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Nets’ James Harden barges into MVP race with Player of the Month win

James Harden, Nets, MVP

James Harden is back in the MVP race. The Brooklyn Nets superstar forced himself into the discussion after his ridiculous month of February, for which he deservedly earned Eastern Conference Player of the Month honors.

The 2018 NBA MVP was sparkling throughout Brooklyn’s 13 games in February and provided a huge spark for Steve Nash’s squad. Harden averaged 25.6 points, 10.7 assists, and 8.8 rebounds per game, on .491/.429/.847 shooting splits.

More importantly, the Nets went 9-4 in February, vaulting Steve Nash’s squad to second place in the East standings, at 23-13.

Overall, Harden is putting up 25.3 PPG, 11.3 APG, and 8.7 RPG in 22 games with Brooklyn since forcing a trade from the Houston Rockets. His season average of 11 dimes per game leads the NBA.

Beyond his individual production, Harden’s MVP case is strengthened by the prolonged absence of Kevin Durant, who missed all but three games in February and remains out through the All-Star break with a hamstring injury.

Harden has been buoyed by the stellar play of Kyrie Irving, too, who averaged 27.1 PPG and 5.9 APG on .500/.395/.833 splits last month.

Phoenix Suns All-Star Devin Booker earned Player of the Month honors for the Western Conference after posting 27.9 PPG on 52.3 percent shooting in February, leading his team to a 12-3 record.

Harden has carried his MVP-caliber play into March. He posted 30 points, 15 assists, and 14 rebounds in Brooklyn’s 124-113 overtime victory against the San Antonio Spurs on Monday, becoming the first player to record a 30/15/10 triple-double without a turnover since the turnover stat began being tracked in 1977-78, per ESPN (via Elias).

“When James is being James, it makes our job a lot easier,” Irving said after the game. “And so we got to get used to somebody special like that, things like that in terms of breaking records. So, I can’t wait to be right alongside of him, my name in Nets history — and all the guys on our team where we’re just breaking records as a team, and then individually we’re stacking up with some of the best to ever play.”

“We have to implement the phrase ‘get used to it,'” Irving added.

If Harden and the Nets keep this up sans Durant, MVP voters may have no choice but to consider the Beard.