Westbrook's Stat-Stuffing Does Not Deserve an MVP Trophy
Based on offensive production, Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder and James Harden of the Houston Rockets have emerged as the frontrunners to win the 2016-2017 NBA Most Valuable Player award. However, only one of these individuals should be in consideration for the honor – James Harden.
Before enduring tonight's loss to San Antonio (despite Westbrook scoring a triple-double), the Thunder were swept by Portland, which is embarrassing on its own. But the Thunder also finished with a losing record against Harden's Rockets. These failures should reflect directly on Westbrook and his selfish play.
Judging sheer entertainment value, Westbrook is the most exciting player to watch, period. His athleticism and passion are electric, and he plays with a 1980s like rage that traditional basketball fans long for. But simply having the ability to walk older fans down memory lane is not worthy of an MVP award.
Westbrook is not the most valuable player. He may be the most valuable NBA commodity thanks to his dynamism. He is certainly the most adept accumulator of statistics. But he is far from the league's most valuable player.
MVPs don't chase box score prizes en lieu of victories, as Westbrook has done time and again this season. Westbrook chased a triple-double against the Pistons on November 14th falling two assists shy, but most importantly, losing by 16 points to a bad Detroit squad slated to miss the playoffs. This loss was after a defeat suffered at home against Orlando the night before. On that night, Westbrook earned his coveted triple-double, en route to a devastating loss by one of the Eastern Conferences worst teams. Against the Pacers on November 20th, Westbrook led all scorers with 31 points and rallied for another triple-double. But like his March 3rd matchup against Phoenix, or his January 18th matchup against Golden State, Westbrook's triple-double hunting led to losses.
Thus far, Westbrook has scored 40 or more points in 15 games this season. Of those 15 games, the Thunder only won eight (.533 win percentage). His offensive brilliance is undeniable. But Westbrook's offensive prowess is not translating to wins. Heck, he even lags behind the head-to-head matchup against the other MVP frontrunner. Harden, in contrast, has scored 40 or more points on 11 occasions this season. But of those 11, the Rockets won seven (.636 win percentage).
Westbrook often fills a stat sheet, like he did when the Thunder met the Rockets on March 26th. Westbrook scored another triple-double, but it was in a losing effort. The headlines should not have focused on the Westbrook triple-double, rather, on Harden embarrassing Westbrook and making the necessary plays to carry his Rockets to victory.
Analysts claiming Westbrook deserves the MVP because he's 'done it alone,' are either blind or disinterested in objectivity. Steven Adams is a highly skilled big who would make an impact on any NBA roster. The same holds true for Oladipo. Sure, Oladipo is young. But his youth has not hampered his play. Roberson is a formidable wing, and Kanter has more post moves than half of the bigs in the league. Westbrook is not alone. He may play like it. But his 'move out of the way, I'll handle it' mentality has not equaled success in the win column.
Westbrook is a stat-stuffing liability who does not deserve an MVP trophy for playing hero ball. Chasing Oscar Robertson's record has cost his team throughout the season and will be the central reason for OKC's demise in the playoffs.