Houston Rockets: James Harden’s defensive prowess will earn him MVP

Houston Rockets guard James Harden (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets guard James Harden (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

Houston Rockets guard James Harden leads the league in scoring but it’s his defense on the other end of the floor that warrants his MVP status. Why? Look.

The Houston Rockets season has been filled with ups-and-downs, starting the season with numerous injuries which resulted in an undesirable start and one of the worst records in the Western Conference.  James Harden decided to carry this team on his back, went on a scoring binge and led the upward movement of the Houston Rockets.

They’re now perched at the top of the West and the fact that the Houston Rockets have won 20 of their last 24 games goes to show they’re primed for a deep postseason run.   The issues that plagued them at the start of the season have been dealt with.

Nevertheless, the one thing that has been consistent all season long has been Harden’s high level of play, not only on the offensive end of the hardwood but also on the defensive side.

Harden’s offensive output this year has been nothing short of magnificent. He is currently averaging 36.4 points per game, went on a historic 32-game streak of scoring 30+ points per game, has an ultra-effective true shooting percentage of 62 percent and has had seven triple-doubles this season.

In last night’s matchup with the Sacramento Kings at Toyota Center, he easily dropped 50 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists so I think he’s definitely this year’s offensive MVP.

Now on to the defensive side of the ball.

Harden will never be Paul George or Giannis Antetokounmpo on the defensive side of the ball but he has carved out his niche on that end of the floor and has perfected it to the point that he is making an impact.

Since the All-Star Break, the Houston Rockets have the third-best defensive rating in the

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Association (105.6) and are making their switches on defense prolifically at the level that they were last season.

Harden has been a key factor in the Houston Rockets defensive turnaround, as he is second in the league in steals, averaging with 2.1 steals per game and has given consistent effort on that side of the ball.

He has made a living in switching onto bigs and forcing them to turn over the ball.  This has helped the Houston Rockets get into fastbreak mode.  The Houston Rockets are currently ranked 7th in points off turnovers, averaging 17.9 of those per game.

This also helps players like Clint Capela and Eric Gordon get into a groove, as the turnovers allow Harden and Chris Paul to attack a retreating defense and give those guys open shots.

Additionally, when Harden is not creating turnovers, he is playing solid post defense and is also contributing heavily to the team’s defensive prowess.

Furthermore, Harden’s strength, quick hands, and basketball I.Q. have helped him become an impact player on the defensive side of the ball.

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With Harden making a difference on both ends of the floor, breaking multiple historic records this season and single-handily carrying the Houston Rockets to third place in the deadly Western Conference, he is this season’s Most Valuable Player.

Do you agree? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below.