If you’re living and breathing in 2017, you’ve heard the talk: Westbrook vs. Harden for MVP. Both players are having incredible seasons, playing at historic rates. Ex-player Kobe Bryant struggles so much to pick a definite winner that he argues there should be a “Co-MVP” award for the first time ever. Before I give my input on the winner, let me first say “Co-MVP? This is the NBA, not UPWARD sports. There ARE winner and losers.”
The votes are already in and will be revealed by Drake at an awards ceremony June 26. To prevent a Steve Harvey situation, I think it’s important that I give my opinion on who should be the 2016-2017 regular season MVP.
Standing at 6’3”, weighing 200 lbs from the University of California in Los Angeles, number zero, RUUUUUUUSSSEELLLL WESTBROOK!!! There is NO question that Russell Westbrook, in my opinion, is the MVP.
The Rockets improved to 55-27, third place in the West after finishing 41-41 last season. The Thunder finished 47-35, sixth place in the West after going 55-27.
Westbrook finished the season averaging a triple double, 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.4 assists. Harden, in a switch to point guard, averaged 29.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 11.2 assists.
Below, I’m going to address a few fan tweets and give my take on why Russell Westbrook is most deserving of the award.
Mr. Hazouri, you tried to refute the argument that Russell has very little support players surrounding him. I would simply have to disagree. Neither player is on a “superteam” like our friends in the Bay and in the Land. But based on support players alone, the Rockets have Lou Williams and Eric Gordon coming off the bench, averaging a combined 33 points per game. Westbrook has the help of Victor Oladipo on the wing and the Stache bros in the post, but they don’t bring that much offense. The Thunder, with Russ on the floor, averaged 107.9 points per 100 possessions, whereas when he is on the bench, they only score 97.4 points per 100. The latter is similar to the 10-win 76ers from 2015 (96.6). The Rockets, with Harden scored 111.8 points per 100 possessions versus 106.5 points without Harden. That being said, Mr. Hazouri, the Rockets are better statistically than the Thunder, even without Harden on the floor.
Dr. Pederson, it was your audacious statement that actually prompted me to give my input on the subject. You are correct in your statement, but far from convincing. James Harden did lead the NBA in double-doubles this year with 64 total. Right behind him, though, in second place is Mr. Westbrook with 62. As for triple doubles, the gap is significantly larger. Westbrook finished the season with 42 triple doubles compared to Harden’s 22. As you always say, “To effectively persuade an audience, organizations must provide evidence that coincides with the audience’s existing beliefs”.
Dr. Kirkpatrick, I appreciate your tweet, but refuse to buy your argument. When it comes to the crunch time of games, defined as the final five minutes with the game within 5 points either way, Russell Westbrook is an absolute monster. We all remember the game against the Denver Nuggets on April 9 where Russ willed the Thunder to victory. He scored 18 of his teams’ final 21 points, including the buzzerbeater from 35 feet out. In the crunch time of games, Westbrook leads the league shooting 44% from the field and points per 100 possessions, at 72.4. During these final minutes, OKC is +24.9 points when he is on the court.
Please provide your comments below if you agree or disagree but don’t @ me.
Statistics from ESPN.com