The recency bias is strong with you. Of course Harden is part of the MVP conversation. Was the best offensive player on a top 10 all-time offense. The Rockets massively overachieved, having a better record than even the loaded Cavs despite playing in the tougher Western Conference. Oh, and he led the league in win shares.
Playoff basketball still is all about stars though. That’s been the winning formula for quite some time and it looks like we’ll see another rematch of the Cavs (3 stars) vs the Warriors (4 stars).
The Rockets have exactly one star and Daryl Morey needs to find more if his team wants to leap over the Spurs (2 stars, plus a few more former stars and other elite role players).
Kawhi was the lone star for most of the season but LaMarcus Aldridge reminded us that yes, he’s still really freaking good at basketball too.