It nearly came to fruition for one western conference team the Houston Rockets. General manager Daryl Morey got his man by acquiring point guard Chris Paul to alleviate the pressure off James Harden and dethrone the Golden State Warriors.
Morey and the Rockets nearly did the unthinkable. Still the one question remained after being knocked out in game seven by the Warriors. How is Harden a part of the MVP discussion for the regular season? Paul did miss a lot of time during the season so that is a likely reason Harden is getting thought of.
When in the lineup the Rockets went 50-8 that’s a winning percentage of 86.2 percent. Paul also added a dimension that Houston lacked at point guard the ability to score, to create for teammates and afforded head coach Mike D’Antoni the ability to rest Harden.
It also allowed for Harden to have his best shooting year from the field since the 2013-2014 at 44.9 percent, his best from three since 2014-2015 and played the least amount of minutes per game since he became a full-time starter in the 2012-2013.
Harden did lead the league in scoring at 30.4 points per game, while averaging 8.8 assists, 5.4 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 4.4 turnovers.
While the MVP is for the regular season. Game five proved how valuable Paul is, since Harden had a dreadful game as he went 0-11 from three, and 5-21 overall. It was Morey’s brilliant acquisition that put the Warriors on the brink of a playoff exit, not Harden.
Golden State did find ways to make game six and seven interesting after falling behind early. Yet, Harden did not play like a MVP. He again struggled from the field shooting a combined 22/53 from the field, 6/25 from beyond the arc and 14/17 from the free throw line while turning the ball over 14 times.
The turnover numbers again prove how important Paul is to Houston. For the Rockets to flourish a steadying influence was needed as Paul isn’t one to turn the ball over or get rattled easily. It wasn’t long ago that Harden turned the ball over 13 times in a game.
Also, Houston without a legitimate point guard in 2016-2017 won 55 games, with Paul playing in only 58 games nearly equalled that win total. Harden has the numbers to win that’s obvious, yet he wasn’t the most valuable player to his team. It’s not possible to justify him winning MVP. Especially when LeBron James put up the numbers he did.