This year’s MVP race is more of a headache than the Warriors blowing a 3-1 lead. With the regular season over, the front runners for season MVP can arguably be narrowed to Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Mutually, these players have carried their respective teams historically into this year’s post season with career highs, triple doubles, and blatant disrespect for defenders.
But who takes home the hardware? The guy who etched his own name in history and exceeded the expectations of pretty much everyone but him? What about the guy who got a new coach and a new job and still carried his team to the third best record in the league?
When Durant left the Thunder for reasons no one cares about, we immediately converted OKC’s season to a rebuilding year. We even laughed and joked saying Westbrook would probably need a triple double just to stay relevant.
Fast forward the NBA season and Russell Westbrook has had the best year of any athlete and is indeed averaging a triple double all while making history. Concluding the regular season, the Brodie surpassed triple double and all around great, Oscar Robertson, scoring his 42nd triple double of the regular season. The original record of 41 triple doubles stood for over 5 decades.
— Russell Westbrook (@russwest44) April 13, 2017
To make his case for MVP even more stressful, Westbrook scored 50, 16, and 10 and eliminated any chances of the Denver Nuggets making the playoffs with a mile high buzzer beater to win the game. This was his fourth 50 point game of the season and the fifth of his career.
“My job is to come out and do whatever it takes to win, and that’s what I try to do every night.”- Russell Westbrook
I can go on and on but the fact is, statistically speaking, Russell Westbrook has shattered the books this year. He’s scoring the most points of his career all the while somewhat getting the majority of his teammates involved (Steven Adams and Vic Oladipo basically).
But as James Harden commented, it’s about winning. Harden made that statement because based on history, the MVP award has always gone to the player on a team that has won at least 50 games. Harden has 55 wins while Westbrook finished with 47
“I thought winning was what this was about.”- James Harden
That feeling when you drop 37-9-7 on the way to embarrassing the “MVP” in a game 1 blowout 😂🐐 https://t.co/fW1kvjKNM3
— Lebron James Harden (@lbjamesharden) April 17, 2017
Granted, the Thunder are definitely having much more of a winning season than we anticipated. But Harden has taken his Houston Rockets team to new heights. Winning fourteen more games than last year (41-41), James Harden is responsible for the Rockets finishing third in the west; five spots up from their eighth place finish last season. He did have some help from his new head coach Mike D’Antoni who may have won coach of the year again without playing an ounce of defense.
With a new coach and a new job running the point, if you add career highs in points and assists(not to mention leading the league in assists), you have MVP candidate James Harden. He may not say much in a post-game interview, but you can’t ignore the competitor in Harden or the makeshift pot he’s been stirring up all season.
And the Award Goes to…
Harden and Westbrook have competed at a high level consistently throughout the season and as fans, we haven’t been more entertained. With a first round playoff matchup between the two well underway, it’s safe to say that the decision on this year’s MVP recipient is in the right hands; their own.