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Thursday, January 23, 2020

James Harden believes ‘winning’ is most important in MVP race

Russell Westbrook set an NBA record with his 42nd triple-double in Sunday’s win over the Denver Nuggets, and the Oklahoma City Thunder star likely has a slight lead over James Harden in the MVP race because of it. Does Harden think that’s fair?

Harden, who recorded his own 21st triple-double in a win over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday, was asked by a reporter if he believes wins should be taken into account with MVP voting.

“I think that’s the most important thing. I thought winning is what this is about — period,” the Houston Rockets star said, via Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com. “I’m not going to get in-depth with all that, but I thought winning was the most important thing. If you set your team up in a position to have a chance, at the ultimate goal, that’s the most important thing.”

While it may sound like Harden was trying to strengthen his own campaign, it should be noted that he was responding directly to a question. Harden is averaging 29.3 points, 11.3 assists and 8.1 rebounds per game. Westbrook is averaging 31.9 points, 10.4 assists and 10.7 rebounds. Harden is not trying to take anything away from his friend.

“It’s a huge accomplishment,” Harden said of Westbrook triple-double record. “He’s been playing extremely well all season long, it’s never been done before, it’s a great individual accomplishment, and it’s great.”

If you want to take team records into consideration, the Rockets are locked into the third-best record in the Western Conference at 54-26. The Thunder are the No. 6 seed with a record of 46-34.

Based on a tweet he sent Sunday, you know Rockets GM Darryl Morey believes wins should be a contributing factor in MVP voting. While his and Harden’s opinions on the MVP race are almost certainly self-serving, you can understand their point. Still, it’s almost impossible to ignore the eye-popping numbers Westbrook has put up. He’s the front-runner.



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