There is no doubt that James Harden should be the frontrunner in this season’s MVP race. Not only has his game improved dramatically, but he’s carried the Houston Rockets into contention.
The performance of the Houston Rockets has changed dramatically from last season. The Rockets looked like a dysfunctional team and franchise. There were rumors of conflict between James Harden and Dwight Howard. Their team did not appear to have any chemistry.
And to top it all of, the Rockets fired head coach Kevin McHale after 15 games last season. Based off of their performance last season, the Rockets seemed to be going downhill.
But this season marked a dramatic change for the Rockets. And the cause of it is the improvement of James Harden. Those circumstances that Harden endured last season have seemed to make him ready to dominate this season.
Averaging 27.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, 11.9 assists, James Harden can already be declared this season’s MVP.
And it all started when the Rockets made Harden their point guard. In fact, the new leadership of the Rockets has benefited Harden. He and Mike D’Antoni appear to have a close relationship. D’Antoni seems to trusts Harden.
When Mike D’Antoni announced to the basketball community that Harden will take on the role of being the Rockets’ full-time point guard, the basketball community was left astounded. But D’Antoni knew that Harden would be ready for the challenge, and the surprising move worked.
In his debut as a point guard, Harden racked in 34 points and 17 assists (a career-high). He was only one rebound shy of a triple-double. He is also second best in triple doubles this season with six, trailing only former teammate Russell Westbrook‘s 14.
Ever since then, Harden has not only revolutionized the face of an NBA point guard, but his success has been one of the biggest highlights of this season. Leading the league in assists, Harden has proved himself to be among the best facilitators in the league.
Harden even has the confidence to go along with his skills. In an interview with Michael Lee of The Vertical, Harden informed him that he is the best in the league:
“Best point guard or best player?” Harden responded when asked.
“I am,” Harden told The Vertical.
Harden’s only shortcoming has been his lack of defense, which has been a constant problem for him. He has improved his defense minimally.
Last season, opponents had a field goal percentage of 46.8 when defended by him. This season they are scoring just a percentage fewer. So, Harden’s defense has only improved a little bit since last season in terms of defense.
But his offensive improvements have nearly shattered and silenced the critics on his defense.
“I thrive on scoring the basketball and creating shots for my teammates”, said Harden. I go into every game doing what it takes to win, whether it’s assists, whether it’s scoring, rebounding, whatever it is. [D’Antoni] puts a lot of trust in me, and my teammates do as well.”
Harden has led his team to being the third best in the West, and he has given Rockets fans something to finally be happy for. The only competition that Harden has in his effort to be this season’s MVP is Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook, who is averaging a triple-double.