James Harden is the consensus choice for the 2017-18 Most Valuable Player Award. He checks all the boxes.
- 30.9 PPG, 8.7 assists, 5.2 rebounds.
The average statistics shared by the previous nine MVPs:
- 28.3 ppg, 7.5 assists, 7.8 rebounds.
Best player on the best team? Check again!
- The Houston Rockets are currently 54-14, three games ahead of the Golden State Warriors with just 14 games remaining and they own that tie-breaker.
A history of being snubbed? Check it one more time!
- In addition to the theft that took place last year following Russell Westbrook’s spectacular triple-double season, Harden had every right to the crown in 2015-16 when it was awarded to Stephen Curry.
So what makes anyone believe the case has not already been closed on this season?
A Pelicans’ truther can argue that the Pelicans and Anthony Davis have done more with less, continued afloat without their early season MVP candidate, DeMarcus Cousins, and put up numbers in March that have never been matched before, ever!
But one month does not a season make.
An Anthony Davis supporter can likewise suggest that there is a history of rewarding players outside of the top three seeds. Look back just one calendar year, as the sixth seeded Oklahoma City Thunder, at just 47-35, carried a future MVP in their ranks. Kareem Abdul Jabbar won the title back in 1975-76 when the Los Angeles Lakers finished with a 40-42 record. Moses Malone won the award when the Houston Rockets were a fourth seed in 1978-79 and then sported the sixth best record in the Western Conference in 1981-82.
Admittedly, these seasons are outliers, not the norms.
If you reeeeeeeally want to reach, you can point to Davis’ age. The average age of the MVP in the past ten seasons has been just over 26, while Harden finds himself closer to 29. Like I said, it’s a reach.
But the one wild card Anthony carries in this contest, that can’t be analyzed, quantified or qualified, is emotion.
The MVP panel is made up of 100 flesh and blood writers, just like you and me, and crave a feel good story just as much as you or I. The Pelicans have faced odds the Rockets could not even stomach this season. Will CP3 and Harden coexist is hardly the test Anthony Davis and the Pelicans have faced:
- When will this team, destined to fail, finally break apart?
- Not one national writer predicted the Pelicans could finish above a seventh seed and that was WITH Boogie. Imagine what they would have suggested had they known he would only play half the season?!
- At this point of the season, the Pelicans cling for dear life onto the sixth spot in the West.
To truly enter the conversation, Davis will likely need three things: A fourth-seeded finish or better, a first round victory in the playoffs, and some splashy performances on the national stage.
Enter James Harden and the Houston Rockets.
If Anthony Davis is to win the MVP, we must bear witness to a big step forward in his campaign tonight against a seemingly unstoppable juggernaut that has won 20 of 21 games. The Rockets boast an unrelenting force in CP3/Harden/Capela, and a former Pel in Eric Gordon, who is averaging 48% on eight three point attempts per game since returning from his flu-like symptoms eight games ago.
No one is picking the Pelicans to win this one. They’d be crazy to. The Pels are outmatched, and the emotion of Boogie’s injury under these exact circumstances will hover over them all night long, as will the threat of four more games in the next five nights.
Can Anthony overcome those odds, and once again put up a display the likes of which we have never seen? It will likely take something north of his February averages of 35, 13, 2.5 and 2.2 to do it, and if he should, the conversation could inevitably turn from, “James Harden, the inevitable MVP,” to “Could James Harden lose out on the MVP yet again?!”
Geaux Anthony Davis, and more importantly, geaux Pels!