The MVP race has narrowed down from LeBron/Kawhi/Russell/Harden/Isaiah Thomas to only Russell and Harden with some people, including Kobe Bryant, saying that the two should be co-MVPs. Harden has the Rockets amazing record of 51-23 (they ended last season 41-41) on his side with an impressive stat-line of 29.3 ppg, 11.3 apg, and 8.0 rpg. He’s played as a shooting guard his entire career until Mike D’Antoni (potential NBA Coach of the Year) became Rockets head coach this year and moved him to point guard, where he and the whole team have thrived.
Russell Westbrook has a potentially historic stat-line of 31.8 ppg, 10.4 apg, and 10.6 rpg. If he ends the season averaging a triple-double he would be the first player to do so since the almost mystical career of Oscar Robertson. He has been essentially a one-man wrecking crew for the Oklahoma City Thunder, who have a 43-31 record after clinching the playoffs last night against the Orlando Magic. Their record has been hovering around 6 or 7 games above .500 for the whole season but they’ve gone on a run lately to make their record a little better.
Russell had a career game last night which has possibly given him an edge over Harden (who has an apparent wrist injury that he refuses to rest for, possibly due to his desire to win MVP). In a big comeback win, he had 57 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists, which actually breaks the record for most points in a triple-double (Harden tied that record earlier this season with 53 points in a triple-double).
So here we are. Harden has the better team record while being more of a true point guard with the more assists, while Westbrook is a triple-double machine with the worse team. Other stats show that Westbrook has a better efficiency rating than Harden while Harden has a better effective field goal percentage and a better true shooting percentage (for the stat wiz kids out there).
Disclaimer: Westbrook is my favorite NBA player. This whole year I’ve thought Harden deserved MVP due to the Rockets being a better team than the Thunder and being a better point guard than Russell. But I was very shocked to see Westbrook had a slightly better efficiency rating than Harden. So right now I’m leaning towards Russell as the NBA MVP. But…..
Rockets have a road back-to-back tonight and tomorrow night against the Blazers and Warriors. If Harden can put up big nights plus big wins against those teams he might be back out in front. Russell has a big home game this Saturday against the Spurs which would help his stock. The rest of Harden and Russell’s games are against very beatable opponents.
The NBA Finals will end somewhere around mid-June with the NBA’s new awards show airing on June 26th where they will reveal all of the NBA’s annual awards, so we will find out who wins then. But keep in mind that if the season ended today, the Rockets would play the Thunder in the first round…
Playoffs can’t get here soon enough.