So as the season closes out and everyone anticipates the playoffs, a matchup no doubt we’re all excited to see is that of the first round between OKC and the Houston Rockets. The reason why we’re so looking forward to this is because, really, it’s the first round between James Harden and Russell Westbrook; two players that have been nearly neck and neck in the MVP race since a quarter into the season.
So if you’re reading this, chances are you know the numbers, you know the arguments for both sides of the fold. The decision between the potential MVPs is such a hot topic in the sports world that talking about the stats and providing a non-biased argument for both candidates would be nothing more than a waste of time on my part and yours.
So allow me to be biased. Russell Westbrook is the MVP. The obvious answer why: He’s been making history stat-wise all season long, and the MVP award goes to the best regular season performer. Harden recently made a comment about winning to the media, in an argument for himself as regular season MVP, saying, “I think that’s the most important thing… I thought winning was what this is about — period. I’m not going to get in-depth with all that, but I thought winning was the most important thing. If you set your team up in a position to have a chance, at the ultimate goal, then that’s the most important thing.”
People are giving Harden some credit for this, but it’s only providing a stronger argument for Westbrook as MVP. Yes James Harden’s team has secured the third spot in the very difficult Western Conference, while the OKC Thunder have won seven less games than them, but James Harden has a better team. I look around the internet, and can’t find anyone who is focusing in on that fact, not even Harden! The Thunder’s higher ups built a team in anticipation of Durant staying during the off-season. When Durant decided to take the gravy train to a championship in an amazing display of competitivelessness, Westbrook was left with close to nothing offensively.
The Rocket’s organization, on the other hand, knew exactly what they were going to work with, knew what to surround Harden with, gave him a coach that knew how to use him most efficiently, and have thus surprised the world with their success. I take nothing away from Harden’s amazing abilities, nor do I take anything away from the capabilities of his team. Westbrook faced a much less favorable situation. His team should not even be in the playoffs. Yet they’ve secured the sixth spot, and it’s all because of Westbrook’s historic season.
So yes, James Harden, it’s all about “winning”. You’ve won more than your fellow MVP candidate, because you find yourself in a much more favorable situation. Tip your hat to Westbrook, who took his team of guys who can simply run fast and rebound (with exception of Oladipo) and elevated them to playoff contention.
If you’re still on the fence as a fan, look at it this way: Swap Russell Westbrook for James Harden, same teams, same staff, same off-season, but trade James for Russell. James Harden would be no where near MVP talks if he was working with what Westbrook has had to on the OKC Thunder all season long. And the Rockets’ record would probably be even better if they had Mr. Triple Double at the helm of a fast paced, run and gun offense with a bunch of shooters as is the case in Houston.
If you want to look at stats, Westbrook is the MVP. Want to look at performance? Westbrook wins there. Want to look at clutch? Westbrook again. Want to look at winning? Given what Westbrook has around him, and given the record his team should have in light in there lack of talent, Westbrook is the winning underdog story there too, sorry James. Russell Westbrook is the one and only league MVP.