James Harden last won the NBA MVP in 2018 when he was suiting up for the Houston Rockets. However, his chances of replicating such success has been slowed down by the NBA’s new foul-baiting rules.
Expectations were high on Harden to compete for MVP. After all, with Kyrie Irving still refusing to get vaccinated and the Nets preventing him to play, The Beard has as much chance as his teammate Kevin Durant to be in contention for the highest individual award in the NBA.
Nonetheless, with the new alterations to the rules in foul baiting, Harden has failed to adjust yet because of his play style of racking up free throw attempts every game. The drastic drop-off in his free throw production is clearly a reason for his abysmal performance in the first six games for the Nets.
Harden found his rejuvenated self in their Friday night game against the Indiana Pacers by tallying 29 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. More importantly, he converted 16 free throws from his 19 attempts. As he continues to find his rhythm early in the season, Harden could still possibly elevate himself as one of the individuals in the MVP conversation. Additionally, Brooklyn will likely finish as a top two seed in the Eastern Conference, which should give Harden some case for the recognition.