Earlier this month, James Harden and Stephen Curry both made very interesting comments regarding last years results of both the MVP race, and the NBA playoffs last year. Steph Curry’s Warriors won the NBA Finals against LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers. Curry himself was named the MVP of the entire league. However, many people, myself included, believe Curry was not the worthy candidate.
Now, before I go any further, Stephen Curry is a great player. I think he’s slightly overrated, but he’s still a top player in the league.
The Most Valuable Player is supposed to go to the player who is most valuable to his team. Seems obvious right? Well not so fast. The MVP has recently gone to the best player on the best team, which is the case with Curry. If you go down the roster on the Warriors from last year, they were one of the deepest in the league. The starting five with Curry, then fellow All-Star Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Defensive Player Of The Year Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut were one of the best in the league. Throw in capable backups such as Andre Iguodala, Marreese Speights, Shaun Livingston and David Lee, you have an incredibly deep roster. Plus, essentially all of those players stayed healthy. Only the aforementioned David Lee missed more than 20 games.
Now onto the Rockets roster. A starting five of Patrick Beverly, Harden, Trevor Ariza, Donatas Montiejunas and Dwight Howard sounds intimidating. Role players like Terrence Jones, Jason Terry, Corey Brewer and midseason acquisition Josh Smith rounded out the rotation. But here’s the catch. Dwight Howard played 41 games,Terrence Jones played 33 games and Patrick Beverly missed the playoff series against the Warriors.
Beverly is a very skilled on and off ball defender on the perimeter, and he most likely would have had the task of shadowing Curry. In the five game series against the Rockets, Curry averaged 31.2 points per game. With Beverly’s skill, you would figure Curry wouldn’t put up that egregious of a number.
But the MVP doesn’t include postseason stats. In the regular season James Harden did more with less. Harden led the league in points and averaged 27.4 a game, compared to Curry’s 23.8 a game. Harden also average more rebounds at 5.7 a game to Curry’s 4.3. Also, Curry, a point guard averaged 7.7 assist per game while Harden, a shooting guard, averaged 7 on the dot. Harden accounted for four triple doubles and Curry didn’t record one. However, Curry did shoot more efficiently than Harden as he posted a 48% field goal percentage and a 44% three point percentage. Harden’s number read as 44% and 37%, respectively.
On defense, both players weakness, Harden averaged 1.9 steals and .7 blocks per game. Curry averaged 2.0 steals and .2 blocks per game.
Both players are very even and the stats basically split their production in half. But there are a few things that swing my vote for James Harden. One reason why I side with Harden is that he’s done more with less. With all the injuries and a lack of depth, it’s amazing that Harden was able to carry his team on his back for most of the season. Dwight Howard is a top three center in the NBA and a defensive anchor for the Houston defense. Harden also has a more diverse offensive game than Curry. Curry gets too shot happy at some points, while Harden isn’t afraid to take it into the defense and get easy points at the foul line. Harden shot a ridiculous 824 free throws compared to Curry’s 337. Harden also made significant strides on defense. Both players are great at what they do, but Harden’s more complete game and the ability to do more than less gives him an advantage.