DeMar DeRozan says James Harden a 'lock' to win Kia MVP this season
From NBA media reports
To Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan, his friend and fellow shooting guard James Harden has already secured the Kia MVP Award for 2017-18.
The MVP chase has intensified in recent weeks, with players such as Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans and Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers stirring some MVP buzz. Their case for the award — along with those of fellow contenders LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and DeRozan himself — have often been dwarfed by that of Harden’s, though.
The guard is the league’s leading scorer (30.9 ppg) and has keyed the 17-game win streak Houston is in the midst of. Houston visits Toronto tonight (7:30 ET, NBA League Pass) in a showdown of the top two teams in each conference and of All-Star guards in Harden and DeRozan.
ESPN’s Tim MacMahon has more from DeRozan, who explained why Harden is his MVP favorite:
“He earned it,” DeRozan said after Friday’s shootaround, hours before the Raptors and Rockets will meet in a clash of the first-place teams from each conference. “The things that he’s been doing all year are incredible. I think he’s a lock for it. He deserves it.”
DeRozan said Harden “should have been MVP last year,” when Harden was second in the voting behind Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, the second runner-up finish of the Rockets star’s career.
DeRozan doesn’t think Harden has any legitimate MVP competition. But DeRozan readily admits that he’s biased toward his friend, fellow Los Angeles native and former AAU teammate.
“I knew him when he didn’t have a lick of hair on his face,” said DeRozan, who is averaging 24.0 points and 5.2 assists per game for the 47-17 Raptors. “It just came about, man. We’ve grown. We talk about it a lot, to where we never thought we’d be in a position that we are today. To be able to have that type of conversation with a guy that you grew up with, that you went through every stage with, it’s definitely crazy to see.
“He was always nice. He was always nice, but none of us thought we would be where we are today. We would be lying to you if we told you we knew we would be who we are today. But like I said, to be 28 years old and be able to talk about the things we’ve accomplished, that’s the most incredible thing.”
Harden, who was on Team Stephen with DeRozan in the 2018 NBA All-Star Game, has finished in the top three in Kia MVP voting in three of the last four seasons. He was second last season, second in 2014-15 and fifth in 2013-14.
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