LeBron’s trainwreck, Harden’s MVP campaign and a New York dumpster fire

A basketball player bounces the ball as another prepared to block him.
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James Harden is the MVP, the Lakers are missing the playoffs and the Knicks still suck — not much has changed since 2018.

Whether your team is just waiting until the playoffs, praying for losses or trying to clinch that final seed, let’s take a look at how the rest of this season is shaping up.

 

James Harden

36.7 points

7.6 assists

6.6 rebounds

Let’s just take a moment to appreciate the absurdity of that stat line. If Russell Westbrook made triple doubles seem mundane, James Harden has taken that concept to a whole new level.

Harden scored 30 or more points for 32 straight games this season, ending his streak with a pathetic 28 points against the Atlanta Hawks.

Now I know what you’re thinking, 28 points, he’s washed — his career is practically over, done.

He dropped 58 points against the Heat two games later.

Love him or hate him, what the Beard is doing is historic, and whether or not Giannis Antetokounmpo ends up taking the MVP, James Harden has had the best NBA season of 2019.

 

LeBron’s Lakers

Remember right before the season started?

The Lakers had the best player in the world, Brandon Ingram was practically better than Kevin Durant, and Kyle Kuzma was the second coming of Kobe Bryant.

Then, they started 0-3, and the entire world burned down.

But ,they then found their rhythm, getting as high as the fourth seed midway through the season. Their magical run was then capped off by a resounding win versus the Warriors on Christmas Day until reality caught up to them and the 34-year-old LeBron, tasked with carrying an entire team, finally broke down.

LeBron hasn’t missed this many games since the 2012 NBA season, back when he was still in his absolute athletic prime. This season is different. After LeBron went down, the Lakers went 7-11 in their next 18 games, dropping them all the way down to the 10th seed.

With the Lakers 4.5 games out of the 8 seed and one of the hardest schedules remaining the NBA, LeBron is going to have play perfect to make sure he’s still playing after game 82. After his dominant run last postseason, I’ve learned never to count LeBron out. But, after watching him struggle to play against some of the league’s worst, I don’t know if this is the same LeBron we’ve seen in years past.

The NBA is better when LeBron is in the playoffs, but this might be the first time in over a decade where he’s knocked out of the race before even getting to the starting line.

 

The Knicks want Zion, and KD and Kyrie

Kristaps Porzingis was a 7’3” shot* blocking big with the skills of a guard.

He was the face of New York basketball, and the Knicks had the next four years of his career on lockdown, regardless of whether or not he wanted to stay.

They decided to trade him for Dennis Smith Jr. and cap space.

While DSJ has been a stud for New York so far, the hyperathletic point guard is not the franchise cornerstone that Porzingis was. But, that’s not the point.

The Knicks are betting big on themselves that they can nab Durant and Irving this summer, the two highest profile free agents of the summer, and rocket themselves back into relevancy.

If it works, they’ll come out the clear winners of the Porzingis trade. If not, let’s hope they get Zion this year, and that a core of Ntilikina, Knox, Smith Jr. and Williamson will be valuable enough to trade away the next time a big free agent comes along.

Harshil Desai writes for Bear Bytes, the Daily Californian’s sports blog. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @harshdailycal.