Countdown to NBA 2019: Most Valuable Player Candidates, #5

We’ve made it to the top-5! These MVP candidates are the ones most likely to earn a spot on the MVP ballot according to sportsbooks. Another former MVP lands on our list here at the #5 spot… it’s the guy know as “The Beard.”

#5 James Harden

James Harden has a very divisive play style. Either people love the fact that he scores in bunches, or hate the way he throws his body around to draw fouls. The fact of the matter is that Harden was last year’s MVP runner-up, the winner of the award the season before last, and the runner-up the year before that. So Harden either wins the award or gets 2nd place for it over the past 3 seasons, that’s established. Then why does he come in at #5 on our countdown? Well, that would be because of his new Rockets teammate this season. Russell Westbrook, the man that won the MVP over Harden in the 2016-2017 season, is the new running mate for Harden after Chris Paul was traded for the former MVP during the offseason. The duo briefly played together in OKC, back when Harden was winning 6th-Man of the Year awards, but they each have grown since then. Harden is no longer fine with playing 3rd fiddle to Westbrook and Kevin Durant… he has proven that he is an MVP talent. The former MVP also has the following on his resume: 2x Scoring Champion, 6x All NBA, and 7x All-Star. Harden was the 2nd most efficient player in the NBA last season with a PER of 30.62 (league average is 15.00). Normally, Harden would be among the top-2 in MVP voting; but, the addition of a similar player in new teammate Westbrook hurts his odds. The Beard likely won’t be scoring 36 points per game or hitting high marks such as 61(!) points in a game again this season.

Harden is currently at +800 (Bovada) to win the NBA MVP award. Do you think Harden will win the MVP? Let me know in the comments below!

-Mitchell Seefeldt

Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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