As the regular season comes to an end, the excitement about the playoffs begins, but one question remains. Who deserves MVP? This season has been one for the ages, and there have been many candidates for the Maurice Podoloff Trophy.
Russel Westbrook has set the basketball world alight with his dominating performances which have seen him become only the second player ever, to average a triple-double throughout a season. James Harden has had an incredible season, leading to Houston Rockets to third in the heavily stacked Western Conference. Kawhi has had a career year, and could join the likes of Dikembe Mutombo and Dwight Howard as the only players to win three Defensive Player of the year awards. Finally, the everlasting Lebron James, will be in the MVP conversation for as long as he plays, because he’s Lebron.
But who deserves the award? It has to be a two-horse race between Westbrook and Harden, both have similar stats and both have been the MVP for their respective teams.
There is a very big case for Harden to win the MVP award. If it wasn’t for Him many believe we would have had our second unanimous MVP. He is running the second-best offense in the league, compared to Russell who is leading the 16th best offense and although Harden doesn’t have the glamour of a ‘triple-double’ next to his name, his stats are similar to Westbrooks, averaging 29.1ppg 8.1 rpg, and 11.2 assists per game. Harden has been more efficient than Westbrook, Russell takes more than five shots per game more than Harden, too many shots to justify a gap of just 2.8 points per game, while Harden gets his team mates involved more often. His team is third in the West only behind the heavily talented Warriors and Spurs, compared to the Thunder who sit in 6th. Harden also leads the leagues in double-doubles, and has more 40-10 games than anyone in the NBA. The head to head record with the Thunder is in Hardens favour too as they boast 3-1 record over Oklahoma.Enter Mr Triple-double, Westbrook has been outstanding this season, and has been more integral for his team than Harden has for the Rockets I feel. Westbrook for me has had more ‘MVP moments’ or ‘MVP plays’ if such a thing had a category. His game winner against the Denver Nuggets was nothing short of spectacular, all this while he got his third 50-point triple double, more than anyone else in history. There is an argument that Russ gets more game winners, or more of these magical moments because his team is worse and the onus is on him to do all the work, for example Harden doesn’t have to shoot a game winner because his team would have already won the game, so he isn’t in the positions that Russ’ is in. Kobe said that this could be the first year we see ‘Co-MVPs’ and when you look at that it may not be the worst idea in the word because these two superstars are so hard to separate, but for me it has to be Russell Westbrook, to play with the anger the ferocity the intensity he does night after night is what an MVP does. Getting his team into the 6th seed in the playoffs, without KD and an average roster, it’s what an MVP does. For me it doesn’t come down to wins, obviously it has something to do with it, but you shouldn’t give it to someone purely due to the fact they’re surrounded by better players, Russ deserves it, end of story!