2017 NBA MVP RACE: The Most Competitive in League History
The 2017 NBA season has had plenty of memorable moments – from the youngest ever to score 70+ points in a game, to the first player who managed to average a triple-double per game in nearly more than half a decade – and some would say that this year might be the first time we’ll see two players win co-MVP honors.
The KIA 2017 NBA MVP RACE is being headlined by two former teammates in Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder and James Harden of The Houston Rockets. Both their respective teams have exceeded their regular season winning percentage expectancy – a stat that is measured before the official start of the regular season.
But the question is, could it really be possible that two players in a different team could win the MVP award at the same time? Will the 2016-2017 NBA season have another historic mark?
Let’s look at each player’s numbers, skill sets, and playing style to see how well they compete with each other.
Brodie is known for his freakish athleticism, agility, and a machine-like stamina. He attacks the basket like no other point guard in league history has ever done except for the former MVP Derrick Rose before his injuries. Many players, past and present, admire the Little Rage for his style of play, including the likes of Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, and Isiah Thomas. Allen Iverson told the media in his recent interview that “Russ has the same heart as mine.” when asked about his opinion on which player should win this year’s MVP. Kobe, known for his competitive drive and the insatiable will to win, said that “Russ has the Mamba Mentality.” such a high praise coming from a former MVP himself.
This year’s leading MVP candidate shattered the record for most number of triple-doubles in a season, a record that many players have thought that cannot be surpassed in their lifetime, and a record that was formerly held by the “Big O”, Oscar Robertson. This, however, raised criticisms from fans that Russell Westbrook is a stat-padder and is constantly inside the paint to steal their bigs’ rebounds, making him unable to leak for a fast-break opportunity. Some would say that all these criticisms being thrown are pointless considering that the Oklahoma City Thunder is 33-9 when Westbrook gets a triple-double and 13-25 when he doesn’t. Aside from their team’s winning record and a playoff berth, Westbrook leads the league in scoring, making him the first player to lead the league in scoring while averaging a triple-double. He also has three 50-point triple-doubles this season, the most by any player in a single season.
A former sixth-man and a former teammate of Russell Westbrook, James Harden has quickly become one of the leagues’ elite players since leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012. Aside from his trademark beard, he is known for his sneaky athleticism, deceptive quickness, ball handling skills, lethal jump shot, and his go-to move which is the patented euro-step. Harden and the Houston Rockets are currently placed in the 3rd spot in the West, with seven more wins than the Thunder. James Harden is averaging an impressive stat-line as Russ, with 29.1 points per game, 8.1 rebounds per game, and 11.2 assists per game. This is a result of James’ new role as a point guard, and his ability to read the defense and make his teammates involved. When asked about his thoughts on the MVP discussion, James confidently said that he feels like “he has done enough.” And thought that it should be about winning not stats.
Looking back at the history, the MVP Award is given to the best player on the best team (1st – 3rd seed). Maybe the basketball gods can hear our prayers because James Harden and Russell Westbrook will square-off against each other in the 1st round of the playoffs – and maybe the “Real” MVP will be decided only after the 7-game series.