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Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo tries to drive past Houston Rockets' James Harden during the second half on March 7, 2018, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Sean Blevins headshot

The NBA MVP race is uber competitive right now and there are three very close candidates for top honors. That said, I think the award belongs to James Harden this year with Giannis Antetokounmpo in a very close second. I am not against having them share the award, but the chances of that happening are extremely low.

You can make a case for Giannis over Harden, but as of today I think Harden has been more valuable. That being said, every team has a little over 20 games left in the regular season, so a lot can change in that time.

I have Harden over Antetokounmpo primarily because of the historic tear he’s on. His 32-game streak of scoring over 30 points would be unprecedented if not for Wilt Chamberlain. Harden is averaging a whopping 36.5 points per game, 7.7 assists per game and 6.6 rebounds per game this season, and has almost single-handedly carried the Rockets to the fifth seed in the West as Chris Paul and Clint Capela have both missed significant time.

He’s been forced to have an ultra-high usage rate all season and has an eye-popping statline to back it up. The Rockets isocentric style of play combined with Mike D'Antoni’s fast-paced offense probably bores and turns away a good amount of viewers. Harden does rely on free throws quite often and attempts far more shots than anyone else in the league, but that shouldn’t diminish what he is doing. Harden has the best statistics out of the three candidates and I think he contributes the most to his team, so that is why he is my MVP.

The case for the “Greek Freak” is fairly easy to make. Giannis has led the Bucks to the best record in the league at 44-14 and is scoring 27.2 points per game to along with 12.7 rebounds per game and six assists. Giannis is also a phenomenal defender and one of the few players in today’s league that can play, and guard, all five positions.

Antetokounmpo is the future of the league –– imagine if he developed a consistent three point shot. I think the majority of fans would take Giannis over Harden, but you never know what you’ll get with the inconsistent MVP voters.

I think the consensus is that Paul George is third in the MVP race. He is having the best season of his career, as he’s averaging 28.7 points per game and is also the frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year. Oklahoma City is currently sitting at third in the Western Conference, and they’re quickly emerging as one of the biggest threats to the Warriors in the West.

When Russell Westbrook defers shots to George on offense, the Thunder are far better and tougher to beat. Almost any other year Paul George would win MVP, but there just happens to be an abundance of amazing superstars in the league right now.

The post All-Star break push will surely bring out the best in everyone, and we should all be excited to see what transpires.

Sean Blevins is a columnist. Contact him at sbelvins4@kent.edu. 

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