Around the Hill: Who is Your NBA MVP at the All-Star Break?

By Andy Fite, Maroon-News Staff

If the NBA MVP were decided today, James Harden would win the award and it wouldn’t even be close. In the first half of the 2017-2018 NBA season, The Beard is leading the league in numerous statistical categories and doing things on the basketball court we have never seen before, like recording the first 60-point triple-double in NBA history.  He leads the league in points per game (31.3), ranks second in assists per game (9.0) and continues to shoot nearly 40 percent from behind the arc while attempting over 10 three-point shots per game.

Most importantly, Harden is putting up these MVP-caliber numbers while leading the Rockets to the NBA’s best record of 44-13 heading into the All-Star break. Harden is not padding his stats in losses, as his strong play has led to sustained success for the Rockets who rank second in points per game (114.1) and first in point differential (+8.7). The Rockets are overachieving with some of their most important players dealing with significant injury problems. Chris Paul, who joined Houston this summer after being traded from the LA Clippers, has missed 16 games, Trevor Ariza has missed 13 games and Harden himself has missed seven games. Harden deserves credit for stepping up while many starters and role players were sidelined with injuries.

Unfortunately for Harden, the MVP award is not handed out at the All-Star break. While he is far and away the favorite to win the award, he needs ensure both his personal success as well as his team’s success continues to secure the honor. Other contenders, like LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, still have a few months to make the competition more interesting.

By Ben Polikoff, Maroon-News Staff

Often times people get the misconception that the most valuable player and the best player are the same. The pound for pound best player in NBA is Anthony Davis. Davis can do anything on the court. He can shoot, defend, protect the rim and throw it down like no one else. The guy is 6’10” and shoots over 35 percent from the arc while also averaging two blocks per game. However, he’s definitely not the most valuable player because he struggles to get his team wins.

“Who is the most valuable player?” you may ask. None other than who it should be every season: LeBron James. LeBron James is a once in a generation player. There’s absolutely nothing that he can’t do on the court. He can guard positions one through five, bang threes, shot block, post

up – the list goes on and on. What makes him so different from Davis is his ability to lead and bring his team together. LeBron is simultaneously a coach and player. He dictates the direction that the Cleveland Cavaliers go. Tyronn Lue, to me, is just a figurehead. Lue has no say in what goes on. This is LeBron’s team. Why shouldn’t this be LeBron’s team? The guy has been to the finals seven straight times and there is never the slightest bit of doubt that he would not be there. Yes, LeBron may not be the most talented player in league, but he’s definitely the most valuable due to his ability to make his teammates better through his leadership skills. You could put this guy on any team and they would make the finals easily.

By Jake Rosenstein, Maroon-News Staff

Just as nobody predicted before the season, the Golden State Warriors have entered the all-star break without the best record in the league. Although they still remain among the NBA’s elite, their tremendous rotational talent makes it impossible for Durant or Curry to be considered in this year’s MVP conversation. My pre-season prediction for MVP was Milwaukee all-star Giannis Antetokounmpo, though it seems that the middling Bucks franchise does not have the winning percentage or the league’s fearful recognition necessary to put the Greek Freak into serious consideration. Every year LeBron James comes up in conversation for the MVP, though this season is surely his most disappointing in recent memory and all but disqualifies him from this year’s award. Statistically, King James is sound upon his throne; but team chemistry issues, tough losses, and a midseason rebuild will prevent LeBron from earning his fifth Maurice Podoloff Trophy.

How the rest of this season shakes up will steer the conversation of MVP more than the current records in the east and west. A more team-oriented Russell Westbrook has not repeated his MVP efforts from last season. Russell Westbrook has led his team to a 33-26 record so far, but eyes are now focused on the contributions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony than Westbrook and his hero ball style of play. DeMar DeRozan from the first seed Raptors likely won’t win MVP, as coach Dwayne Casey and high level peripheral talent gets much of the credit for Toronto’s success. Experts have not given the Rockets the credit that they deserve as they enter the all-star break with the first seed in the west; and there is a bearded man entirely responsible for their success. Now, as for my airtight prediction for MVP of the 2017-2018 NBA season, read the first letter of each sentence.