James Harden Says Playing 82 Games Should Matter in NBA MVP Race

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMarch 28, 2017

HOUSTON, TX - MARCH 26:  James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets shoots a foul shot against the Oklahoma City Thunder on March 26, 2017 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

Houston Rockets star James Harden hasn't missed a game this season and believes that should matter in the MVP race.

"Yeah, because you're not leaving your teammates out there to dry," Harden said Tuesday, per Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com. "For me, I worry about always having my teammates' back and always being out there."

Watkins pointed out Oklahoma City Thunder MVP candidate Russell Westbrook hasn't missed a game this season either, although fellow candidates LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and Isaiah Thomas have all missed time.

On Tuesday, Harden's Rockets play the Golden State Warriors, who turned heads earlier this season when they rested Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala during a 107-85 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in what figured to be one of the season's marquee nationally televised games.

Resting players has become such a talking point that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver sent a memo to team owners, calling it "an extremely significant issue for our league," per Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com.

Harden is not contributing to that perceived problem considering he has played more minutes (8,772) in the last three seasons than any other player, per Watkins.

His durability is not the only thing working in his favor in the crowded MVP race. He is second in the league in points per game (29.4) and first in assists per game (11.3), and his Rockets are 51-22.

If Harden's comments are any indication, he will be on the floor for the remainder of the schedule as they battle for postseason positioning.

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