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TDS exclusive: An interview with NBA insider and analyst Chris Broussard

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The Fox Sports analyst discusses his new podcast, the NBA MVP race, and potential outcomes for the Rockets' season.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

After 12 years at ESPN, NBA analyst and insider Chris Broussard is paving his own path at Fox Sports. Whether it is debating the NBA on FS1's Undisputed with Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe or on the network's radio station every Saturday night, Broussard isn't afraid to touch on any and all NBA topics.

Now, Broussard is launching his own podcast to share his opinions on the NBA. On the podcast, Broussard will continue to speak on the hottest topics surrounding the league, but will also touch on topics outside of the realm of the NBA.

I was able to speak with Broussard about his new podcast, the MVP race, and the Rockets' potential fortunes in the playoffs.

What can people expect from your new podcast, "In The Zone With Chris Broussard"?

You can expect my opinions about the hottest topics taking place in the NBA. As you heard on the first podcast, you know I've covered the NBA for twenty-one years, this is my twenty-first year covering the league, and so obviously I've learned a lot about it and have a lot of connections, so I felt it was time for me rather than just reporting on the news as I did at ESPN, I thought it was time for me to share my views and opinions, which are educated views and opinions.

We'll do it in a very fun and entertaining way, as you heard in the first episode, by mixing in a lot of hip-hop drops and hip-hop and pop culture references, so beyond it being an informative listen, it will also be an entertaining.

Finally, obviously in sports a lot of times social issues that are going on in society, they veer in to sports, whether its Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem or LeBron James making a comment on police brutality, so when it's appropriate, I will also address social issues through the lens of sports, beyond the NBA. Generally, it will be a fun, informative, and entertaining podcast.

Speaking of the first episode of the podcast, the main topic that you cover is the NBA MVP race, which has become a hot topic for fans and analysts to debate. Why do you feel James Harden is the MVP of the league at this moment?

Obviously both players are having tremendous seasons, and I don't want to take anything away from Russell Westbrook because what he's doing is absolutely phenomenal, but the fact that James Harden is leading the Rockets on a 61 win pace is absolutely incredible. I don't think anyone, outside of maybe Harden and Mike D'Antoni, and maybe not even them, would have predicted that the Rockets would be winning at this pace. Now obviously there is a long way to go and we'll have to see if they can keep it up, but what they've done to this point is just incredible and Harden obviously is the driving force behind that.

When I look at MVP, I consider your individual play, and while Harden's numbers aren't quite as high as Westbrook's (when looking at points, rebounds, and assists), if you add in field goal percentage (in all ways, including free throw percentage and three point percentage) then you can probably make a case Harden's numbers are just as good (as Westbrook's), but they're very close either way.

Then I take in to account the team success, and Westbrook has Oklahoma City on pace to win 48 games, and obviously Harden (has Houston on pace to win) 62, which is a huge factor in Harden's favor. Finally, I look at the team surrounding the superstar player. Neither Harden or Westbrook have an All-Star caliber teammate, and so I think the supporting casts are very similar. They have different styles, but they are very comparable in terms of the talent of the supporting casts.

Also, just watching the games Harden is being much more of a distributor and play-maker than Westbrook is, even though Westbrook is getting a lot of assists, I think the way he gets his (assists) aren't as good if you will, as Harden is. Harden is clearly looking for his teammates, while Westbrook does that about half the time, but a lot of it for Westbrook is him going for his own stuff, and that will then open things up for his teammates. With Harden, he is looking for his teammates first, and he has really played at a good pace, in which he knows when to look for his own shot and when to set up a teammate, which is great for chemistry and helps get the other players involved which will allow them to play at their optimum level.

Then defensively, I think Harden is putting forth effort. He's not going to be a great defender, but the stats show that he's actually playing some solid defense. So that in a nutshell is why I think Harden should be the MVP right now over Russell Westbrook.

His (Harden's) 11.8 assists (per game), are more than Steve Nash ever averaged. That tells you how great he's playing. In fact, only five players have ever averaged more assists per game than Harden. Steve Nash played in the same exact system Harden is playing in, and Nash did it with two tremendous teammates in Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire, and another one (at least for a little while) in Joe Johnson, who became an All-Star. All of those factors right now are why I think it's James Harden.

Broadening it out, with Harden at number one and Westbrook at number two, who would round out your top three for MVP right now?

LeBron James. Look if we just gave it to the best player every year, which we've never done since it isn't the "best player" award or anything like that, LeBron would be deserving every year. LeBron is the best player in the league and he's having his typical tremendous season. You take LeBron off that Cavaliers team and I think it's possible they're in the lottery. I really mean that. Kyrie (Irving) is tremendous and Kevin Love is a very good player, but I think there's a solid chance that team would end up in the lottery if LeBron wasn't on it. Therefore, LeBron is third on my MVP ballot.


As currently constructed, how far do you think this Rockets team can go in the playoffs?

Let's assume they finish as the third seed. I mean, they could catch San Antonio, I guess that's possible, but I don't think they will. So if they finish third, then I think they can obviously win the first round. Then for the second round you're looking at playing San Antonio, and I think that's a series they could win, but I wouldn't predict it. At this point, I would probably predict the Spurs, but I certainly think it's possible they could beat the Spurs. The absolutely furthest they could go would be the Conference Finals, since I don't think they can beat Golden State.

Now, I think the likeliest outcome would be that they go out in the second round to San Antonio or if they finish as the fourth seed, to Golden State. My prediction would be second round, but I think it's possible they can get to the Conference Finals, but no further than that. No chance to get to the Finals.

You can listen and subscribe to Broussard's new podcast, "In The Zone with Chris Broussard" here and you can catch him debating the hottest topics in the NBA on FS1.