Fear the Beard: A Case for James Harden to Win the MVP

Harden Hands Down!


Credits to Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Patrick Moore

For the 2020-2021 NBA season, James Harden deserves to win the MVP.  

The first reason Harden deserves to win the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award is his ability to win games for the Brooklyn Nets. Before Harden’s arrival, the Nets had a disappointing start to the season with a 7-6 record despite having star players such as Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Caris Levert, and Jarret Allen. The Nets traded for Harden on January 14, 2021, in exchange for three first-round draft picks, Jarret Allen, Caris Levert, and Tauren Prince (NBA). Since the acquisition of Harden, Brooklyn has blossomed—they’ve won seventeen times in their twenty-four games since the acquisition. In addition, the Nets and Harden are only getting hotter, as they have won nine of their last ten. At the All-Star Break, the Nets are 24-13 and are currently 0.5 games behind the Philadelphia 76ers for first place in the Eastern Conference (NBA). With the Nets superstars finally learning to “click,” there is no reason not to believe that the Nets and Harden will continue to win games. 

The second reason Harden should be the MVP is due to his undisputed impact on the game. Harden is currently averaging 25.5 points per game (PPG) and 11.4 assists per game (APG)*. Furthermore, he is shooting 49.7% from the field, 42.3% from behind the three-point line, and 85% from the free-throw line. Harden is incredibly close to being part of the legendary 50-40-90 club (shooting 50% from the field, 40% from three, and 90% from the free-throw line), which includes NBA legends such as Larry Bird, Steve Nash, Reggie Miller, and Stephen Curry. However, Harden is scoring his points at an incredibly efficient rate, which differs from Malcolm Brogdon, another member of the 50-40-90 club (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). Also, Harden’s overall game has improved tremendously, as he has developed his passing game to the next level. Harden leads the league in assists and is currently the only player to have more than 10 APG. On the Nets, Harden has averaged 11.4 APG, a whole 1.6 higher than runner-up Russel Westbrook. Critically, Harden’s overall efficiency on the offensive end has helped his team score, as the Nets are first in points scored per game, first in field goal percentage, and second in total assists. 

James Harden’s ability to win games for the Nets is best exemplified by the Nets’ recent hot streak, which was powered by James Harden’s addition to the team. Before Harden’s addition, the Nets were an average team, but they are currently the #2 seed Eastern Conference and only 0.5 games behind first place. Harden also contributes to his teams’ success with his strong PPG stats and his league-leading assists per game. If he continues to produce at this pace, Harden should be holding the MVP trophy in June.

* All statistics courtesy of ESPN