Photo illustration by Matt Shiffler

The Greek Freak or The Beard?

James Harden or Giannis Anteokounmpo: who deserves the MVP award?
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James Harden or Giannis Anteokounmpo: who deserves the MVP award?

James Harden is looking to capture his second straight Most Valuable Player Award despite pressure from Giannis Antetokounmpo (and the Golden State Warriors).

Seven-time All-Star James Harden of the Houston Rockets has led another impressive campaign for the 2018-2019 NBA season. After leading the NBA in scoring in 2018 with 30.4 points per-game and giving the Rockets the best record in the NBA, Harden won his first MVP award.

This season Harden has played lights-out, bringing the Rockets from an underwhelming 11-14 start of the season to the fourth seed in the Western Conference. With injuries piling up, Harden carried the team and averaged an impressive 36.1 points, 7.5 assists and 6.6 rebounds per game.

He tied Kobe Bryant for the most 30-point games in one season in the last 30 years with 56 30-point games. Harden delivered in the first round of the playoffs, helping to defeat the Utah Jazz four games to one.

This man is dangerous and may be the most lethal player on the court in this year’s playoffs. He is looking to bring the Rockets out of another hole during their current series against the Warriors in the semifinals. Harden’s eye started bleeding in game two, but even with blurred vision he managed to deliver a big win to save the season.

It seems if the Rockets and Harden want to bring a championship to Houston, they will need to find a way through Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant before making the finals.

Another MVP contender this season has been three-time All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo, playing for the first place Milwaukee Bucks. Antetokounmpo has been nothing but freakish this season, earning the nickname ‘Greek Freak’ for his incredible athleticism and skills.

No one in the NBA can drive to the basket the way he can. He’s a dominant force both offensively and defensively. 2000 MVP Shaquille O’Neal called Antetokounmpo ‘better than himself’ at that age.

The ‘Greek Freak’ averages 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game. Antetokounmpo and the Bucks made a serious impression in the first round of playoffs after they swept the Detroit Pistons. After a strong first game from the Boston Celtics, the Bucks bounced back with authority.

Antetokounmpo is leading the way with 29 and 32 points in games two and three.

James Harden will likely get his second MVP after averaging eight more points than Antetokounmpo throughout the season. Harden put the injury-prone all-star point guard Chris Paul on his back and lifted his team to an outstanding playoff push.

What Harden has done this season has been spectacular and can’t go unnoticed. Antetokounmpo may not get the MVP this season, but he at least has the Bucks in position to go to the Conference Finals.

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