By now, everyone interested has heard all of the arguments for and against Stephen Curry and James Harden in the MVP discussion. I don’t intend to rehash all of that. I just want to tell you the precise moment in the season when it became crystal clear to me who is the real MVP of the league.
The clincher for me was watching Harden in his games against the Warriors, and particularly in the highly anticipated midseason showdown between the two teams on Harden’s home court, when Harden’s offensive game was completely taken away by Klay Thompson and the brilliant Warriors scheme. What did Harden do? Did he back off his own offense and concentrate on leading and setting up his teammates, as Curry has done many times before, including and especially in the playoffs?
No. As I remarked after that game, Harden simply starting forcing. And his team went down in flames as a result. That’s the difference to me between a real leader and MVP, and a pretender.
This difference in leadership between the two players is strongly reflected in the difference between their efficiency stats. Curry balances the choice between looking for his own offense, and setting up his teammates in the team offense, almost perfectly. Probably better than it has ever been done before in NBA history, by such a gifted scorer.
I don’t think these two linked attributes, leadership and efficiency, have been mentioned enough in the MVP discussion.
Stephen Curry wins in a landslide.