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Revisiting NBA Awards 2018: Why LeBron James and not James Harden should have been the MVP

Achyut Dubey
ANALYST
Feature
270   //    23 Jun 2019, 19:20 IST

Even at 34, LeBron is still playing his best basketball ever.
Even at 34, LeBron is still playing his best basketball ever.

The 2017-18 season tipped off in the backdrop of the Cavaliers losing to the Warriors in the Finals, followed by Kyrie Irving jumping ship to join the Celtics. James knew it wouldn't be easy but that didn't deter from rising to the occasion in a way that solidified his bid of being the basketball player in the world.

It has forever been debated as to why the MVP award doesn't take into consideration the playoff performances of players. Well, there'd be no competition if the league decides to factor in the beast that is Playoff LeBron while deciding whom to give the trophy to. The King averaged a mammoth 34 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists per game during the postseason of 2018, willing his squad all the way to the NBA Finals singlehandedly.

Let's try and recall his stellar performance during the 2018-19 regular season and his MVP bid.


#1 LeBron had all round numbers to support his case

LeBron James ---------------------------------------------- James Harden
LeBron James ---------------------------------------------- James Harden

Harden is arguably the best scorer this game has ever seen. But the game of basketball incorporates so much more than just getting buckets.

In what was the first 82-game regular season of his career, LeBron averaged 27.5 points(highest since 2010), 8.6 rebounds and 9.1 assists per game, shooting a near-career-high 54% from the field while doing so. On the other hand, Harden played in 10 fewer games and shot just 44% from the floor, to average 30.4 ppg on the season. LeBron was clearly the more complete player on the basketball court that year and deserved to be rewarded for it.


#2 He had to carry an injury prone and inexperienced Cavs side all season long

The Cavaliers had no business entering the playoffs as the 4th seed in the East.
The Cavaliers had no business entering the playoffs as the 4th seed in the East.

While Harden had veteran talents in Chris Paul and Eric Gordon by his side at all times, LeBron was rebuilding the roster from the ground up, midway through the season. Except from Kevin Love (who averaged 17.4 ppg in 59 games) there really wasn't much offensive production on the roster all year along.

The notable growth of quality scorers meant The King had to take matters into his own hands at more occasions than not. Leading such a refurbished team to a 50-32 win-loss record was no joke, but LeBron handled the pressure with poise and class. He did everything he could to make sure Cleveland bagged a postseason berth as a respectable 4th seed.

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#3 LeBron was the one true leader that Harden could never be.

LeBron's leadership qualities have been under the microscope since the day he set foot on an NBA court back in 2003. And time and again, the man doesn't fail to deliver in extraordinary fashion with his back against the wall.

The 2018-19 regular season was no different.

He was handed a team that would've probably not made it to the playoffs in the first place, had it not been for LeBron's superintendence. He exhibited unflinching character throughout the gruelling process and came through with flying colours, something Harden was far from accomplishing.

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