Despite the Thunder getting knocked out of the NBA Playoffs in the first round, Russell Westbrook has proven why he should, without a doubt, be the Most Valuable Player in the NBA this year. Now, I understand James Harden is playing great and leading a team that can compete in the Western Conference. I also understand that LeBron is probably one of the greatest players in basketball history. However, I still argue that Russ should be the MVP despite not winning as many games or going as far in the Playoffs.
The reasons are simple. Russ set the record this season for most triple-doubles in a single season. He averaged a triple-double this season with 31.6 points per game, 10.4 assists per game, and 10.7 rebounds per game. Also, Russ led the league in points, field goals, player efficiency rating, assist percentage, and box plus/minus. It wouldn’t be fair to leave out that he also led the league in field goals attempted and field goals missed, but James Harden was fourth and third on those lists respectively while only landing in tenth on the field goals made leader board.
When it comes to the argument that Harden should win the award because his team has won more games, I think it can be disputed by explaining some facts from Games 4 & 5 of the Thunder v Rockets first round playoff match up. In Game 5, Russ sat out for just six minutes in the entire game. In that time the Thunder were outscored 27-9. In Game 4, the Thunder had a +14 point differential with Russ on the court and in the nine minutes that he sat out, the Thunder had a -18 point differential. I know Russ said not to split his team up, but come on how can you not. The Thunder fall apart when Russ sits and you can’t expect him to become a super human who plays all 48 minutes in every game.
I understand the argument that your team needs to be winning for you to be considered for the MVP, but Russ has done everything he possibly can to help his team win and they still manage to fail. There is a lot of work to do for the Thunder to be championship contenders, but Russ is doing exactly what any MVP worthy player can do. I’ll admit I am biased because I absolutely love watching Russell Westbrook play. He shows so much passion and plays with so much energy, that watching him play is electrifying. The Thunder may not have won the playoff series, but I think it is safe to say Russ has done enough to win the NBA Most Valuable Player award.