Houston Rockets guard James Harden became just the second player to score 50 or more points in two games this season after obliterating the Sacramento Kings for 51 points in Wednesday night’s 115-111 victory. According to ESPN, Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving is the only other player to put up two 50-plus point games this season. The Rockets are currently third in the ever-crowded Western Conference, and are locked in a dead heat with the No. 2 Memphis Grizzlies.
But odds makers haven't moved Harden ahead of Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry for this season’s MVP award.
According to odds compiled by OddsChecker.com, Curry, who’s deservedly sat atop the MVP mountain for essentially the entire season, is a 1/3 favorite, followed by Harden at 13/8, Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook at 7/2, and Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James at 22/1. Harden did manage to leapfrog Westbrook, while James has held pat in fourth. New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis might be a longshot at this point.
With roughly seven to eight games left in the regular season for most MVP candidates, Harden will likely have to repeatedly notch 50-point nights in order to catch Curry. However, this year’s race figures to be one of the tightest in recent memory.
Curry, now in his sixth season, boasts all the proper credentials that MVP voters look for. He’s the leader and top scorer for a Warriors squad that owns the best record in the league, and the offense flows through Curry’s hands with his 7.8 assists per game. Curry’s also implanted numerous eye-popping highlights into the minds of voters, most recently the crossover he pulled on Chris Paul that sent the Los Angeles Clippers guard to the floor.
In most any other season, Harden’s stats would be enough to land him the award. He’s recording career-highs in points (27.6), rebounds (5.7) assists (7.0), steals (1.9), and three-point field goal percentage (37.8), all with Rockets center and running mate Dwight Howard missing 40 total games.
Similar to Harden and Curry, Westbrook has provided voters countless MVP-caliber performances. The hyper-athletic and powerful scorer and facilitator is the far-and-away NBA leader with 10 triple-doubles this season, seven more than then the next closest, Harden and three others with three.
And to Westbrook’s credit he’s put the Thunder on his back with Kevin Durant sitting out 48 games due to injury and just last week ruled out for the rest of the season. Still, Westbrook has willed Oklahoma City into the West’s final playoff spot, 1.5 games ahead of the Pelicans with seven games left.
James, a four-time winner, continues to have another outstanding season but his chances suffer due to voter fatigue, and perhaps from Irving’s development. James leads the Cavs in points (25.7), assists (7.3), steals (1.6) and field goal percentage (48.9), but Irving’s been the one making most of the highlights while Cleveland has moved up No. 2 in the East.
As discussed last month, Curry might be the favorite but that doesn’t mean voters won’t be torn. The vote totals figure to compare with 2006’s final tally, when former Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash claimed his second trophy with 57 first-place votes, but four other players earned a minimum of 10 first-place votes.