The Freak vs The Beard: Who ya got?

Who is your pick for NBA MVP


  • Total voters
    69

Kliq

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Mar 31, 2013
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This has been one of the best MVP races in recent memories, and both James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo have had monster season, each good enough to win the MVP in most other seasons. So who is your pick to win the MVP?

Giannis: 28/12/6 on 58/25/73 shooting. 1.3 steals and 1.5 blocks per game. 3.7 turnovers per game. ORtg of 121 and a DRtg of 99. 72 games played, 2,358 minutes played. Team finished: 60-22, 1st in East.

Harden: 36/6/7 on 44/36/88 shooing. 2 steals and 0.7 blocks per game. 5 turnovers per game. ORtg of 118 and a DRtg of 108. 78 games played, 2,867 minutes played. Team finished: 53-29, 4th in West.

A lot of balls in the air. Harden had a truly special scoring season and has mastered the modern style of offense, averaging 13 3FGA and 11 FTA per game. Harden and Giannis both average 10 FGM per game, but Harden averages almost 10 more ppg because of his utilization of three point field goals and his superiority at both getting to line, and shooting from the line. He also handles the ball more on offense than Giannis and runs the offense, freeing up shooters and making the careers for guys like PJ Tucker, Austin Rivers and Gerald Green. His laughably bad defense has improved to the degree of being passable, and he has been able to force some turnovers while being hidden on defense.

Giannis has mastered the traditional style of offense, 57 percent of his shots come within 3 feet of the basket, and he is shooting 77 percent from that distance. His rebounding has been outstanding, giving him a definitive major edge over Harden. He isn't quite the passer that Harden is, but 6 apg for a wing player is nothing to sneeze at. He also is one of the best defensive players in the league and is a total force on that end of the floor. While some people question his lack of outside shooting, it hasn't hindered him or his team at all during the regular season.

An argument for Giannis is that his team was superior, won 60 games and is the one seed in the East. Harden put up bigger counting stats, but Giannis didn't have to do that because his team was healthier and deeper. Do you penalize Giannis for having better teammates? At the end of the day, he did everything he needed to do for his team to finish first.

The flip side of that is can you penalize Harden for having worse teammates, or being less healthy? I think it is fair to say that if Harden was on the Bucks this season, he would have put up smaller counting numbers but his team could have won 60 games (the inverse can probably be said for Giannis on the Rockets). Harden did everything he possibly could to get that team to 53-29, can you penalize him for Houston having injuries?

I think at the end of the day, I'm going with Harden by a slight margin. Giannis had a better all-around season and is the superior two-way player, but Harden's scoring season, mixed in with his playmaking and the burden he carried for Houston when Paul and Capela were injured is the most memorable aspect of the regular season. If there is a tiebreaker, the fact that Harden played six more games and 500 more minutes gives him the slightest of edges.
 

the moops

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Jan 19, 2016
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I also would give the slight edge to Harden. However, this won't be especially close, IMO. Best player on the best team in the NBA who has the counting numbers, the defensive reputation, and he is a likable guy.
 

luckiestman

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Jul 15, 2005
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If Houston's goober were to win it all this year? Where would you rank him? 3rd best at SG (I know he kind of is a PG)
 

McBride11

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Jul 15, 2005
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I would have loved a suicide squeeze bunt there. Just for the entertainment. I know Mitchy has been raking but Beni needed like 3 steps to home

edit - nope for the RS game.

As for this, as moops said, Greek Freak on best team with stellar stats. Maintained 1st after second best player went down. Personal bias - I can't get over Harden's fake shot - step into foul move
 
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ElUno20

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Jul 19, 2005
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I think we'll see someone replicate Giannis' season (or close to it) before we see someone get to 36ppg again.
 

Cellar-Door

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Aug 1, 2006
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I'd pick Giannis he's arguably the best defender in the league and an elite offensive player, also his team plays insanely well when he's on the court. Harden has great stats but the gap between his team's performance with him on and off while significant is half what Giannis's gap is.
 

jon abbey

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Jul 15, 2005
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I think we'll see someone replicate Giannis' season (or close to it) before we see someone get to 36ppg again.
When did we stop factoring in the inflated numbers the star of a D’Antoni offense can put up? This is a genuine question, and I know Nash won two MVPs under him, but it was at least a factor back then.
 

PedrosRedGlove

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Dec 5, 2005
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Agree with ElUno above. Giannis will probably win, and rightfully so, ORtg of 121 and a DRtg of 99 is just absurd and the game recently when he blocked Embiid 4 times (and also went 45/13/6) cemented that he's on another level of dominant this year. I still think I'd personally like to see Harden win, the scoring streak was a unique accomplishment. People complain about the fouls, but he is virtually unguardable with his quickness when you watch him.
EDIT: D'antoni system or not, he still put up 36ppg on 24.5fga. Those are all time great numbers, comparing favorably to anything Jordan, Kobe, or Curry has done.

Also shout out to Paul George, who also had a season good enough to win MVP in a lot of years. 28/8/4 on 44/39/84 shooting, a league-leading 2.2 steals, 0.4 blocks, and 2.7 turnovers per game and could be DPOY but I'm assuming they'll give that to Giannis as well.
 
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HowBoutDemSox

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When did we stop factoring in the inflated numbers the star of a D’Antoni offense can put up? This is a genuine question, and I know Nash won two MVPs under him, but it was at least a factor back then.
Is there that much of a boost for playing in a D’Antoni offense these days? Per ESPN (filter by year
here), Nash’s two MVP years, 2004-05 and 2005-06, Phoenix was 3rd and 1st in the league in pace at 112.3 and 112.0 possessions per game, respectively. This year, Houston was tied for 23rd (with Indiana and San Antonio) at 100.4 possessions per game. So Harden’s extra scoring wasn’t a result of more offensive possessions, but rather increased usage/efficiency during fewer possessions.
 

HowBoutDemSox

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Aug 12, 2009
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Well, there’s my answer, but I’m still going Giannis.
It’s a great debate and you really can’t make a wrong pick. I’d say objectively I’d go with Giannis as well, given his impact on both ends of the court, but I’m a sucker for a good narrative and Harden’s streak while his team was hobbled with injury made for absolute compelling basketball, even if I’m among those who don’t really enjoy his game from and aesthetic perspective. The stats he was putting up in terms of unassisted baskets, scoring and assists were preposterous.
 

sezwho

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Jul 20, 2005
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As a fan with a special love for players that are truly elite at both ends (Kawhi, George, engaged Lebron), and a special loathing for the highly effective jump-into-you-fouls of Harden, this one was easy.

That said, it did get me thinking of the common NBA opinion that the most valuable skill is scoring in a big game when its late and close, the refs are (at least somewhat) less likely to bail you out, and everyone knows you are getting the ball,

Harden still scores or gets to the line, even if Giannis is trying to stop him.
 

Cellar-Door

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As a fan with a special love for players that are truly elite at both ends (Kawhi, George, engaged Lebron), and a special loathing for the highly effective jump-into-you-fouls of Harden, this one was easy.

That said, it did get me thinking of the common NBA opinion that the most valuable skill is scoring in a big game when its late and close, the refs are (at least somewhat) less likely to bail you out, and everyone knows you are getting the ball,

Harden still scores or gets to the line, even if Giannis is trying to stop him.
Honestly I think the opposite on this, Giannis is more unstoppable to me on offense. He doesn't carry the load that Harden does, in part because he helps his team just obliterate opponents (they're almost a +13 when he's on the court, which is filthy) but he gets to the rim better than any player in the league. Harden doesn't make my top 5, maybe top 10 of single possession guys, and it's a reason that in the playoffs when touch fouls go away he's struggled to keep up his late game scoring.


One weird thing to me is one centerpiece to the Harden case from a lot of his supporters is that scoring streak when Paul was out, but it's a hard thing to assess for me because his team was better during that streak when he wasn't on the floor. Harden seems a classic example of a guy who once he gets to a certain offensive load, any addition comes with a subtraction on defense. Giannis never gets to quite that level of offense, but the exchange is you get a defensive level that is far far above Harden's best.
 

Kliq

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Mar 31, 2013
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Honestly I think the opposite on this, Giannis is more unstoppable to me on offense. He doesn't carry the load that Harden does, in part because he helps his team just obliterate opponents (they're almost a +13 when he's on the court, which is filthy) but he gets to the rim better than any player in the league. Harden doesn't make my top 5, maybe top 10 of single possession guys, and it's a reason that in the playoffs when touch fouls go away he's struggled to keep up his late game scoring.


One weird thing to me is one centerpiece to the Harden case from a lot of his supporters is that scoring streak when Paul was out, but it's a hard thing to assess for me because his team was better during that streak when he wasn't on the floor. Harden seems a classic example of a guy who once he gets to a certain offensive load, any addition comes with a subtraction on defense. Giannis never gets to quite that level of offense, but the exchange is you get a defensive level that is far far above Harden's best.
I might be misunderstanding your post, but 2018-2019 James Harden is undisputedly one of the very best isolation scorers basketball has ever seen, in addition to being a very good and willing passer. He isn’t in your top five or top ten for single-possession guys?
 

the moops

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It is amazing how often Harden is in ISO. According to nba.com he has 16.4 isolations per game. Next closest is John Wall. At 5.6 per game. Geez.

Harden scores at 1.11 pts per possession in those plays. Only guys above him are some super low usage and some bigs (Horford and Vuc are two). Giannis only has 3.9 per game, and only scores at .95 pts per possession.

So...no, Giannis is not a better iso scorer. Not even close
 

Cellar-Door

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I might be misunderstanding your post, but 2018-2019 James Harden is undisputedly one of the very best isolation scorers basketball has ever seen, in addition to being a very good and willing passer. He isn’t in your top five or top ten for single-possession guys?
He's terrific in isolation, but the hypo was close and late (or playoffs) when the refs swallow the whistle more. Harden hasn't been as good in those situation traditionally (last 2 minutes, close or last 1 minute close).
I'd 100% take the following over him in that situation:
Kyrie
Curry
Lillard
PG13
KD
I'd also take:
Lou Williams
Healthy Lebron
Healthy Chris Paul

Then I put him in the next tier with:
Giannis
Kawahi
Butler.

Harden is a terrific ISO scorer, but when you dampen his incredible ability to draw fouls he slips some, and I don't think he makes the top tier.