Rockets Radio Voice: Harden Should Be MVP

Craig Ackerman explained why James Harden deserves MVP – and why fatigue won't be an issue for him in the playoffs

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
April 18, 2019 - 9:53 am
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James Harden

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James Harden had an historic regular season, averaging 36.1 points per game – 8.1 points more than Paul George, who finished second with 28.0. Harden, somehow, also managed to finish eighth in assists (7.5).

It was, truly, an unbelievable campaign.

But he also finished third in minutes played (36.8). Will that wear and tear come back to bite him in the postseason?

Rockets play-by-play voice Craig Ackerman says no.

“I think some of the fatigue issues surrounding James Harden in the playoffs have more to do with the actual playoff series that he’s played than the wear and tear on him in the regular season,” Ackerman said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “Look, he did carry an historic load in the middle of the year, where he basically averaged 40 points a game over a 30-plus-(game) stretch, which is unheard of in the modern era. The only other player in the history of the sport that has done that has been Wilt Chamberlain. That’s why we all think that James should be MVP.”

Harden could join Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, LeBron James, Steph Curry, Tim Duncan and Steve Nash, among others, as back-to-back-MVP winners.

“Now that the regular-season is over, the votes are in, and it is what it is,” Ackerman said. “If Giannis wins, then so be it. He’s had an MVP-caliber season. But that’s why we in Houston think James Harden should repeat.”

The Rockets have been on cruise control against Utah, winning each of their first two games by 20+ points.

“They came into the playoffs really well-rested,” Ackerman said. “All the minutes were down from all their starters. But going back the last couple of years, he’s had to go through Oklahoma City and Andre Roberson, who I think is the best individual Harden defender in the league. He makes him earn everything. He’s had to go through the San Antonio Spurs and Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard, who aren’t far behind Andre Roberson as the best Harden defenders in the league. Last year, he was great in round one, he was good in round two, but Golden State is a good defensive team and they have a lot of bodies they can throw at him as well. 

“I think some of his late playoff fatigue has had to do with the actual series he’s played in and not the regular season piling on him later,” Ackerman said. “But look, you’re not going to get James Harden off the floor. Someone is going to have to run him over with a truck to get him off the court. He wants to play basketball. He doesn’t believe in load management or taking time off. He loves to play, and he’s going to be out there all the time, whether the Rockets are up by 50 or they’re down by 50. He wants to be on the floor, and this is what he loves to do.”

Click below to listen to Ackerman’s interview in its entirety.