James Harden weighs in on rest and MVP debates: Playing in 82 games should matter

The two biggest conversations heading into the final few weeks of the regular season are focused on players resting and who should win the MVP award. On Tuesday, James Harden, who has suited up for every game for the Rockets this season, weighed in on both debates, saying that he believes playing in every game should matter in determining who wins the league’s most coveted award. More, via ESPN:

“Yeah, because you’re not leaving your teammates out there to dry, “ Harden said Tuesday morning, before the Rockets’ game against the Warriors. “For me, I worry about always having my teammates’ back and always being out there.”

“I’m going to have [my teammates’] back and they know that they have mine as well,” said Harden, who is second in the league in points and first in assists. “For the coaching staff and the fans, especially here in Houston, the front office, I’m here to play.”

Playing every night is an impressive achievement, and one Harden should be proud of; it’s not easy to put up 29.4 points, 11.3 assists, and 8 rebounds per game while never taking a night off. 

However, “leaving your teammates out there to dry” is a little harsh, especially considering the decision to rest is often made by the coaching staff or management. As LeBron James noted the other week, after he sat out against the Clippers, he would have preferred to play. 

“Obviously it sucks at times because certain games you only play in certain cities once, or you play certain teams once on their home floor, but for me personally, I want to play in every game,” he said. “I wanted to play last night, but my coach felt like it was best that I didn’t play last night, so I’m going to go with my coach and he’s never steered me wrong.”

In one of the closest MVP races in recent memory, with little to separate the impressive resumes of Harden, Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James, who have emerged as the four leading candidates for the honor, achievements like having played every game should be taken into account. 

Only, however, as a positive for one player. Harden, and likewise Westbrook, who has also not missed a game for the Thunder this season, should be praised, but LeBron and Kawhi shouldn’t be knocked for sitting out a few games here or there. 

NBA Writer

Jack Maloney lives and writes in Milwaukee, where, like the Bucks, he is trying to own the future. Full Bio

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