Houston Rockets guard James Harden made a brief case for his MVP chances in a sit-down interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, explaining:
“Look at all we’ve had to go through,” said Harden. “You put any other guy in the situation that I’ve been in and they probably wouldn’t be here in the same situation. We got a chance to be on that third seed in the West, which we all know how difficult that is.”
Sat down with James Harden and he got SUPER-real, SUPER-quick, talking about his scoring streak, the former players who've criticized him, his hopes for the Rockets the rest of the way – plus the work he's been putting in to make sure fatigue isn't a factor in the playoffs. pic.twitter.com/OfF4x3P7SL
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) February 19, 2019
The Rockets are now in fifth place, a game behind the Portland Trail Blazers and two away from the previously noted third place, held by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
At one point of the season, Houston was the 14th-best team in the West, followed only by the league-worst Phoenix Suns, who now boast a record of 11-48 at the break.
Harden carried the team 10 spots up, reaching as high as fourth place in a crowded Western Conference, thanks to his scoring heroics and poise down the stretch.
The Rockets’ health should only bolster his case from here on out, because if they can get closer to a top-two seed, he could certainly be a candidate to repeat as Most Valuable Player.
His main competition, Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, is in the midst of his best season and has a strong case himself after leading his team to the best overall mark in the NBA.
The Bucks have beaten the who’s who of the league, sporting wins over the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors, Golden State Warriors and even the Rockets on their own home court.
Oklahoma City Thunder star Paul George is also in the running, and other names like Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic are players who should get some recognition in the voting.