Matt Slocum/AP; Jim Mone/AP
- The NBA MVP race between Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden is neck-and-neck.
- Antetokounmpo had the most well-rounded season in the league while leading the Milwaukee Bucks to the best record.
- Harden had one of the best scoring seasons in league history while single-handedly carrying the Houston Rockets.
- Some NBA writers who have MVP votes wrote explainers for the MVP picks, and we gathered them to get an idea of why Antetokounmpo is leading the race.
The NBA MVP race has been a two-person debate nearly all season: Giannis Antetokounmpo or James Harden.
Antetokounmpo is a two-way force who averaged 27 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 assists per game while locking down opponents on one end of the floor and leading the Milwaukee Bucks to the best record in the league. His case is obvious.
Harden, however, has been the single most unstoppable player in the league. He’s having one of the best offensive seasons ever, averaging 36 points and 7.5 assists per game. He’s single-handedly carried the Rockets to 53 wins, setting them up as the team some think is in the best position to knock off the Golden State Warriors.
So, who should win the league’s most prestigious award? A handful of NBA writers with official votes wrote up their ballots, with explanations for each pick. Though this is only a small sample of the 100 or so voters, people are overwhelming leaning toward Antetokounmpo.
Here’s why people are picking the "Greek Freak" to win MVP:
Zach Lowe, ESPN: "Any difference in roster quality is not enough to win Harden MVP."
"Any difference in roster quality is not enough to win Harden MVP …
"Milwaukee is 7.5 games ahead of Houston. Its scoring margin with Antetokounmpo on the floor is double Houston’s with Harden. If those numbers were closer, the roster-quality argument would win the day for Harden. You can’t punish Antetokounmpo for leading a healthier, more talented roster if he led it to its proper endpoint."
Marc Stein, The New York Times: "Antetokounmpo has been the face and chief culture-setter in the Bucks’ transformation"
"Who had the better 2018-19 season? I would go (ever so narrowly) with Giannis. On top of all his individual superlatives, Antetokounmpo has been the face and chief culture-setter in the Bucks’ transformation from 44-win underachiever to the best team in the league (regular-season edition). And his candidacy gets bonus points on our scorecard because Milwaukee, for Eastern Conference supremacy, had to beat out a trio of worthy challengers who were all projected as superior before the season."
Chris Mannix, Sports Illustrated: "Giannis is doing it at both ends."
"The Bucks have sat atop the Eastern Conference for months, Giannis is doing it at both ends (he’s a sneaky strong candidate for Defensive Player of the Year) and then there is this: The difference between Giannis and the second-best player on his team, Khris Middleton, is far greater than the difference between other MVP candidates and the second-best player on their teams."
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