Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan lauded James Harden's chances to get the most respected award of the season, noting that the Houston Rockets star “should have been MVP” last season and has eliminated any doubt that he is to garner the award this year, according to ESPN's Tim MacMahon.
“He's earned it,” said DeRozan. “The things he's doing are incredible. He should be a lock.”
“He's been unbelievable. The entire season.”
Harden has been runner-up for the award in two consecutive seasons and in the race for the last three, losing to Stephen Curry twice in a row, and then to Russell Westbrook last season.
The last two seasons have been a narrow miss for The Beard, given the historical importance of Curry having a 50/45/90 season in 2015-16, where he led the league in scoring and had the team with the best record ever in the league, while Westbrook's triple-double season was the first since Oscar Robertson did so 55 years prior — giving him very little shot to win out.
This time around, Harden has put winning and incredible numbers together, making him the indisputable frontrunner for the race and one that is likely to run away with it, the same way his Rockets have raced to a 17-game win streak.
Harden's league-leading 30.9 points, 8.9 assists, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.9 steals per game are plenty of supporting evidence to merit the award, along with his Rockets' 51 wins (only four shy of last year's total).
Houston has seen a major improvement since last season and a lot of it falls on Harden's adaptability to a system that was tailor-made for him and his ability to light it up on a nightly basis.