By: Glen Ivol
There's just 6 weeks remaining on the docket for NBA teams. This is the time when real stars shine, especially in the MVP race. Around this time last year James Harden was in front of Russell Westbrook in many voter’s eyes, but Russ went on a tear that included the Triple-Double record, crazy stat lines, and a couple of long game-winners. Those moments stuck out more than James Harden’s continued dominance throughout the season – something that he is doing once again – leading to Westbrook getting the award. How's the race looking this year? Let’s jump in:
1. James Harden, Houston Rockets
Harden is averaging 31.3 points, 9.0 assists, and 5.2 rebounds and has helped lead the Rockets to TWO separate 14 game or more winning streaks this season. Harden isn’t always seen on flashy highlight tapes (but man did he murder Wesley Johnson last week), but the brilliance of his consistency that has pushed the Rockets to stay above the Warriors for the one seed out west. As mentioned with two 14 game winning steaks, Harden has been seemingly unstoppable on the current one. He has games of 60 points, 41 points, six times over 30 points and only once under 25 points. The Rockets look unstoppable right now, as shown by their 31-1 record when Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela all play in the lineup. So much for there only being one basketball in Houston.
2. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
Davis had himself a month in February, earning Western Conference Player of the Month honors while averaging 35 points, 13 rebound, 2.5 steals, 2.2 blocks and 1.5 assists per game. His play and the Pelicans going on a seven-game win streak has thrown Davis squarely into the mix of the MVP race. Boogie went down and the Pelicans lost five of the next six, but Davis has taken off over the last month and pushed the team all the way up to fifth in the crowded Western Conference standings, staring up at the Spurs for possible home court advantage. They were teetering on the edge of the playoffs with Boogie, but now? Davis has them rolling look like a team no one wants to deal with over the course of seven games.
3. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
It wouldn’t be an MVP discussion without mentioning James, who is putting up 26.7 points, 9.0 assists, and 8.4 rebounds. He continues to rack up career milestone after career milestone, (i.e. first to have 30,000 points, 8,000 rebounds and 8,000 assists) and just averaged a triple-double for the month of February. However, team play and the Cavaliers narrative continues to hold him back this season. If the team can keep its trade deadline turn it going and LeBron continues to dominate, he may just force himself back into the center of the conversation.
4/5. Kevin Durant & Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors
Durant and Curry are both having spectacular seasons again, but they just don't jump off the page. Durant is averaging 26 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists compared to Curry's 26 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists. To have two players putting up numbers like that and have four all-stars on the rosters and to not be able to run away from the Rockets? That just proves how well Harden is doing in Houston. This is the first time the Warriors have had this real of a challenger and we'll see in the coming weeks if Durant and Curry value the one seed as much as they should.
Other Names to Mention: Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards), Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers), Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers), DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors), Kyrie Irving (Boston Celtics)
*All stats courtesy of nba.com
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