This year’s race for the NBA MVP is very tight as there are many superstars have played stellar seasons this year. This past season broke many records and featured some of the best individual performances the NBA has ever seen. This NBA MVP race may be the tightest one yet.
Many players shined this year but the two frontrunners for MVP are Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Both these players have enjoyed a lot of success over the years but have never won the MVP award. Here are the cases for both candidates.
Westbrook had arguably the best season ever. According to espn.com, He averaged a triple-double for the season with 31.6 points per game, 10.7 rebounds per game, and 10.4 assists per game. Westbrook led the NBA in points per game and placed second in rebounds, assists, and steals per game. More notably, Westbrook recorded 42 triple-doubles, breaking Oscar Robertson’s record of 41 which dates to the 1961-1962 season. Prior to the season, many people were skeptical of how Westbrook would play without playing alongside forward Kevin Durant. It seems to me that Westbrook is doing just fine and, in fact, playing the best basketball of his career.
After all his accomplishments, what could possibly stop him from winning the MVP. Well as excellent as Westbrook played all season, the Thunder’s 47-35 record was worse than Harden’s Rockets and Leonard’s Spurs. The Rockets ended the season with a 55-27 record and lost to the Rockets in five games in the opening round of the Western Conference Playoffs. Also, Westbrook’s 42.5 field goal percentage placed outside the top 100 players in the league, according to espn.com.
Harden’s numbers during the regular season are almost identical to Westbrook’s. According to espn.com, Harden averaged 29.1 points per game, 11.2 assists per game, and 8.1 rebounds per game. Harden was second in the NBA in points per game and led the league in assists per game. Westbrook may have the edge in numbers, but Harden has led his team to a better record going 55-27 and claiming the third seed in the Western Conference Playoffs. Basketball is about winning games and Harden was more successful in that than Westbrook. Also, Harden’s Rockets bested Westbrook and the Thunder in their playoff series 4-1 to add something more to his MVP resume.
Despite leading his team to the third best overall record in the NBA and nearly averaging a triple-double for the season, some of Harden’s game did not compare to the rest of the MVP candidates. Harden’s 8.1 rebounds per game left him outside of the top 20 in the league and the Rockets’ record is not as good as the Spurs. Harden’s field goal percentage was also the 88 worst in the NBA, according to espn.com.
As well as Harden has played this year, Westbrook deserves this year’s MVP. As well as Harden played and as much as I personally hate to watch another terrific Harden season come up short, his play was not up to par with Westbrook’s. Westbrook’s season is a once in a lifetime season and his numbers tell the whole story. Westbrook placed in the top 10 in three categories, including placing 10 in rebounds which is unheard of for a point guard. He broke Oscar Robertson’s triple-double record which is impressive beyond words and played alongside teammates that were not as good as Harden’s. For Westbrook, the team’s record does not represent his individual performance. Harden will definitely get the MVP within the next couple years, but this year it belongs to Westbrook.