There are always multiple deserving candidates in the NBA league for the Most Valuable Player award. When one player wins, there are obviously those who disapprove. Similarly, when Giannis Antetokounmpo won last season, some young players felt like James Harden was snubbed hard.
Jayson Tatum still stuck on James Harden’s MVP snub
The Milwaukee Bucks’ Greek Freak took home the MVP trophy last season, finishing with 78 first-place votes to Harden’s 23. That difference in these votes makes Antetokounmpo look like the clear-cut winner of last year’s MVP race. However, many people feel otherwise.
In a recent Instagram Live with Basketball Skills Coach & Consultant Pep Stanciel, young Celtic Jayson Tatum revealed his thoughts about last year’s MVP race.
“James Harden should have won MVP last year”, Tatum said. To this, Pep seemed to have a rather extreme view as he believed “They’ve been robbing him (Harden) for five straight years now.”
The 22-year-old Celtics forward then said, “I ain’t gonna say 5, but he definitely should have won back-to-back MVPs”
Did Giannis Antetokounmpo really deserve MVP?
Statistically, Harden averaged 36.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game. He led the league in scoring, 3-pointers made and free throws made. He also finished second in steals per game.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, on the other hand, averaged 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.5 blocks per game. Although these are fantastic numbers, Harden’s ridiculous points per game averages really put him ahead of anyone in the league last season on paper.
The Bucks’ star didn’t lead the league in any major statistical category, whereas Harden led all players in three and finished second in another.
A very important point to note is that the Rockets got off to a terrible start last season. They won just 11 of their first 25 games and were almost outside of the playoff race.
They faced injuries, poor defense, and cold streaks from various players. All of this played a role in Houston’s struggles. However, Harden took the load on his back and led the Rockets to a strong finish.
By the end of 2018-19 season, the Rockets were a different team. They won 20 out of their final 25 games. They went from being very close to the bottom in the Western Conference to tying the Trail Blazers for the third-best record in the west.
After the 25th game of the season, when the Rockets lost to the Dallas Mavericks, people were questioning if Houston would even make the playoffs. However, Harden kicked things into high gear.
After a win in Portland, the 30-year-old dropped 50 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists in a win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Hence we can credit a dramatic upgrade to Harden.
Even though Giannis won MVP for good reasons, we do understand Tatum’s feelings when he says that James Harden got snubbed.