The NBA MVP race has gotten very interesting of late. Friday night, Nets superstar James Harden continued to make his case on the court.
He also made his case after the game.
Harden had a stellar game, dropping 44 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists in the Nets’ 113-111 win over the Pistons. Afterwards, he was asked if he belonged in the conversation for MVP this season.
“Do I feel like I belong in it? I feel like I am the MVP,” Harden said. "It’s just that simple. I don’t want to speak individually of myself, but I’m just going to leave it at that."
Strong words, but the man has a case.
Harden has been the Nets’ saving grace with Kevin Durant out of the lineup for the last several weeks with a hamstring injury. In the 18 games Durant has missed, Harden has averaged 28 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 11.4 assists, and the Nets are 15-3 over that span (Harden sat out Wednesday night’s loss to the Jazz because of neck soreness).
The Beard certainly belongs in the conversation for MVP, but Joel Embiid and others may have something to say about that.
Embiid was the frontrunner for the award for much of the season, until he went down with a bone bruise in his knee two weeks ago. LeBron James, who has also been on the short list to win MVP, suffered a high ankle sprain and will likely miss another month of action.
The Sixers big man can still take home the hardware if he returns to action soon. If not, in addition to Harden, Nuggets star Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Bucks will have plenty to fight for down the stretch.
We’re not ready to say just yet that Harden deserves the MVP. There’s plenty of season left, and his stats could take a hit when Durant returns from injury. For now, let’s put him at No. 4.