James Harden Wins His First NBA Most Valuable Player Award

James Harden Wins His First NBA Most Valuable Player Award

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James Harden finally got his MVP.

After averaging 30.4 points, 8.8 assists and 5.4 rebounds in 2017-18 and leading the Rockets to the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference and a 65-17 record, Harden was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player Monday.

“Shout out to all the youngest, man, y’all got a dream, a vision out there, go chase that dream,” Harden said after winning his award. “I’ll see y’all next year.”

This is Harden’s second straight year to be in the top 3 of the voting for the MVP award. The 28-year-old finished second to Russell Westbrook last season. He finished ninth in 2015-16.

Following Harden in the voting was LeBron James in second, who averaged 27.5 points, 9.1 assists and 8.6 rebounds, and Anthony Davis in third who put up 28.1 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game.

James Harden finished this season averaging 30.4 points per game, a career- and NBA-best. He is the first Rocket to lead the NBA in points per game in a season, and the second player in franchise history to average 30+ PPG in a season (Moses Malone – 31.1 in 1981/82).

  • Harden became the fifth different player to average 30 or more points and eight or more assists per game over the course of a season, and the second player in the last two years to do so. Before this, no player had done so since Michael Jordan in 1988-89. Additionally, he is tied with Oscar Robertson and Russell Westbrook as the oldest players to accomplish the feat at age 28.
  • Since the start of the 2016-17 season, Harden is averaging 10 assists per game. Only two other players have averaged more than 8.6 in that time.
  • He attempted 727 2-pointers and 722 3-pointers, one of three players to attempt 700+ 2- and 3-point field goals in a single season, and the first player to do so twice. His 722 3-point attempts are the fourth most in a single season in NBA history.
  • Harden hit 265 3-pointers this season, the ninth-most 3-pointers hit by a player in a single season. He has hit 971 3-pointers since the start of the 2014-15 season. Only Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have hit more.
  • Harden took 727 free throws in 2017-18, his fourth time leading the NBA in free-throw attempts and fifth time in the last six years. Only three players have led the NBA in that category more often than Harden.
  • This season was the fifth time Harden has averaged 10 or more free throws attempted per game. He is one of 13 players 6-5 or shorter to do so over the course of a season.

MORE ON JAMES HARDEN

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James Edward Harden Jr. (born August 26, 1989) is an American professional basketball player for the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played college basketball for Arizona State, where he was named a consensus All-American and Pac-10 Player of the Year in 2009. Harden was selected with the third overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft by the Oklahoma City ThunderIn 2012, he was named NBA Sixth Man of the Year with the Thunder and helped the team reach the NBA Finals.

Harden was traded to Houston prior to the 2012–13 NBA season. Upon joining the Rockets, he became one of the NBA’s most prolific scorers and earned recognition as the best shooting guard in the NBA, as well as one of the top overall players in the league. Harden was named the NBA Most Valuable Player in 2018. He is a six-time NBA All-Star, and has earned All-NBA Team honors five times, including four times to the first team.

Harden is a two-time member of the United States national basketball team, winning gold medals in both the2012 Summer Olympics and 2014 FIBA World Cup.

Standing at 6 feet 5 inches tall (1.96 m) in shoes and weighing 220 pounds (100 kg), Harden plays mostly at the shooting guard position. With season averages of over 26 points per game since the 2012–13 season, Harden is considered one of the most versatile and dangerous scorers in the NBA. He possesses a wide array of offensive moves; two of the most prominent among them being his Euro step and his step-back jumper. He has also gained notoriety for his ability to exploit league rules in order to more efficiently draw fouls and get to the free throw line, from which he is a career 84.9% shooter. He has led the NBA in free throw attempts and makes every year since the 2014–15 season. Though primarily a scorer, he is also known for his playmaking ability, orchestrating the Rockets’ offense with his elevated assist numbers. During the early portion of the 2016–17 season, Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni played Harden at point guardwhich resulted in him averaging over 10 assists per game for the first time in his career.

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While he has garnered acclaim for his prowess on the offensive end, Harden has built a reputation as a poor defender. Criticism of his defense intensified in early 2014, when a video titled “James Harden: Defensive Juggernaut” featuring eleven minutes worth of clips of Harden conceding field goals, was circulated on the Internet. During the 2014 offseason, he committed to an improvement on defense, which manifested as early as August of that year as a member of the United States men’s national basketball team. His improved defense carried over to the following season, and has been cited as a major reason for the Rockets’ regular season success.  Another negative aspect of his game that is sometimes brought up by pundits are his turnovers. Harden set the NBA record for turnovers during the 2015–16 season and broke it again the following season.

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