I Don’t Know About This Whole James Harden MVP Thing

The MVP discussion always happens after the conclusion of the NBA season. On Monday, it was announced that James Harden won the NBA 2017-18 MVP award. I created my own MVP rankings to find who was the NBA’s Most Valuable Player for 2017-18 regular season. I added all the stats which can create or destroy a player’s value over a season. In my ranking system, every missed shot is worth -1 point. Every made 3 pointer is worth 3, made 2 pointer is worth 2 and made free throw is 1. In addition, every rebound, assist, steal and block is worth 1 point. Every turnover is -1 point. I totaled all of these points up for the entire season to come up with my rankings.

Player Team Pos Age Total Ranking Points
LeBron James CLE PF 33        2,681
Anthony Davis NOP PF 24        2,477
Karl-Anthony Towns MIN C 22        2,384
Russell Westbrook OKC PG 29        2,359
Giannis Antetokounmpo MIL PF 23        2,306
James Harden HOU SG 28        2,170
Andre Drummond DET C 24        2,125
Nikola Jokic DEN C 22        2,034
Kevin Durant GSW PF 29        1,947
Ben Simmons PHI PG 21        1,927

LeBron is the rightful MVP according to his stats from 2017-18 and my ranking. Sure, you could say that some players on the list were out some of the season and didn’t play as many minutes. First off, that helps LeBron’s case more because if you’re injured you aren’t providing any value so why should that be taken into account for the Most Valuable Player award? It is impressive too that LeBron played all 82 games this season and with everyone complaining about people taking games off, he shouldn’t be penalized for actually playing all of them. Let’s look at the same rankings, but on a per minute basis. 

Player Team Pos Age Total Ranking Points/ Minute
Anthony Davis NOP PF 24 0.908
LeBron James CLE PF 33 0.886
Stephen Curry GSW PG 29 0.853
James Harden HOU SG 28 0.851
Hassan Whiteside MIA C 28 0.839
Kevin Durant GSW PF 29 0.837
Giannis Antetokounmpo MIL PF 23 0.837
Joel Embiid PHI C 23 0.835
Nikola Jokic DEN C 22 0.833
Enes Kanter NYK C 25 0.829

Anthony Davis is at the top now as the Most Valuable Player per minute last season. He missed 10 games in 2018 which is why he was not at the top of the overall MVP ranking. Either way, James Harden is not first. I think he did not deserve the MVP this year and it should have gone to LeBron. Just to look at in another way, let’s compare the individual stats of LeBron and James Harden last season.


LeBron was better in every key statistic except for steals, free throw percentage and threes made (although he did shoot the same percentage). Then he was better in every key statistic per game except steals and points. However, LeBron also had the same three point percentage and a much better field goal percentage. What we can conclude from both my algorithm and by looking and comparing statistics is that there is no way James Harden should be MVP and that it should probably be LeBron’s MVP award.

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