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12 stats that show why this is the best NBA MVP race of all time

Good luck picking a winner when all four top candidates are making history on a nightly basis.

NBA All-Star Game 2017 - Practice Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

There hasn’t been an NBA MVP race this hotly contested among four candidates since 2008, when Kobe Bryant snagged the award over Kevin Garnett, Chris Paul, and LeBron James. But this year is like 2008 on steroids.

You have the video game numbers of James Harden and Russell Westbrook, the historic two-way dominance of Kawhi Leonard, and that LeBron James fella doing the usual LeBron things. If you need some proof of just how agonizing picking a winner will be, consider how many statistical benchmarks these four candidates have hit.

Warning: you might find some of them mind-boggling.

1. James Harden topped 2,300 points and 900 assists.

Not only is Tiny Archibald in 1973 the only other player that’s also done so, but even lowering the standard to 2,000 points and 700 assists only opens the door for Westbrook and Oscar Robertson.

2. Kawhi Leonard had a six-game stretch in mid-January where he scored at least 30 points and made at least half his shots in each contest.

In the last 30 years, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Michael Jordan are the only other wings that have done that.

3. James Harden averaged over 29 points per game with a true shooting percentage north of 60.

The only guards to have ever hit those marks of volume and efficiency in a season are Michael Jordan and Stephen Curry.

4. LeBron James averaged 26.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 8.7 assists with a 59 effective field goal percentage.

No one has ever averaged at least 25 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists with an effective field goal percentage topping 55.

5. James Harden put together three different four-game streaks of at least 30 points and 10 assists.

Since 1975, the entire rest of the NBA has combined for just two such streaks (Michael Jordan in April 1989 and Russell Westbrook in March 2017).

6. Russell Westbrook had nine games of at least 25 points, 12 rebounds, and 12 assists this season.

In the last 35 years, only Magic Johnson has that many career 25-12-12 games.

7. James Harden had double-digit assists in 60 games.

Some of the best passers of all time -- guys like Steve Nash, Chris Paul, Jason Kidd, and Mark Jackson -- have never reached that mark.

8. In his first 14 games after the All-Star break, LeBron James put up 378 points, 152 rebounds, and 121 assists.

Just how outrageous is that run? In the last 25 years, even if you gave everyone else an extra two games, only one person has ever reached those numbers over any 16-game stretch: Russell Westbrook. One slight difference? James’ effective field goal percentage in his stretch was 61, whereas Westbrook’s topped out at 49.

9. Before Kawhi Leonard, big men had won 24 of the 26 previous Defensive Player of the Year awards.

Leonard stands a real chance to win his third straight Defensive Player of the Year award. If he wins that award, he’d join Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon as the only players to ever win the award while averaging 25 points per game.

10. James Harden averaged 1.537 points per shot.

He joined Adrian Dantley and Karl Malone as the only players to hit that high a figure in a season in which they took at least 18 shots per game.

11. LeBron James posted a career high in rebounds and assists per game.

Keep in mind that James has already won four MVPs and probably deserved at least one other one.

12. Russell Westbrook became the first player since Oscar Robertson 55 years ago to average a triple-double.

You knew that, but it’s worth mentioning again.