We might look at Russell Westbrook’s 43-point, 11-rebound, 10-assist triple double against the Jazz last week as the apex of his season. The Thunder trailed 106-102 with :40 left when Westbrook nailed a three and then went coast-to-coast for a layup and the foul, and the Thunder won. The crowd rejoiced.
Big games off the bench from newbie Doug McDermott (16 points) and a healthy-again Enes Kanter (15 points) had OKC fans stoked about a playoff run. The Thunder had depth! Maybe they do better than 7th in the West! Westbrook is the MVP!
A week later, and OKC has dropped three straight on the road against teams that will be in the lottery: Portland, Phoenix, and Dallas.
Enter Mark Cuban, the increasingly-angry owner of the Dallas Mavericks:
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told a group of reporters before the Thunder played Dallas on Sunday at American Airlines Center that the MVP race is a toss-up between LeBron James and James Harden, and asked where Westbrook is in that mix, Cuban was blunt.
“He’s not,” Cuban said, according to ESPN.com.
“The criteria hasn’t changed,” Cuban said Sunday, according to ESPN.com. “And if I changed my mind, it’d ruin all the fun with you guys.”
Westbrook is still averaging a triple-double. He’s fallen to 3rd in assists (John Wall passed him for 2nd awhile back). Westbrook is averaging an Iverson/Kobe-like 24 shots per game (most in the NBA by far), and on pace for his worst shooting season as a pro since he was a rookie (41 percent).
So how is any of that more impressive than what James Harden has done? The Rockets are 3rd in the West, on pace for 60 wins, and he’s got an inferior supporting cast to Westbrook. Harden changed positions from shooting guard to point guard, and he’s averaging a career-high (and NBA-best) 11.3 assists per game.
And of course, there’s LeBron, who one could argue has been the MVP of the NBA for the last 10 years. LeBron’s shooting 53 percent (best he’s done in Cleveland) and hitting 39 percent of his 3-pointers, which is approaching a career best. His rebound (8.0) and assists (8.9) numbers are the best of his career. The Cavs are 1st in the East.
Tell me again why Westbrook is the MVP over Harden and LeBron?