Sportress of Blogitude

DeMar DeRozan says James Harden is a ‘lock’ for MVP: ‘He deserves it’

James Harden is widely viewed as the front-runner for the MVP award. And deservedly so. In fact, many believe bestowing the MVP on the Houston Rockets superstar is a virtual no-brainer.

Interestingly, however, is how one player who is also considered an MVP candidate believes Harden is a “lock” to win the award.

And that player would be Toronto Raptors superstar DeMar DeRozan.

“He earned it,” DeRozan said after Friday’s shootaround ahead of the Raptors-Rockets showdown at Air Canada Centre, via ESPN. “The things that he’s been doing all year are incredible. I think he’s a lock for it. He deserves it.”

DeRozan not only believes Harden deserves the MVP award this year, he argues Harden “should have been MVP last year,” when Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook edged out “The Beard.”

As noted, DeRozan is putting up an MVP-caliber performance of his own this season. Leading the Raptors to an Eastern Conference-best 47-17 record, DeRozan is averaging 24.0 points, 5.2 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game.

But when compared to how Harden is running roughshod over the NBA, DeRozan’s fantastic stats pale in comparison. Harden is the league-leader in scoring, averaging a career-high 30.9 points per game while also ranking third in the NBA in assists (8.9). Harden also heads the NBA-best 51-13 Rockets, who are in the midst of a 17-game winning streak.

DeRozan, it merits noting, goes way back with Harden, as they are both Los Angeles natives and former AAU teammates. So there is some bias involved, which DeRozan readily admits when stating Harden’s case as an MVP lock.

When Harden learned of DeRozan’s kind words, he downplayed his MVP credentials and shot back a compliment of his own to his longtime friend.

“That’s like my brother,” Harden said. “He’s playing at an all-time level too. He’s out there killing. He has his team in the No. 1 seed in the East. He’s doing extremely great things as well. Just to hear it from him, especially with the level he’s playing at now, means a lot to me.”