There are different interpretations to the word MVP. Some people believe that the MVP award should go to the player who single-handedly carries his team— the player “most valuable” for his team, so to speak. Others believe that the best player on the best team in the NBA should get MVP honours since he is the biggest reason behind the team’s success. We have, in Steph Curry and James Harden, perfect examples of these two schools of thought. Here are some arguments for and against the top 2 candidates in the MVP discussion-
James Harden has had a great season, averaging career highs in scoring, assists and rebounds. He has even stepped up his defense, which was the biggest criticism against him in past seasons. Despite the Rockets being hit by the injury bug— with star center Dwight Howard, starting PG Patrick Beverley and back-up center Donatas Motiejunas all going down at some point of time— James Harden has carried his team on his back almost single-handedly, leading the undermanned Rockets to the 2nd seed in the loaded Western Conference. Harden has great handles, a sweet outside stroke, a crazy euro-step and an ability to get to the free-throw line that is almost unmatched. That is also where he is drawing a lot of flak. Harden gets to the line more often than any other player in the league and critics believe this tactic will fail him in the playoffs where the game is slower and a lot more physical. And even though he has improved on the defensive end, he is still below par compared to the league’s other superstars like Russell Westbrook, Lebron James, Kobe Bryant etc.
Steph too is having himself quite a year. He finished 3rd in steals, 6th in scoring and created history by breaking his own record for 3’s made in a season. All this while being the best player on the best team in the NBA. He has undoubtedly been the driving force behind the Warriors’ historic season. While some may argue that James Harden has been superior in terms of stats, that is only because the Warriors are so good that Steph has sat out the entire 4th quarter on more than 12 occasions. His stats would have been significantly better had he remained on the floor during that period. Curry has great court vision, dazzling dribble moves and is already considered one of the greatest shooters of all time. Despite his wiry frame, he still manages to finish at the rim and draw fouls. And by the way, he led the league in free throw percentage too. He also has a unique ability to make the game seem so effortless which makes him one of the most entertaining player to watch in the NBA. Despite all his attributes, he is often criticized for taking too many threes. Fingers have also been pointed at his inability to stay fit, due to multiple ankle injuries in the past (though this year he has remained perfectly healthy).
James Harden has carried his team all year but he doesn’t defend well. But does one HAVE to be an elite defender to be an MVP? Dirk Nowitzki has won MVP and his defensive abilities are average at best. Steph Curry is the engine that drives the Warriors but he takes too many threes. But having made more threes in a season than anyone in NBA history, hasn’t he earned the right to launch away from 30 feet? It all boils down to how you define the word “Most Valuable Player”. Steph is my pick. Who’s yours?