As the 2018-2019 NBA regular season comes to a close, there is endless speculation over who will be the NBA MVP, even before the playoffs start. Many sports analysts have narrowed the MVP candidates down to two players: the Houston Rockets' James Harden and the Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo. Both players may be the primary reason their respective teams have experienced success this season, although they both have solid supporting casts. A few teams have already clinched playoff berths, including Houston and Milwaukee. These teams recently squared off in Milwaukee with Harden and Antetokounmpo leading the way. It ended in a 108-94 victory for the Bucks.
Harden's case for MVP is extremely strong, as he is having the best offensive season of his career. Harden is regarded as one of the best scorers of this generation, but this is impressive even for his lofty standards. He is currently averaging a staggering 36.2 points per game with 341 made three-pointers so far this season. He has already claimed the second-most three-pointers in a single season with this number, behind Stephen Curry's 402 in 2015-16. Houston still has seven games left to play in the season, but they have clinched a playoff berth after a precarious 11-14 start to their season. They currently boast a 47-28 record with the fourth seed in the Western Conference, largely thanks to Harden carrying the team with key role players injured. He posted the second-highest streak of 30+ point games in NBA history while doing so, with 32.
Antetokounmpo's case for MVP is also sturdy. The Bucks currently boast the best record in the NBA at 56-19, largely due to his production. The three-time NBA All-Star is currently averaging 27.3 points, 12.6 rebounds and six assists per game and has been a tour de force at the rim, consistently dominating opponents and throwing down dunks. Antetokounmpo's defense has also been noteworthy, as he boasts the best defensive rating in the NBA at 100.5. He has taken advantage of his sizable frame and long arms to block shots on a consistent basis and has helped elevate Milwaukee's defense to the best in the league with his presence. It is difficult to name a player more well-rounded than Antetokounmpo this year.
Harden and Antetokounmpo are neck-and-neck for the MVP this season, and their cases will only be boosted if they take their respective teams on a deep playoff run.