Houston Rockets star James Harden scored a career-high 50 points against the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night, and ‘the Beard’ is taking a lead in the MVP race.
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The competition is still tough, and Harden will be in a close battle with three other players for the award come the end of the regular season in just under a month’s time.
Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry has been considered the front-runner for some time, not only due to his individual brilliance this year, but also because his team sit at the top of the Western Conference with the best record in the league at 54-13.
Curry has been instrumental in that run and is averaging 23.4 points, 7.9 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game, and if the Warriors end the season playing the way that they have done so far, it would be difficult not to pick their star player for the MVP award.
However, the race has certainly become more interesting over the last few months as not only does Anthony Davis deserve recognition, but Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook has emerged as a triple-double machine in the absence of Kevin Durant.
Westbrook now has eight triple-doubles for the season and is averaging 27.6 points, 8.4 assists and 7.2 rebounds per game. Those numbers are sensational to say the least, and they have come at a time when his team has needed him most with the reigning MVP sidelined by injury.
Nevertheless, Davis has also been impressive for a New Orleans Pelicans team pushing to oust Westbrook and Co. for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. AD is averaging 24.6 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.9 blocks this season, and given he is just 22 years of age, his development is terrifying.
LeBron James can also be included in the conversation, but these three players have done so much this season and by the Cleveland Cavaliers star’s own high standards, he hasn’t been as special as in previous years consistently across the season.
Then we have Harden, fresh from his 50-point game in the win over the Nuggets and now averaging 27.1 points, 7.0 assists and 5.9 rebounds per game.
What makes his achievement all the more impressive, is that he has lifted the Rockets to 46-22 which is good enough for third place in the West, without the help of Dwight Howard.
The Houston center has been absent for a significant period of time due to a knee problem, but even in his absence the Rockets are still the third best team in the competitive West.
The MVP award is handed to the player who has the most value in his team, and it is difficult to argue against Harden being the most valuable player on any team this season and he continues to get better.