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James Harden deserves to win the NBA's MVP award

James Harden went from becoming a star in Tempe to an MVP candidate in the NBA. The most famous beard in sports will make ASU proud this year.

James Harden Illustrator

Illustration of James Harden published on Jan. 19, 2017.

It was just nearly a decade ago when James Harden stepped foot on our campus ready to start his college basketball journey, where he shined and was later drafted as #3 in the 2009 NBA draft by the Oklahoma City Thunder. 

But today, he is on the verge of becoming the first Sun Devil to win the most prestigious award any individual basketball athlete could win at the professional level: the NBA's MVP. 

So what exactly separates James Harden from all other MVP candidates?

James Harden is on track to leading his team to a 60 game winning-record this season. That is an outstanding team success. 

While other MVP candidates have experienced similar success, they tend to have all-star teammates by their side, which is not the case with Harden's team today, and which is why he would win the MVP award if the season ended this week

For example, let's take the 4 teams that have the top 4 MVP candidates: Golden State, Oklahoma City, Cleveland, and Harden's Rockets. 

The three other teams besides Houston all have more than one All-Star on their rosters, and that plays into Harden's favor. Lebron James who plays for Cleveland is playing alongside one of the best point-guards in the league, Kyrie Irving, and a legitimate power-forward, Kevin Love.

Kevin Durant who plays for Golden State, is playing alongside perhaps the greatest shooting-backcourt in the modern era, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, and fellow all-star, Draymond Green. 

Having that kind of help on your team is great, but when I think of Most Valuable Player, it makes me think of someone who elevates the team to a level that we don't expect them to reach.This leaves us with Russell Westbrook who plays for Oklahoma City and James Harden who plays for Houston. 

Harden is in a tight race for this award, along with former teammate, Russell Westbrook. Both players are having a remarkable season with historic numbers. 

At this point in the season, Russell Westbrook is averaging a triple-double, having 21 of them so far, while James is 2nd in the league with 13 triple-doubles

There is one Harden triple-double that stands out compared to all 21 of Westbrook's triple-doubles. 

On New Year's Eve, James did something no other basketball player has done at the professional level. He is the very first NBA player to have a 53-16-17 game. That's what you call a complete domination within a full game. 

That was the first time an NBA player has scored that many points on a triple-double night since Wilt Chamberlain during the 1968 season.

However, the amount of rebounds and assists makes this stat-line the most remarkable night in league history by a player, certainly in the modern era.

However, the main factor in this year's MVP race is who ends up leading its team to a better winning-record and better spot in the playoffs. Today, standing with the 3rd best record in the league, James Harden is on path to becoming the first Sun Devil to win an NBA MVP award. 

Someone else who agrees with that Harden is deserving of the award is Doug Tammaro, a director of media relations at ASU, who also kept an eye on James Harden throughout his ASU basketball journey.

He said that his team's success will be the determining factor in the race for the MVP award. 

"I believe the most impressive thing he’s doing is leading Houston to a great record, not just an average team, which is why he's having the better year to this date," Tammaro said.

Reach the reporter at or follow @chasingsources on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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