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Tracking James Harden’s odds to win 2019-20 NBA MVP award

Harden dropped 55 to help the Rockets avoid a bad loss to the Cavs this week. We’ll be tracking his performances and odds throughout 2019-20.

Houston Rockets guard James Harden dribbles the ball during the first quarter against the Dallas Mavericks at Toyota Center.  Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

December 13th, UPDATE: Harden went back to hero ball this Wednesday, dropping 55 points to help the Rockets avoid an embarrassing loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Harden finished 20-of-34 from the field, hitting 10 3-pointers with eight assists and just six turnovers in the victory. Harden continues his historic scoring pace, averaging 38.7 points per game to lead the NBA. Obviously the performance stands out, but this is customary from Harden. The Rockets are 16-8 and as long as they sit behind the Lakers and Bucks, Harden will have a tough time in his case for MVP.

December 9th, UPDATE: Harden started December with a 50-point outburst in 2OT against the Spurs. That resulted in a loss (technically), but the Rockets have since won two in a row. Problem is Harden isn’t putting up gaudy numbers. He’s had fine games, but nothing crazy by his standards in the two victories, combining for 57 points but also shooting 6-of-22 from distance. He’s always taken the Kobe approach of quantity over quality when it comes to shot selection, but if his percentages don’t improve, he may fall further behind Giannis, Luka and LeBron in the MVP race.

When it’s all said and done, The Beard may average 40 points per game this season. Right now, James Harden is off to his hottest start to a season ever for the Houston Rockets. After averaging 36.1 points per game in 2018-19, nobody really thought he could go higher, right? Well, after scoring 133 points the past three games entering Friday, he’s back on top of the NBA. He’s also essentially doing everything by himself, even with former teammate Russell Westbrook in town after a trade with the Thunder.

The Rockets are also in position to return to the playoffs, going 14-7 in the early part of the season, in the middle of the Western Conference playoff race. Some notable trends so far with Harden stand out through 21 games. He’s actually averaging MORE free throw attempts per game at 14.5, which would be a career high. Harden’s 2PT% is up over past seasons at 55.8% so far, though he’s struggling with his 3-point shot (34.8%). If he can get going from downtown, look out.

Some names surrounding Harden in the MVP race this season including Giannis Antetokounmpo (+175), Luka Doncic (+400) and LeBron James (+700). It should be a tight race the rest of the season.

James Harden NBA MVP odds: +450