Playing with contrasting styles on both ends, Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden are now in a two-way race for this season’s NBA MVP award.
With Antetokounmpo leading the way, the Bucks are now at the top of the NBA standings with a 57-19 record. On the other hand, after a dismal start of the season, reigning MVP James Harden is towing the Rockets in the midst of a tough Western Conference.
With both of these superstars making a strong push for the award, FOX Sports Philippines examines on each candidate.
The case for James Harden
Averaging 36.2 points per game, the reigning MVP has posted the highest point average in the league since the 1987 season, where Michael Jordan notched 37.1.
Harden possesses a lethal offensive arsenal to say the least — from his stepback treys, forays to the basket, and his passing ability — he can certainly do it all. Add along to the guard-friendly system Coach Mike D’Antoni has put into place, Harden has been putting up historic numbers ever since.
Having to deal with injuries to some of his key teammates, particularly with fellow star Chris Paul, ‘The Beard’ has put the Rockets on his back. At one point, Harden scored at least 30 markers in 32 straight games, averaging 41.1 points per game in that stretch on 44.1-percent overall shooting.
Pundits may critique his defense or high-usage, high-volume shot making, but without his efforts, who knows where the Rockets are right now.
The case for Giannis Antetokounmpo
Much of Milwaukee’s success this season can be attributed to Antetokounmpo’s leap to stardom. With averages of 27.4 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game, the ‘Greek Freak’ has undoubtedly became the best player of the best team this 2019 season. The former lottery pick became just the second player in NBA history to tally norms of at least 27 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists per game since Oscar Robertson in the 1962 season.
Not only is his presence felt on offense, Antetokounmpo does it as well on the defensive side of the floor very well, especially since he’s averaged 1.3 steals and 1.5 blocks per contest so far. His combination of length and athleticism made him into one of the league’s fearsome defenders, and he’s one of the favorites to possibly take home the Defensive Player of the Year award.
With all of these gifts rolled into one, ‘The Greek Freak’ has emerged as the Eastern Conference’s best player. He didn’t have to carry the load as much as Harden’s, but he has brought the Bucks higher and faster than expected, which will definitely be looked at by the voters.
Overall, it’s hard to choose between who’s the better between these two superstars. However, with the MVP award being usually defined as the best player of the best team, Giannis Antetokounmpo gets my nod here.