Picking the NBA MVP was a chore this time last year. This year, it's a different story. 

As the Association hits its annual All-Star break, it's time for us to once again take a step back and survey the league to determine who deserves to be blessed with the hardware—we're talking naming our Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, Most Improved Player, and Coach of the Year. 

As we take a week off from meaningful basketball, we bestow the league's most prestigious honors on some of the brightest stars but are saving the top award for The Beard for a second straight season. Remember, Harden didn't take it home last year after we gave him the nod at the break. Russell Westbrook played like a madman down the stretch and picked up the award. But Russ is out of the running right now and Harden's only competition might be LeBron James. Here are all the reasons why the Rockets dynamic guard should be the 2017-18 NBA MVP with less than eight weeks left before the playoffs start. 

Illustrations by @adambomb44.