Rockets' James Harden on Winning a 2nd MVP: Need It for Sure. And I'm Getting It

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 2, 2019

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - DECEMBER 29:  James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets stands on the court during a NBA game against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center on December 29, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. 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.  (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Houston Rockets star James Harden has his eyes on a second straight NBA Most Valuable Player Award.

"I need it," Harden said of the honor, per Bleacher Report's Will Gottlieb. "I need it for sure. And I'm getting it."

Harden is averaging a league-high 33.3 points along with 5.8 rebounds and 8.4 assists through 33 games.

Following their 107-104 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Dec. 8, the Rockets fell to 11-14, and Harden's hopes of an MVP repeat appeared to be fading fast. Then, Houston reeled off 10 wins over its next 11 games, a run sparked largely by the team's best player.

During the run, Harden averaged 39.7 points while shooting 44.1 percent from the field and 41.5 percent from three-point range, per Basketball Reference.

Voter fatigue can become an issue for postseason awards when a star is in the MVP conversation year after year. If recent history is any indication, though, Harden should avoid that problem. Since 2000, Tim Duncan, Steve Nash, LeBron James and Stephen Curry have all won the award in back-to-back years.

Plenty of contenders have emerged for the NBA's highest individual honor, and Giannis Antetokounmpo leads the pack. The Milwaukee Bucks forward is averaging 26.3 points and 12.6 rebounds and has the Bucks sitting first in the Eastern Conference at 26-10.

Harden probably can't keep up his blistering pace much longer, but in a tight Western Conference in which fourth-placed Houston and eighth-placed San Antonio are separated by a single game, the Rockets may need him to. Chris Paul is out with a hamstring injury, and Harden has even less of a supporting cast than he did during his MVP campaign.

While this season was shaping up to be a coronation of sorts for Antetokounmpo, Harden may spoil the occasion for the Greek Freak.

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