Houston Rockets’ guard James Harden favored by ESPN to win MVP
With one month down in the NBA regular season, the ESPN Forecast panel of experts has selected James Harden as the favorite to win this year’s Most Valuable Player award.
Harden topped the poll with 36.8 percent of the votes, a good distance ahead of second-place Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, who had 23.7 percent of the votes. LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving rounded out the top five.
Harden is having an absolutely spectacular start to season. He’s currently leading the NBA in both points (31.8) and assists (10.1) while his 12-4 Rockets are a half-game above the Golden State Warriors for the best record in the Western Conference.
After two previous second-place finishes behind Stephen Curry in 2015 and Russell Westbrook last season, this season is shaping up to be Harden’s year.
Harden has the combination of statistical brilliance and team success that no other candidate can match at the moment. Antetokounmpo and James might finish with great numbers but their teams likely won’t sniff the Rockets in wins. Meanwhile, Durant and Irving could have a case with their win totals but they will need to come up with truly outstanding stats to match Harden’s current output.
It will be interesting to see later in the year whether Harden will opt to go hard for the MVP over resting more to avoid another postseason burnout. But if he more or less maintains his current pace, the award looks like it’s the Beard’s to lose.