Brooklyn Nets: James Harden winning without Kevin Durant should seal MVP case

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 17: James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 17: James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

It was fair to question what James Harden’s role with the Brooklyn Nets was going to be after the Rockets traded him, as Brooklyn was already in possession of two of the game’s truly great offensive players in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Not only were there some initial kinks that needed to be ironed out, but Durant suffered a hamstring injury that has sidelined him for weeks. Harden and the Nets could’ve come completely undone at the seams, but it’s the reigning scoring champion who has helped keep Brooklyn balanced.

The Nets’ win against the Indiana Pacers Wednesday night might’ve been Harden’s most impressive game of the season, as he recorded a 40-point triple-double against one of the best frontcourt duos in the game despite the fact that both Durant and Irving sat this game out with injuries.

Brooklyn has since overtaken another potential MVP candidate, Joel Embiid and his Philadelphia 76ers, in the standings. Harden has had a strong MVP case for some time, but recording 11 triple-doubles in 27 games with the Nets despite all the talent around him might be enough to push him into the top spot. 

James Harden could finally give the Brooklyn Nets an MVP.

Since Brooklyn’s embarrassing loss against the Detroit Pistons, a stretch in which KD has only played one game, Harden has been averaging a triple-double, scoring 27.3 points while pulling down 10.0 rebounds per game and dishing out 11.2 assists per contest. If the season ended today, Harden would lead the NBA in assists.

Harden isn’t just stat-padding on a bad team. He has quickly become arguably Brooklyn’s most important player given the value he adds as a rebounder and as a passer. Throw into that some efficient percentages from the field, and you have a tailor-made MVP candidate.

While Durant might’ve made a run at MVP if he didn’t get hurt considering the averages he put up, Harden has stepped up with Durant on the bench. The Nets, on paper, look like one of the best teams in the league, but their poor defense from early in the season shows how vulnerable they can be. On both ends of the floor, Harden is getting it done.

Because of the notion that he is a Robin to Durant’s Batman, Harden’s MVP case might not be as well-received in the media. However, the numbers don’t lie, and they go to show just how deadly Harden can be when he is given the reins on offense. If the Nets keep this up without KD, Harden might run away with the MVP.

Next. Harden pokes back at his critics. dark