant is also shooting a career-high percentage from the field and 59%. But with a star-studded cast and a team that won 73 games without him last year, is he the most valuable?
The Real MVP:
James Harden is the MVP right now, and should be once the season concludes. Many could argue that Westbrook, from a statistical standpoint is more deserving, which is debatable. But, something you can argue is wins and losses. Harden and Westbrook are in similar situations, but the results are different. Without Harden or Westbrook, the Rockets and Thunder respectively would be at the bottom of the Western Conference. But James Harden’s effect on the Rockets has pushed them to third place, while Westbrook and the Thunder sit at 7th. With an individual reward, based upon team efforts, James Harden is the real MVP.