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James Harden puts it out there: ‘I feel as though I am the MVP’

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Shortly after indicating he’d prefer not to discuss such matters, Houston Rockets superstar James Harden laid it all out on the line and declared that he is the NBA’s Most Valuable Player.

“I feel as though I am the MVP,” Harden said via NBA.com’s Fran Blinebury. “I think the MVP is the most valuable player to your team. Obviously you have to be winning and be one of the top teams in this league and we are.

“I’m not taking credit away from anybody else in the league. But I’ve been consistent all year. I’ve just been doing the right things to put my team in situations to win, considering all of the different circumstances we’ve had to deal with.”

It’s difficult to poke any holes in Harden’s argument. He leads the league in scoring (27.6 points per game) and kept the Rockets on a roll as the team has dealt with a litany of injuries (171 games lost), including a knee issue that sidelined Dwight Howard for 26 straight games. During that stretch, Harden led the Rockets to a 17-9 record.

Shortly after Howard’s return, the Rockets lost Pat Beverley for the season with torn wrist ligaments. Soon after that, Donatas Motiejunas was declared out for the season and the playoffs with a serious back injury.

And yet, Harden keeps scoring and the Rockets keep winning.

Advanced stats further legitimize Harden as the MVP favorite. He trails only the Pelicans big man Anthony Davis in PIE (Player Impact Estimate) at 18.6 percent, ahead of his main competition for MVP, Warriors superstar Stephen Curry (17.7 percent).

Harden doesn’t mean any disrespect to his primary MVP rival, it’s only he feels he’s been more important to his team than Curry.

“I’m looking at all those things put together,” Harden said. “Like I said, not taking away from Steph or that team. It’s an unbelievable season that they’re having. But we’re having a pretty good season as well with all the injuries and all that we’ve been going through this season.

“Look, I understand that people can go either way with it. But for the most valuable player, I think I would have the edge.”

He may be right.

(photo credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)