The MVP race this all sewn up, right? James Harden will edge out LeBron for MVP, and there may be some disagreement, but overall, Harden’s been so good, it’s difficult to argue it. LeBron definitely has a case, but he also has four MVP awards, and Harden has none, and yes, voters care about that.
But, uh, what about Russell Westbrook? With three games left in the season, Westbrook needs a total of 41 rebounds to average a triple double again.
Yet nobody’s talking about it. What’s funny is that the Thunder went 47-35 last year, and finished 6th in the West; this year, after adding Carmelo Anthony and Paul George, OKC is 45-34 and sixth in the West. Westbrook’s numbers are a little worse than last year, but remember, the focus last year was, BUT HE AVERAGED A TRIPLE DOUBLE!
2016-2017: 42% FG, 34% 3FG, 84% FT, 31.6 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 10.4 apg, 5.4 turnovers per game
2017-2018: 45% FG, 29% 3FG, 73% FT, 25.6 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 10.1 apg, 4.8 turnovers per game
So what happens if Westbrook averages a triple double again? Does he get in the MVP race? Or is it no big deal because he did it last year?
Last year, my vote for MVP was Harden, because with a new coach and a position change, he led the NBA in assists. I couldn’t vote for Westbrook because they were a 6th place team. I was clearly in the minority.
Well, now Westbrook leads the NBA in assists … but wait, they’re still in 6th place? How did Westbrook average a triple double when he had nobody last year; and now he’s averaging a triple double again?
And I keep getting asked why I could vote for LeBron this year over Harden, but that one’s not too difficult: LeBron, at 33, in his 15th season, is posting career bests in rebounds and assists, and even though he lost Kyrie Irving before the season, and then almost half the roster in February, they’re almost certainly going to still make the NBA Finals.
I don’t know if Westbrook is getting out of the first round. I don’t know if Harden is getting to the Finals. I know the award is supposed to be for the regular season, but it’s tough to use that when we all say the regular season doesn’t matter. Hell, 1/3 of the league has been tanking for two months.
My MVP vote today: