Welcome to the Truda Report everybody. One day ago James Harden said in an interview that playing all 82 games of the NBA season matters in the MVP race. Harden has played all 74 games so far this season, averaging 29.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 11.4 apg. Harden has been key to orchestrating Mike Dantoni's offensive system, and in doing so has been an offensive juggernaut. His incredible play in his first year at the point guard position has had him in the MVP conversation since the beginning of the year. Lately though, the race for MVP has tightened. Obviously Russell Westbrook has been one of the leading candidates as he tries to be the first player to average a triple double since Oscar Robertson; LeBron James has become a more legitimate candidate since the Cavaliers have struggled so much without him on the court (LeBron is +16 per 100 possessions); Kawhi Leonard has been an all around great player posting 26.0 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 3.5 apg, and 1.8 spg. It seems like its going to come down to either Harden or Russ, but with all of the headlines about LeBron sitting out games it didn't hurt for Harden to boost his case for MVP.
The real question though is if Harden's point about playing every game actually makes him more valuable. I have heard a couple people use Steven A. Smith's famous phrase, availability is the best ability, and in Hardens case he has made himself available to play in every single game. Steven A. usually uses the phrase when discussing the injury problems of athelets though, and this situation clearly doesn't apply because LeBron is sitting by choice. LeBron has been playing for 11 years, while Harden has only been playing for 7. Going along with that point, LeBron has played close to as many playoff games as two full seasons worth of games. He has the right to rest, especially when his is expected to carry his team to another NBA Finals this June. Harden has never had to put a team on his back the way LeBron has, and personally, I don't think Harden can. If Lebron wanted to play all 82 games, he certainly could and the Cavs would without a doubt be a better regular season team. LeBron is so valuable though, it isn't worth wasting his abilities against teams like the 76ers when he is going to have to carry his team for 2 months in the NBA Playoffs.
I have nothing against James Harden and I think that in a way you could look at what he said and agree. It is unfair to the fans for LeBron to sit away games against Western Conference teams since he only plays them twice a year (only once in the other teams stadium). It's also not great that the Cavaliers started to struggle when LeBron started to sit games, and now have lost the top spot in the East. In the end though, none of this matters because LeBron not playing every game doesn't make him less valuable than someone like James Harden.
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High School Senior from Connecticut obsessed with sports stats, facts, and management.