Let’s get straight to the point, shall we? Russell Westbrook has been a star all season. He recorded his 56th triple double the other day with 21 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists. That was his 19th triple double of this season, the most any player has had since Wilt Chamberlain had 31 in 1967-68. There’s no doubt in my mind that’ll he’ll FOR SURE pass that number shortly. He’s leading the NBA in player efficiency rating at 29.70, which speaks volumes. He’s also averaging a triple double for crying out loud with 30.8 points, 10.5 assists, and 10.7 rebounds per game, which hasn’t been done since Oscar Robertson. He has also put up over 40 points this season six times.
Westbrook is first in the league in points, second in assists and 11th in rebounds. He’s also leading his team in all categories. But what’s crazy about the rebound category is that this dude is only 6’3 and he’s outrebounding some of the biggest guys in the league including DeMarcus Cousins, Giannis Antetokounmpo (say that 4 times fast), and Kevin Durant. He envisions the rebounds before they take place and grabs them with ease.
How about assists? For a while, Russell Westbrook had the nametag “selfish” on his shirt. Selfish because he didn’t pass the ball, selfish because he took the shots that many said Kevin Durant should’ve taken. Now, we see him averaging 10.5 assists per game and being a playmaker on the floor. He’s the Thunder’s backbone, the floor general, and the guy who creates plays and makes the big shots. What else could you ask for in a leader of a team? He makes everyone around him want to play better. The energy he brings to the floor is second to none. How wouldn’t that rub off on anyone? Taking plays off doesn’t exist for Westbrook and neither does taking games off. He hasn’t missed one game this season. That says a lot about a guy who is constantly energized, throwing his body around on the court. He brings it EVERY night and most people thought he’d be worn out already. Well those people obviously don’t know Russell Westbrook.
On both ends of the floor he’s making an impact and in terms of his athleticism and absolute love for the game, he’s arguably one of the best players in the league right now (sorry LeBron).
Westbrook has done enough to convince me that he’s the top candidate for MVP this season but one thing he can’t convince me of is that he doesn’t care about stats and triple doubles because CLEARLY he does. There’s no way a guy plays the way he does every night and just doesn’t care.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are 7th in the Western Conference and would be fourth in the Eastern Conference with a 24-17 record. That’s quite the record for a team not having a solid roster.
I need to give James Harden some love though because he’s not far behind Westbrook and he definitely deserves some credit.
James Harden is averaging 29.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 11.7 assists per game. He’s leading the league in assists and is 3rd in points per game. He has put up over 40 points four times this season including a game where he scored 53 in a loss against the Cavaliers.
Harden has helped lead his team to a 31-11 record and 2nd place in the Western Conference. Some may argue that the Rockets are on pace to win 62 games this season with only one All-Star player not several. We know the Warriors and Cavaliers have a roster full of All-Stars so it is a valid point, however, Harden is playing with better players than Westbrook is and he’s playing in a better system more suitable to his style of play. Houston is 3rd in offensive efficiency while the Thunder are in 15th. Again, this stat measures a TEAM not an individual player himself. Yes, I must give credit to Harden somewhat for making this stat come to life because he’s the primary play maker and shot maker on the roster. When it comes to defensive efficiency Houston is 20th and the Thunder are 8th. Are we surprised at this? No, because Harden has been known for his lack of defense.
Will the Rockets end up with the better record this season? Of course they will. Will James Harden have had a huge impact in making that possible? Absolutely. Every year we know that the MVP is measured differently whether the best player on a team is chosen, or the best player on the team with the best record is chosen. We all know the Thunder without Westbrook is like a car without an engine, not possible to run. The Rockets without Harden is like a peanut butter sandwich without the jelly. You can still eat a peanut butter sandwich, right? The Rockets would win more games without Harden present than the Thunder would without Westbrook present so wouldn’t that arguably mean that Westbrook is more of an MVP than Harden based on both individual AND team statistics.
Furthermore, Russell Westbrook is my MVP winner for the 2017 NBA season. Case closed.