James Harden declared himself the MVP of the 2020-21 NBA season.

Confident.

Braggadocious.

Entertaining.

And perhaps not wrong.

Asked after a recent 44-point, 14-rebound, eight-assist performance if he belonged in the MVP conversation, Harden said, “I feel like I am the MVP.”

Boasting aside, and the fact the award is voted on by people other than Harden, his point is worth considering.

He is a vital part of the MVP conversation without question.

Could Harden win his second MVP and become the first player to win the award after an in-season trade?

It’s trending that way because of Harden’s play and a possibly thinning field withinjuries to Joel Embiid and LeBron James.

Let’s start with Harden’s performance.

The Nets are 25-9 since they acquired Harden – with one loss coming when Harden didn’t play – and he has averaged 26.4 points, 11.4 assists and 8.2 rebounds and shot 46.3% from the field and 36.2% on 3-pointers.

Brooklyn has played just seven games with Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in the lineup, but even when Harden has been in the lineup without Irving and Durant, the Nets still win.