LeBron James is again having one of those MVP-caliber seasons once again but with voter fatigue being a big factor in the final outcome, other equally deserving big name stars have taken advantage. Rockets’ guard James Harden is one of the leading contenders for the MVP award. James is averaging 26.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 7.3 assists, and 1.5 steals while Harden is putting up 27.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, 6.9 assists, and 1.9 steals per game. Here are ten reasons why LeBron deserves the MVP over Harden, despite their spectacular respective seasons.
10. Usage Rating
When both are on the floor, LeBron James enjoys a higher usage rating than James Harden with 33.9 as opposed to 30.9, that’s 3 notches between each other in the league rankings. The Cavaliers’ offense simply go through him more and it speaks highly of his responsibility and accountability to the team.
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9. Best Player of Best Team
Is James Harden the Houston Rockets’ best player? By a mile. Is LeBron James the Cleveland Cavaliers’ best player? Who would even ask that question. Is the Houston Rockets the best team in the NBA? By far, NO. Is the Cleveland Cavaliers the best team in the NBA? Yes. The Cavaliers’ record isn’t league best but the poor start is now a thing of the past and the team has been the best in the league since making things turn around. Cleveland has earned their fair share of quality wins and one of them is when they convincingly beat a complete Golden State Warriors squad who holds the league’s best record.
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8. The Defensive Force
James Harden has been an enigma on the defensive end throughout the years. He has produced solid steals and blocks numbers but still finds himself the butt of jokes, what with his fair share of mental breakdowns on defense. While LeBron James was toughened up in the Mike Brown school of defense which has led to 5 NBA All Defensive First Team and 1 Second Team selections. He not only produces the numbers and keeps a heady disposition on the defensive end but he also preaches the art and takes it upon himself to set an example for his teammates.
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7. Ability to Make Others Better
James Harden posts big numbers in the assists department but LeBron James not only has a similar amount of dimes but he has also admitted that passing the ball and seeing his teammates succeed gives him the most pleasure. He also has the track record to prove it, as he has gotten the most out of the likes of Drew Gooden, Daniel Gibson, and an old Mike Miller to name a few. What this skill does for LeBron is it eases some pressure off him, enabling him to turn it up when needed the most. Outside the stats, his extremely high court acumen also allows him to act as a mentor to his teammates during games and on the practice floor.
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6. Basketball IQ
They say experience is the best teacher and this applies perfectly to LeBron James. He`s been through a lot and has seen all kinds of defense thrown at him. He knows how to react to every situation and he always look to make the right basketball play, instead of playing too much hero ball. LeBron is an excellent extension of the coach on the floor and his superb photographic memory helps a lot in guiding his teammates and seeing plays and situations on the court before they even happen.
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5. Capacity to Dominate
Both LeBron James and James Harden are superb offensive players who can light it up whenever they want while offering other goodies. However, what separates James from Harden in this conversation is the former’s ability to dominate on both ends. He can break a single player apart, giving nightmares to whoever is guarding him, and he can also shut down that same player on offense making it one very unforgettably forgettable night for that unfortunate opposing player. This is all about dominance on both ends and LeBron James is notches above James Harden in this regard.
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4. Cleveland relies on James than Houston does on Harden
LeBron James dictates where the Cleveland Cavaliers go. He appeared to be coasting in the early part of the season and the team likely suffered a disappointing start. After taking some time to rest his body, James came back as strong as ever turning the Cavs into one of the NBA’s best, if not the best, teams. He does have high profile teammates in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love and also new additions in Mozgov, Smith, and Shumpert but The King is still the one who wields his scepter for the rest of the Cavaliers to follow. Take him out of the equation and the team goes out of sync.
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3. LeBron’s Momentum
Season-long brilliance is an important factor in the MVP race but players sometimes tend to start slow before eventually turning the corner as the season goes old. LeBron has been on an absolute tear since returning from an 8-game rest and the Cavaliers’ record during that stretch tells a lot about Bronny. The gap might not be overwhelming yet but at the rate LeBron is going right now, he might clear the smoke himself with his momentum alone. The most promising thing about all these is that he’s showing no signs of slowing down.
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2. Better Win-Loss Record
Hold it! Before emphatically pointing out the obvious to me, let me clarify what I said. I meant that the Cavaliers are bound to have a better win-loss slate than the Rockets. This is just me but both teams aren’t that far off from each other and Cleveland is simply steamrolling through the opposition lately, which puts them in a great position to have a better win-loss record than Houston by the end of the regular season.
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1. LeBron Just Does More On Court
Despite the statistics slightly favoring James Harden, LeBron James has proven time and again that even without gaudy numbers, he’s still able to impact the game in other areas. He’s not just an attacker but also an influencer. He will make sure that everybody’s getting their rhythm. He will not allow defensive lapses. The fact that he’s able to guard multiple positions makes him more able to shut down the opposing team’s most potent offensive threat. Depending on how the game goes, Lebron can shift from being a perimeter threat to a penetrator, putting increased pressure on the defense all while still being a lethal playmaker. Lebron’s adaptability, his skill in reading the flow of the game, and his ability to influence its myriad facets both in offense and in defense makes him an infinitely more dangerous player when compared to Harden’s strictly offensive impact on the court.