James Harden seemed like the run away favorite for the MVP all season, but lets take a look at why that’s simply incorrect.
Preface: Not all of my blogs will be this long… And this is not about LeBron signing with the Lakers, that would be dumb.
Frankly, I think LBJ signing with the Lakers is a non-story, we all saw it coming. There were no other real options for him, regardless of what the media tried to say. Sure, there were possibilities that were fun to talk about but LA was the top landing spot the entire time and it wasn’t close. He proved that by signing a relatively long term deal, by his standards, even with no other key free agents or trade prospects (Kawhi Leonard) being acquired, yet.
With that being said, and in light of James Harden winning the NBA MVP award this past week, we have to talk about this past season and why LeBron was the ACTUAL MVP of it. Since his 2nd season in the NBA, LeBron has been widely regarded as the best player in the NBA without question and this season was no exception. It’s strange how we have made it except-able to regard LeBron as the best player in the world, and still totally dismiss the FACT that he deserves MVP every season. Now, if you tell me, “yes Connor, he should’ve won it but it’s just too boring to give it to him every single season,” I would understand that argument. However, if you told me, “No, LBJ doesn’t deserve it ’cause James Harden was the best and most valuable player this season,” I would have no choice but simply to shut you down right there and bury you with my following argument.
There is an age old argument of what the being the MVP actually means. Are you the most valuable player to your team, the guy who puts up the most impressive numbers, or the guy who is the most fun to watch. There is one thing that is for certain, without Lebron, the Cavs would NOT have been a playoff team and easily could have been a lottery team. That roster was TRASH. Yes, capital T-R-A-S-H, trash. Might as well have put your high school principle on that team and dressed him up in a uniform, he could have made more of an impact. Anyway, take Harden off of the Rockets and they still have a great floor general in Chris Paul and really good pieces to work with otherwise. Now lets look at the numbers… Everyone is obsessed with the the most polarizing stat, Points Per Game, and that’s fine, but lets add some context before you tell me that that’s all that matters because that’s blatantly incorrect. In the 2017-2018 season, LBJ averaged 27.5 PPG, 9.1 AST, and 8.6 RBS. James Harden averaged 30.4 PPG, 8.8 AST, and 5.4 RBS. By looking at that, the common man would say, “Oh case closed, you bum, Harden was the MVP because he averaged more points.” To that I would say, let’s go into some detail and I’ll explain to you why you’re the bum and entirely wrong. Often times, we forget the key element to any compelling stat, the efficiency within that stat. Sure, Harden averaged 30.4 points, but he did that at 44.9% shooting. On the other hand, LeBron shot nearly 10% better than that at 54.2% while averaging his 27.5 PPG. “What does that mean, Connor?” I’m so glad you asked. It means that Harden missed shots that he took more often than LeBron did… And with the rockets being the 24th best offensive rebounding team in the league, it’s safe to say that a majority of those missed shots wound up in the opposing teams hands. Conversely LeBron was historically efficient this season and by taking fewer ill-advised shots, it gave his team an opportunity to not waste possessions -although, Lord knows that his laughable supporting cast, who would’ve rather been at home smoking weed and playing Fortnite, were doing everything they could to absolutely embarrass themselves. The point of all of this is that by not wasting possessions with missed shots, LeBron actually created opportunity for points for his team.
So now that we’ve cleared up the details on the points aspect of the argument, we can now move onto the rest of it. If you want to stop reading now, I completely understand because it’s a very one sided argument the rest of the way. However, I’ll give you perspective and reasoning on all of my next points. Also, if you disagree with any of this blog, @ me, but you may not like it when I have to lay you back down in your crib… Now, onto my next point. LeBron is the better passer and even though the numbers were close for both of the players, LBJ averaged more assists with the teammates that he had (we’ve already touched on them I think) and had a better assist to turnover ratio. That part of the conversation is pretty clear cut. I hardly even want to talk about rebounding because it’s not close in the averages department, but I guess I will briefly. Harden is a 6′-5″ guard who is rarely the tallest guy on the court for his team, it’s not too important for him to get rebounds because there are guys out there on his team that are meant for that. But when looking at LeBron, standing at 6′-9″, he was often the tallest guy on the court for his team, they needed him to rebound, which added another element to how valuable he was to the Cavs. LeBron had to do everything, he played every single game while Harden sat out 10. When LBJ sat out games in 2017, the media made it seem like he had disgraced the league and it was a huge knock on his MVP campaign. Truth is that if LeBron sat out any games this season, the Cavs may have just had to forfeit that night. That’s the sort of impact he had on that team. With all of that being said, Harden was more deserving this season than anyone else has been in the last 14 seasons to beat out LeBron for the NBAs Most Valuable Player. They both had great years but lets not get it twisted, LeBron is the greatest basketball player on the planet, by the numbers, by the eye test, and by how valuable he is to the team he’s playing for.
This was my inaugural blog, if you liked it follow Complete Game Sports. If you hated it, also follow Complete Game Sports. I have my opinions just like you have yours and I think sports are fun to talk about so clap back if you don’t like my opinion. I will admit when I’m wrong when someone proves it to me. Lastly, I don’t have an editor so if I messed up in any spots with spelling or grammar, I don’t care and I’ll probably just blame it on autocorrect or something.