Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni explains exactly why he thinks James Harden should be MVP
Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni believes James Harden is the 2019 NBA MVP.
D’Antoni told The Athletic’s Sam Amick of The Athletic it’s going to be a two-way race between Harden and Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo.
“I’ve got to tell you, (Giannis) is really good – reaaallyy good. And they’ve got the best record in the league, and that’s all good. So I’m not knocking him. I’m making the case for my guy, but take that and put it away.
Your (Rockets) record is not quite as good (as the Bucks’), but we’re right there. And (Harden) has done it with a complete change of roster. And again, his other carrying partner (Chris Paul) was hurt for (17) games. Clint (Capela), his other guy, was out for 15 games. I don’t know.
And he played every night. It’s hard for him to miss a game. He’s playing (36.4) minutes a game. He’s doing it all. I don’t know, I just don’t see the other argument. I do because of the record, and I do because of how good he is – and he’s really good.”
Mike D’Antoni reiterated to Amick that Harden had to make the most of a re-tooled roster and several key injuries this season. The Rockets mentor also stressed how his team rebounded from a sluggish 11-14 start to its current 50-28 (.641) win-loss record, thanks in large part to Harden’s exploits.
“It was teetering. It was teetering. I mean you’re 11-14 (on Dec. 8), and at 25 games everybody usually says you can tell what kind of team you have – and we’re 11-14,” D’Antoni said. “And we hadn’t sustained Clint missing 15 (games from mid-January to mid-February) and CP missing (17 from mid-December to late January) after that, so for me – and you can write it – James is the MVP.”
“I’m telling you, he took that, and without CP, without Clint, with us changing almost half the roster, and took us where we have a chance to be third. Nobody else could do that. I’m telling you right now. Nobody.”
D’Antoni makes a strong case for Harden as this season’s MVP. He has carried the load for the Rockets this 2018-19 campaign, averaging 36.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 7.6 assists per game.
However, Antetokounmpo has also been instrumental in the Bucks’ rise to prominence this year. Milwaukee owns the NBA’s best record at 58-20, with Antetokounmpo leading the way with averages of 27.4 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game.
This season’s NBA MVP race will go down the wire, for sure.
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