I already know what most of you are thinking Westbrook is the clear cut winner for the NBA MVP. I mean he broke so many records with triple doubles in a season so that has to mean he’s the MVP right? The NBA MVP award is for the best player in the league for the regular season. I’m not about to turn this into a LeBron should be MVP every year discussion because love him or hate him LeBron is the best player on the planet. However I want to take a step back and think hmm if we look back on the 16-17 season are we in awe of triple doubles or wins? Last time I checked you don’t Win Championships because of triple doubles it helps but never guarantees anything.
Russel Westbrook set the record for 42 triple doubles this year out of the 81 games he played in. He averaged a triple double for the entire season. He lead the league in scoring 31.6 points per game, 3rd in assists 10.4 per game, 9th in rebounds 10.7 per game. The Thunder finished 6th in the West. Lets crown him the league MVP right now it’s a lock!
Pump your brakes real fast player! On the surface these are amazing stats and worthy of MVP, but when you dig into these numbers they tell a different story. You see 31.6 points per game but I see 24 shots avg per game and he only shot 42.5% good enough from 100th in the league. Since the start of the MVP award only Iverson has won MVP with that bad of shooting 42% in the 00-01 season.
You see 10.4 assists per game I see he holds the ball more than any other player in the NBA having a 41.8% usage stat you should have a lot of assists. Jordan is one of the biggest ball hogs I’ve ever seen and his highest rating was 38.4%. Even though Westbrook has a usage stat that high he didn’t even lead the league in assists.
You see a point guard having double digit rebounds for the season? I see a point guard that doesn’t play defense 1.6 steals per game down from 2 last year.
Westbrook also came in second for turnovers per game with a horrendous 5.4 per game. When you look at the assists and turnover stats together Westbrook’s assists to turn over ratio is 1.9% the lowest ever for any MVP winner if he wins. These aren’t numbers of an MVP they’re numbers of a stat chaser and someone that probably cost their team wins more because his poor shooting percentage no matter how bad he’s shooting and turnovers.
With Westbrook gone from the discussion on to James Harden. Harden was the Rockets version of Westbrook and he had an almost a mirror image season to Westbrook. Harden finished 2nd in points with 29.1 ppg. 1st in assists with 11.2 pg. 19th in rebounds with 8.2 pg. The Rockets finished 3rd in the West for the season. With Harden one could argue the supporting cast is better but again we’re basing this off the best player. Harden beat Westbrook in another stat turnovers 5.7 pg. just edging out Westbrook with 2% assist to turnover ratio. Though I think you have a slightly better case with Harden I can’t get past the shooting percentage of 44%, turnovers 5.7 pg, and assist to turnover ratio of 2%. Harden you had a good season my friend, but it’s time for us to move on.
That leaves us with the usual suspects LeBron, Curry and Durant all 3 need no introductions and those 3 are probably the top 3 players in the world. However you also have wild cards in the up and coming Thomas, Wall, and Greek Freak Giannis Antetokounmpo.
If we look at LeBron real quick LeBron had a great year finishing with 26.4 point per game, with a 54.8% shooting percentage. Thats good enough for highest of any play with over 12 shot attempts per game. Finished with 8.7 assists per game up 2 from last season. However LeBron might be shooting, and assisting well he’s not protecting the ball well. LeBron averaged 4.1 turnovers per game 4th most in the NBA and up 1 per game from last season. LeBron is clearly the MVP of his team because they lost all 8 games he didn’t play this season, but he’s not the pick for MVP if he can’t protect that rock.
I would love to go in depth on Durant and Curry (2 time defending champ) but I’m going to leave it at this they both had good seasons. I was pleasantly surprised they didn’t vulture each others stat line too much. These 2 will always have the knock now since they’re on a power house team that they’re not considered MVP caliber because the team can win without them. Both have impressive stat lines and the best record in the NBA so you wouldn’t have to twist my arm to give it to them, but they still aren’t the answer for MVP.
Looking at the rising stars in the league Isaiah Thomas, John Wall and “The Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo. Wow are these guys starting to come into their own.
Isaiah Thomas finished with 28.9 ppg and a 46% shooting percentage. He added 5.9 assists per game and did a much better job protecting the ball with only 2.8 turnovers per game. Boston finished with the top seed in the East and that’s impressive given they have to go against the Cavs. Great season for a point guard but best player in the league that’s tough to say. Again not a strong defensive game and the MVP should have a complete game.
John Wall led the Wizards to the 4th seed in the East. 23 ppg on 45% shooting. His 10.7 assists per game was good enough for second in the league ahead of Westbrook might I add. However much like Westbrook and Harden he averaged too many turnovers with 4.1 per game. Just like them I also have to say you can’t protect the ball you’re not the MVP.
On to one of the most exciting players in the league today. “The Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo. In only his 4th year Antetokounmpo only keeps getting better and is starting to become a superstar for Milwaukee and the NBA. He didn’t have lights out stats but was impressive with 22.9 points per game, 52% shooting percentage, 8.7 rebounds pg, 5.9 assists pg, 1.9 blocks pg, 1.6 steals pg, and 2.9 turnovers per game. Extremely strong season by him and across the board his best season but MVP not just yet.
What these three guys have been able to do with their teams this season is awesome to see. The skies the limit for these 3 and I believe they will only get better but they’re not the MVP today.
Are we ever going to find the real MVP of the season? Wait whats this stat line I’m reading? 25.5 points per game (9th), 48.5% shooting % (10th best for anyone with more than 12 attempts), 5.8 rebonds per game, 1.7 steals a game, .7 blocks per game and his team has the 2nd best record in the NBA and West. I know these stats on the surface can’t touch Westbrook and Harden. Remember though when I said we should look at did they get the W?
That’s why my vote for MVP is for the man they call “The Claw” Kawhi Leonard! You’re probably saying really thats your pick that came out of nowhere, but that’s fitting for the team he plays on. The Spurs no matter what are going to be quietly favored behind closed doors, but always taken for granted. They’re the Pats of the NBA well without all the drama. They just go win and they play as a team. With Duncan retiring at the end of last season Kawhi had to take a bigger role, and he’s done just that. He’s up in almost every stat across the board and unlike many of the other players I’ve discussed he can play both sides of the ball. The Spurs aren’t the 2nd seed without him and they damn sure won’t win the Championship without him.
I started this article off by saying I already know what most of you are thinking Westbrook is the clear cut winner for the NBA MVP. The sad reality is he probably will win it, but the stats don’t lie. The real MVP isn’t in OKC, and you could argue that it could easily be on 5 other teams. However the one true MVP is locked and loaded for a Finals MVP and eying ring number 2 for San Antonio.