Catrell Simpson March 20th, 2017

Russell Westbrook is on pace to be the second person ever to average a triple-double. This feat hasn’t been accomplished since the 1961-1962 season by Oscar Robertson. We just had the first unanimous MVP last season, Steph Curry. As of right now, Westbrook is averaging more points, rebounds, and assists than Curry did during his unanimous MVP campaign.

Last year, the Thunder were one game away from being in the NBA Finals. We know the aftermath of that lost. Kevin Durant left Westbrook in OKC by himself and joined the Golden State Warriors. The Thunder picked up Victor Oladipo to replace one of the best basketball players on the planet. In that trade, they also lost arguably their best big man in Serge Ibaka.

Westbrook has always got that “selfish” label because he would take more shots than KD. With Durant gone, Westbrook could’ve easily tried to score as much as he could every night. No one would blame him for not winning games because his team isn’t good by any means. But he didn’t do that. He’s averaging more points and rebounds than he ever has in a season. Even without KD, Westbrook has the Thunder positioned in the 6th spot in the Western Conference, dropping only 3 spots from last season.

Now let’s talk about the rest of the MVP candidates and compare them. First is MVP favorite James Harden. I know Harden is having a great season, and any other year he would be the MVP. Comparing the two, Westbrook is averaging more points and rebounds than Harden. The only stat Harden leads in is assists, and he’s only averaging less than 1.0 more. Westbrook has 15 more triple-doubles than Harden. The Rockets do have the better record, but they also have the better roster. You could argue without Harden, the Rockets might still make the playoffs. Without Westbrook, the Thunder are in the lottery no doubt about it.

As for the other candidate, LeBron James, Westbrook has 24 more triple-doubles, and he averages more points, rebounds, and assists. For those who want to give the argument about the V in MVP, VALUABLE, LeBron is very valuable to the Cavs. No LeBron= No Championship. But you can’t tell me a team with one of the best point guards in the league, Kyrie Irving, consistent all-star, Kevin Love, and a good supporting cast couldn’t at least contend in the weaker Eastern Conference. Once again, the Thunder without Westbrook would have a lottery pick.

I don’t want to take anything away from LeBron or Harden. They’re having great seasons, but this year it’s all about Russell Westbrook. If he averages a triple-double and leads his team to the playoffs without Kevin Durant, he has to win unanimous MVP.

Better numbers than last season’s unanimous MVP and better numbers than other candidates in most categories this season, but there’s a good chance Westbrook doesn’t go home with the MVP. It just might make too much sense to just look at the numbers to determine this year’s Most Valuable Player.