MVP Race Heats Up: Giannis vs. Harden

Who's the MVP: Giannis Antetokounmpo or James Harden?

The case for Giannis: He's scoring at all-time elite levels from in the paint, with a dizzying array of dunks and plays made around the basket. Defensively, he's turning in player-of-the-year effort, averaging 12.6 boards, 1.5 blocks, and 1.3 steals per contest. His shooting percentage of 58.2% on over 17 shots per game is in part due to his prolific play around the hoop, taking 58.2% of his shots from within three feet. A quarter of all of his field goal attempts are dunks.

The case for Harden: If his video game statistics aren't enough for you, there's this. He would be seventh all-time in scoring per game (36.36) if the season ended today. He's also racking up 2.2 steals, 7.5 assists, and 6.4 rebounds per contest. He's leading the NBA by wide margins in three point attempts and makes, and free throw attempts and makes (Giannis is second in free throw attempts). Entering play Tuesday, he's got a 602-point lead for the scoring title on Paul George.

Both players are only one apart in Basketball Reference's Win Share (Giannis 13.4, Harden 13.3), while Harden's VORP on the same site leads the league by a wide margin, at 8.8 to Giannis' 7.2.

Videos: ESPN, Dan Patrick