The NBA MVP debate seems to have been going on forever now… Westbrook? Harden? Lebron? Kawhi? Thomas? Giannis?
Granted all of them are phenomenal options, all with deserving cases for why they’re the Most Valuable Player that the 2016-2017 NBA Season had to offer. Everybody out there has their own respective opinions, and while this article may be mine, I think upon reading this you should see this isn’t really a contest. Russell Westbrook undoubtedly belongs as your NBA Most Valuable Player.
Important to Note: In this article I mention PER a lot. PER is Player Efficiency Rating, which in Layman’s terms just means a rating that takes all the positive things a player does, subtracts the negative and breaks it down by minutes played, to calculate a PER.
First off, let’s eliminate the unrealistic contenders in this race, starting with Giannis. While the dude may be an absolute freak of nature, leading a mediocre Bucks roster to the Eastern Confrence’s six seed, his résumé simply doesn’t match up with the rest of the players on this list.
|22.9 Points||5.4 Assists||8.8 Rebounds||26.13 PER|
However, if Giannis keeps this kind of play up, he’s an NBA Superstar for years to come and the things he can do on a basketball court are unbelievable. IF he can develop a jump shot at this level, he may just be the next NBA great.
Next up, Lebron James. To keep this simple, Lebron’s supporting cast is way to good to be MVP. When you have the likes of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, JR Smith, Thompson, Frye, Korver, the list goes on for the Cavs and they still finished as the 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. For whatever reason, the Cavs did not meet the expectations of an NBA defending champion, and thus you can not crown Lebron MVP of this season, if you take him off the Cavs, that team is still good enough to make the playoffs in a typically weak Eastern Conference.
Being a Celtics fan, I love Isaiah Thomas, he is the sole reason the Celtics are the 1 seed out East and despite currently being down 2-0 to the Bulls, he has carried them to where they are. Isaiah bolstered an impressive stat-line this season for sure.
|28.9 Points||5.9 Assists||2.7 Rebounds||26.59 PER|
However the C’s just have not given him a great supporting cast to work with. That is not Ainge’s fault as he knows this team is not ready to beat Cleveland in a 7-game series, they can’t even beat Chicago right now for crying out loud. However post-season success should not factor into MVP voting, nor will it. Thomas just doesn’t have the numbers to hang with the best of MVP finalists this season. However watch IT in the Most Improved Player race.
Following up Isaiah is Kawhi Leonard. Leading the Spurs to 60 wins out West is something to be proud of and is also why I have Greg Popovich as my Coach of the Year. He is the only coach who met his teams, maybe even surpassed the expectations of his team. The Spurs have been a mainstay in the Western Conference, and this season is especially impressive following the retirement of future hall of famer, Tim Duncan. While Kawhi may have a legitimate case for MVP for years to come, a lot of the Spurs success is based on the system Popovich puts into place for them, thus I’m going to have to leave Kawhi in 3rd Place in my MVP voting.
So that leaves Harden and Westbrook just as you would expect and if we break down their body of work, team success, and the players around them. All three of those are so crucial in determining who is the MOST VALUABLE. I can’t stress enough that this is what this award is about, if it was the best player, Lebron would win every year because he no doubt is the best player in the World.
Let’s start with Harden.
His numbers are as follows
|29.1 Points||11.2 Assists||8.1 Rebounds||27.43 PER|
Also of Note: Harden led the league in Win Shares with 15 (Wins contributed to)
Now, by no means am I saying these numbers are bad, because these numbers are outstanding. HOWEVER, let it be known the Rockets were second in offensive efficiency this season, only trailing Golden State. Harden was also blessed with the Rockets setting an NBA record in 3-pointers made in a single season. Harden was also blessed with good shooting around him to make that possible in the likes of Ryan Anderson, Trevor Ariza, Eric Gordon, Lou Williams, and Patrick Beverley. Let it be know that of the 18 Rockets to suit up this year, 14 had double digit PER, 5 were over a 15.0 PER (League Average), and Clint Capela was second of the team with a PER of 21.5. While Harden lead the Rockets to a better record than the Thunder, it’s safe to say he had more help.
Now for Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook is 5th in the NBA this season with 13.1 Win Shares but take this into consideration, they won less games than the Rockets.
Now, for the rest of his body of work. It’s well known Westbrook averaged a triple-double
|31.6 Points||10.4 Assists||10.7 Rebounds||30.70 PER|
also leading the league in Points Per Game (Harden was Second) this Season, and PER (Harden was 5th). Those numbers right there are absolutely ridiculous to put up over an entire season, considering he is the second person to do that, it is remarkable. While this was the year of the triple-double, his body of work is no less impressive, the triple-double is still a very rare accomplishment. Westrbook was not blessed with an abundance of talent this year, also, their other all-star got up and left town, and Ibaka was dealt to Orlando for a mildly under-achieving Victor Oladipo. Westbrook was left with a shit-show to say the least, and you take him off that team and that roster would compete with the likes of Brooklyn and Orlando for worst in the league. Westbrook carried the Thunder in every statistical category with the exception of blocks in which Roberson lead them, but that is just a side bar. With the 19 players that suited up for the Thunder this year, 10 had a double digit PER, 3 had one over 15, and one of those three is Josh Huestis who played in 2 games and averaged 15 minutes, so it’s essentially two players over league average, all of which is less than the Houston Rockets.
The only other time somebody averaged a triple double, Oscar Robertson did it in 1961-1962 and he finished 3rd MVP Voting, behind Wilt Chamberlin who averaged a modest (kidding) 50 POINTS A GAME! and Bill Russell who had a great season but somehow won MVP over those two un-worldly stat-lines.
Just a reminder, nobody has those kind of stat-lines this year besides Westbrook himself.
So please give this man the MVP, or I’ve lost all hope.