Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook reacts after making a 3-point basket against the Portland Trail Blazers during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Thursday, March 2, 2017. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)
In a season that was supposed to be predictable and rather boring due to the talent gap between the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers and the rest of the NBA, there’s been another storyline that has been a constant conversation topic throughout the season.
Who’s the MVP — Russell Westbrook or James Harden? These two players have had individually historic seasons and it’s just a shame that it’s happening at the same time.
Russell Westbrook’s season: 31.2 points, 10.6 rebounds, 10.3 assists.
James Harden’s season: 28.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 11.3 assists.
Westbrook should be this season’s MVP, despite James Harden’s unbelievable season. Yes, the Houston Rockets (43-19) have a better record than Oklahoma City (35-25), but it’s simple; Russell has done more with less.
The Thunder are also seventh in the Western Conference, but only one game behind fifth and one and a half games out of fourth, which would place them right under the Rockets with a less talented team.
Neither team is necessarily strong without their star player, but the Thunder are currently in the midst of a four-game winning streak while starting two rookies that average a combined 12 points per game. Before the All-Star break, they had a very below average bench as well. The Rockets have more shooters and six players averaging double figures in scoring this season.
The Thunder have four averaging double-figures in scoring and are the worst three-point shooting team in the NBA.
Nevertheless, Westbrook is averaging a triple-double for the first time since Oscar Roberson did it in 1963-1964, more than a half-century ago. No NBA player and only a few NBA coaches were alive to experience that themselves.
He is transcending the point guard position, showing that on an average night he can lead his team in scoring, assists and even rebounds.
He also currently ranks ninth in rebounds and is the only point guard in that category’s top 15.
Harden has done a ton as well, turning this franchise around from last season’s (41-41) record, while breaking multiple individual records of his own, but as stated earlier, he’s gotten more assistance.
Last season, the Thunder won 55 games with Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka and Dion Waiters on the team – three guys that averaged right around 50 combined points per game.
This season they’re on pace to win 51 games. Being four games back from last season’s team that was one game shy of an NBA Finals appearance is the most obvious reason as to why Russell Westbrook should win this season’s MVP award.