James Harden after 44-point night: 'I feel like I am the MVP'

Jack Baer
·2 min read

It has been an eventful year for James Harden, but he still seems to be playing like James Harden.

The Brooklyn Nets star posted 44 points, 14 rebounds and 8 assists on Friday against the Detroit Pistons in a 113-111 win, continuing a strong run for the Nets over the last month in the absence of Kevin Durant. In addition to Durant, the Nets were also missing Kyrie Irving due to a personal matter.

That led to an interesting question after the game: Does Harden believe he belongs in the MVP debate?

Harden's answer: He thinks he should be the leader in the MVP debate.

Harden's response:

"Do I feel like I belong in it? I feel like I am the MVP. It's just that simple. I don't want to talk, I don't want to be speaking individually on myself, I'm just going to leave it at that.

"I just try to go out there every single night and give my teammates everything I can bring to the game. Tonight, Detroit's game plan and schemes were to take away the lob pass and not let our bigs get lobs and our shooters get shots. That allowed me to get to the basket and shoot lay-ups all night. Games are different, I just take what the defense gives me. The next game, it might be we get more lobs and shots, so, just play the game the right way and try to be efficient in doing it."

Entering Friday, Harden had been averaging 25.3 points, 11.2 assists and 7.9 rebounds per game. In the time since Durant's last game, the 2018 MVP was averaging 27.6 points, 11.3 assists and 9.2 rebounds, with the Nets holding a 14-2 record with him on the floor.

It's a wide open MVP race this year. Joel Embiid and LeBron James both looked like strong candidates, but injuries seem likely to keep them long enough to take them out of the race. Nikola Jokic and Damian Lillard may represent the new head of the pack, but Harden continues to improve his case while maintaining the Nets' dominance.

Of course, there are arguments against Harden. Even if you ignore what the Rockets have to say about his value, Harden's teammates will inevitably be part of the conversation no matter how games they end up playing. We'll see if anything changes down the line, but it is sure to be an interesting conversation if Harden's production continues.

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