Harden's triple-double helps Rockets over Wolves 123-118

Harden's triple-double helps Rockets over Wolves 123-118

The Oklahoma City star is resting for the game on Tuesday night in Minnesota, the first time this season he has missed a game. For those who will be voting, they will have a lot of freedom to choose a candidate.

On a night-to-night basis in the regular season, the player James Harden was this year would give your league-average team the best chance to win.

According to the latest KIA MVP Ladder, Russell Westbrook has the edge over James Harden because of his historic season. Each has done plenty to solidify themselves at the top of many analysts lists, and they are nearly equally likely to win.

Westbrook's accomplishment makes him the odds-on favorite to win this year's Most Valuable Player award.

Following Kevin Durant's abrupt departure from Oklahoma City, Westbrook has carried himself with an edge unlike any player in the league.

Westbrook broke Robertson's single-season record for triple-doubles by getting his 42nd on Sunday against Denver.

Harden is setting career highs in points (29.1) and rebounds (8.1) per game while leading the league in assists (11.2, career high) for the Houston Rockets.

No one-including Westbrook-did more with less. The game was tied at 116-116 with 1:49 to go.

Westbrook scores more points, but Harden is a more valuable scorer than Westbrook. Mike D'Antoni has given the keys, the house and just about the whole city of Houston to James Harden, and that's been a flawless marriage with the analytical approach of their organization. Morey linked statistics saying Harden joined Robertson as the only players to total 2000 points, 750 assists, and 500 rebounds in a season.

Harden is having an fantastic season for Mike Dantoni and the Rockets, but when that offense is clicking, the point guard should put up incredible stats.

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With little certainty as to whom the panel is leaning towards amongst the two candidates, the race is entirely up for grabs. Players who inspire a media narrative around doing something unexpected have an advantage, and that's where Leonard's MVP case is weak. But Harden's combination of winning, carrying a flawed roster and executing an all-time great offense to perfection tops a rare statistical feat by Westbrook. Just ask the aforementioned Big O. When he averaged a triple-double for the 1961-62 NBA season, that was only good enough for third place in the NBA MVP voting.

"He's played 80 games".

As you may have heard, Westbrook will end the season awash in history. Russell Westbrook has been extremely productive despite the system he plays in.

Rockets: Face the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday in their final road game of the regular season. His assists generate 27.3 points per game, higher than anyone else in the league by two full points.

On balance, then, it looks as though this season's MVP award is Harden's to lose.

Kawhi Leonard is awesome, and so are Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, but this series just does not scream excitement. Still, his defense is next-level bad, and that disqualifies him this year from the MVP discussion. Depending on what the panel bases their vote off of, James could easily be squeezed into the MVP conversation.

D'Antoni took an underachieving and somewhat dysfunctional Rockets team of a year ago and turned them into an offensively dominant squad that finished third in the Western Conference.

In fact, Robinson's 1993-94 campaign made him one of six players to post double-digit marks in both VORP and BPM in a single season, and he is the only center in National Basketball Association history to maintain a BPM in excess of 10 while using at least 30 percent of possessions. If James were traded to another team, his new team would become an immediate championship contender.

Meanwhile, James' Cavaliers have continued to struggle post All-Star break, Harden's efficiency has dipped and Leonard has remained, well, Leonard. James hasn't played in a Game 6 in a first-round series since 2008. This should be capped off with an MVP trophy added to his collection as well.