Throughout the year, Russell Westbrook has garnered a lot of media attention and a lot of criticism. He finished ’16-’17 as the first player the get 42 triple-doubles in one season, the first player to record a 50-point triple-double in a playoff game, the second player to average a triple double and the third player to average a triple-double in the playoffs. Yet there’s still a debate who had the better season: Westbrook (OKC) or James Harden (Rockets).
It’s an argument over styles as much as players; Steph Curry says it should be Harden, while Allen Iverson is in team Westbrook. People who believes Harden deserves the MVP usually argue that he did a better job leading his team to victory, while Westbrook’s supporters argued that he had a much better individual performance. That narrative continued through to the playoffs, where Westbrook had a record setting series, but Harden’s team won.
Following the series, Patrick Beverly, point guard for the Houston Rockets, told reporters
“[Westbrook’s] a really good player… He looked up and said, ‘No one can guard me. I got 40 points,’ and ‘I’m like, ‘That’s nice. It took 34 shots to get it.’
“I’m not over here trying to bash anybody. Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t. ”
That’s the problem: numbers don’t lie – and the numbers are working against Westbrook almost as much as they’re working for him. Matt Hardesty of The Daily Nebraskan
stated the case against Westbrook pretty succinctly:
“while he has led Oklahoma City back to the playoffs in his first season without Kevin Durant, the overall performance of his team isn’t nearly as good as what most of the previous MVPs have led their teams to. Every MVP since 1979 has led their team to a top three finish in their conference, and all but one have won at least one series in the NBA Playoffs.”
However, having just read that, you should know that Hardesty still thinks Westbrook should be MVP, flaws and all.
- Westbrook’s insane usage rate is responsible for his stats
- Westbrook is intentionally padding his numbers
- Wins matter
- Westbrook’s TS% is the lowest among MVP candidates
- James Harden had a historic season, too (setting personal career highs and having one of the most efficient seasons in history)
Of course, the MVP race isn’t just between Harden and Westbrook. Colin Cowherd has spent the season arguing that Lebron James
should win the MVP again (and probably all the years), and at some point reporters started calling Kawhi Leonard the second best player
in the world. But, for all intents and purposes, this is a competition between just two men.
In March, polling
showed that Harden might edge out Westbrook for the honor; but, when SB Nation’s The Dream Shake
blog talked to 64 of the 100 MVP voters, they found that Russ was coming out ahead.
The winner will be announced on June 26th at the first ever NBA Awards