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5 Reasons Giannis Will Win MVP Over Harden

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This season, we have arguably the closest MVP race we’ve had in the last 15 years. On one end, we have the best scorer in the league in James Harden. On the other end, we have a budding superstar who does a little of everything on the court in Giannis Antetokounmpo. That’s not to say Harden can ONLY score. Giannis just puts in more effort on both sides of the ball and the numbers prove that. Here are five reasons why Giannis will win the MVP award.

1. Defense

It isn’t exactly a secret that James Harden has been a subpar defender since entering the league. Many people just look at the box scores and see he gets two steals per game. Now, you have to give credit where credit is due and that is pretty impressive in its own right. But as far as his skill as an on-ball defender, he’s average at best. Giannis, on the other hand, is at the top of the league in defensive rating, defensive win shares, and defensive box plus/minus. With his play on the defensive side of the ball he’s making a case for not only the MVP, but the Defensive Player of the Year as well. A true MVP makes a difference on both sides of the ball, and that’s what Giannis does, night in and night out.

2. Efficiency

Harden is averaging an incredible 36.2 points per game this season. The only players to ever have a higher scoring average in a season are Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain. Jordan did it once, and Wilt five times. That shows you right there that what he’s done this season is historic. The only issue with that, however, is that he’s taken an average of 24.6 shots per game– the most in the league. Not only is he taking almost 25 shots per game, he’s only shooting 44%. Meanwhile, Giannis is averaging 27.7 points per game on 17.4 shots, while also shooting 57.7%. His 27.7 points per game are good for third in the league, and his 57.7% shooting is the best in the league by a wide margin among the top 30 highest scorers. If Giannis took as many shots as Harden on a nightly basis, he would score just as much, if not more.

 

3. Best Record in the League

If anyone told you back in October that the Bucks would end the season with the NBA’s best record, you’d call them insane. With their April 4th win over the 76ers, they clinched the best record in the league. Dreams really do come true. Giannis is far and away the best player on the Bucks, and some are even calling him the best player in the league. Being the best player on the best team in the league is a strong case for an MVP in itself. In head to head matchups this season, the Bucks are 2-0 against Harden’s Rockets. Oh, and there’s this, too:

4. Selflessness

Everyone knows James Harden is a shot taker. The shots he takes, though, aren’t always the best shots for his team. Many of his shots are his signature step back three. That’s not a knock on his playmaking, as his ability to create plays for teammates is second to none. The problem is he tries to create plays for himself more often than for his teammates, as told by his usage rate of 39.5%. One area Giannis prides himself in is his playmaking ability. With the offense that Coach Budenholzer runs, it allows Giannis to either run the offense or play in the paint. The shooters sit outside, and it frees up space for Giannis to drive and score or drive and kick for an open shot. If he’s in the paint, he’s normally being double teamed, which means somebody is open. He has the IQ to know when to pass out and when to take it in himself. Whether the pass is for an open shot or it leads to more passes creating an open shot, he is always willing to make it.

5. He Makes His Teammates Better

Being a good playmaker isn’t the only way to make your teammates better. Giannis is an excellent playmaker, but that’s far from the only reason his teammates are having success. He puts in the work every day to be the best player and best man he can be. He has that “Mamba Mentality.” He’s the first one in the gym, and the last one out. That kind of energy resonates throughout the team. When the team knows they have a leader with that kind of work ethic, it boosts morale, and makes them want to be that much better. Being a great player is more than just having the skills. It’s about being a leader, and that’s exactly what Giannis is. That’s exactly what the MVP should be.

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