Harden or Westbrook?
Surely Kawhi Leonard (26 ppg and 6 rpg), Isaiah Thomas (29.1 ppg), and LeBron James (26 ppg, 8.5 rpg, and 8.8 apg) are in the mix, but the Maurice Podoloff Trophy is going to either James Harden or Russell Westbrook. Both are putting up amazing statistics this year so choosing either candidate is highly justified.
Here is the correct answer… the MVP is Russell Westbrook.
This takes nothing away from James Harden‘s season. Here is a quick snapshot of his production: 29.2 ppg, 8.1 rpg, and 11.2 apg while shooting 44/34/85. The Houston Rockets currently have 12 more wins than last year, have clinched the 3rd seed in the Western Conference, and could face Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the playoffs [if only we could see that matchup before having an MVP crowned].
So why is James Harden not the MVP? Russell Westbrook, that’s why.
31.6 ppg, 10.7 rpg, and 10.4 apg while shooting 42/34/84. The Thunder lost Kevin Durant in the offseason and will still make the playoffs. That is because of Westbrook. He is on pace to be the second person in NBA history to average a triple double for the entirety of a season and he has already tied the single-season record of triple doubles for a season.
But none of these are factors that make me say Russell over James. So what is it? I’m glad you asked.
Take Harden and Westbrook off of their respective teams for this season. How do their teams fare?
I believe the Rockets (with Eric Gordon, Louis Williams, and Ryan Anderson shooting from all over the court Mike D’Antoni’s system) would make the playoffs as a 7 or 8 seed. I also believe that the Thunder would win 30 games, maybe, if Westbrook were not on the team. And that is a strong maybe.
So in terms of the MOST valuable player, by wins at least, Westbrook is the MVP. This argument does open the question of why not LeBron, and rightfully so. For this year, looking at the Cavaliers with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, it is easy to say that they would not be the first seed in the Eastern Conference, but they would still make the playoffs. They would still have the chance to make a run at the title, and so would the Rockets, the Spurs, and the Celtics. Without Westbrook the Thunder have no chance. None. Zero.
Westbrook added more wins to his team than any other player in the league this year. Because of that he will be the NBA’s MVP for the 2017 season (please also know that the man leads his team in points, rebounds, assists, steals, AND blocks; INSANITY). And no, I do not want to see co-MVPs. They obviously both deserve the award but I want a decision to be made.
Answers need questions.