In the NBA, the phrase “Most Valuable Player” is discussed on a different level when compared to other professional sports.
Being the MVP doesn’t mean that a player is significantly better than everyone else in the league. It’s about more than stats.
Sure, it helps when somebody leads in points per game or shooting percentage, but it’s what a player does with those statistics to better themselves and their teams that truly matters.
There is, however, an MVP candidate with all of these qualities and more. His name is Russell Westbrook.
Westbrook had an incredible season with 31.6 points per game, 10.7 rebounds per game, and 10.4 assists per game. He is the only player ever to record a perfect triple-double, which is when a player scores in the double digits, assists in the double digits and rebounds in the double digits along with a perfect shooting percentage in a single game.
Westbrook is also the only player to record 42 triple-doubles in a single season, has the most 50-point triple-doubles in a single season and is the first player since Oscar Robertson’s 1961-1962 season to average a triple-double for the entire season.
A true MVP makes the players around them better and thinks in terms of “we” instead of “me.”
“We [are] in this together… we play as a team, and that’s all that matters,” said Westbrook after a loss to the Rockets in the playoffs.
Despite the media’s attempts to make the dialog about OKC being Westbrook’s team, he’s more focused on explaining that he and his teammates are equals.
Then there’s the other side. The argument against Westbrook’s award consists of the Rockets earning a better record than OKC and beating them in the playoffs. Some believe James Harden deserves the MVP more than Westbrook.
Looking at the two individually, Harden averaged 29.1 points per game, 11.2 assists per game and 8.1 rebounds per game. Both are efficient on offense, but Westbrook edges out Harden with more points and rebounds per game.
Looking at the playoffs alone, OKC was more dependent on Westbrook than Houston was on Harden. When Westbrook was on the court for the series, the Thunder outscored Houston by an average of 4.9 points. When Westbrook was off the court, Houston outscored OKC by 51.3 points.
In Game 5 of the playoffs, Westbrook only sat out six minutes of the entire game. During those 6 minutes, Houston outscored the Thunder 27-9.
These alarming statistics show how much of an impact Westbrook has on his team. People may believe that the MVP needs to win a championship to be considered the Most Valuable Player. According to that logic, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone and Allen Iverson shouldn’t have received the MVP trophy, which is ridiculous to even think about.
Despite not advancing to the next round of the playoffs, Russell Westbrook deserves to be the MVP. His heart and determination this season rivals NBA greats. Looking at Westbrook’s season is more than enough proof to say he is the rightful MVP.