The National Basketball Association will have quite the dilemma on their hands. Who will become this year’s Most Valuable Player?
Two of the strongest candidates currently vie for playoff supremacy. Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder and James Harden of the Houston Rockets look to defeat each other and advance to the second round. The winner will face either the San Antonio Spurs or the Memphis Grizzlies in the semifinals.
Let’s look at the tale of the tape.
Westbrook finished the regular season averaging a triple-double. He recorded 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game. Westbrook even scored 51 while recording 13 rebounds and 10 assists in Game 2 against the Rockets.
Yet, the Thunder fell on that day. James Harden was a key contributor to their loss.
Harden finished the regular season averaging a double-double for the season. He recorded 29.1 points and 11.2 assists per game throughout the regular season. In Game 2, Harden scored 35 while recording eight assists in the victory.
Despite whoever wins, it seems likely they’ll take on the Spurs who have an MVP candidate as well.
San Antonio small forward Kawhi Leonard has emerged as their main guy. His stats may not impress the general public (25.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game), but he could be a lock for another Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Either way, Leonard means as much to the Spurs as Harden and Westbrook do to their teams.
That brings us to why the MVP award still matters in the NBA. It’s why the split between Harden and Westbrook are driving the NBA landscape insane. Even former MVP and recently retired Kobe Bryant can’t make a decision on this.
That elusive MVP award can put players on the catapult to a new stratosphere. Just ask LeBron James and Stephen Curry, both who have won MVPs and are the men of their teams.
Just ask Kevin Durant, who recently joined Curry in Golden State and put their lineup over the charts.
You can even ask Leonard that question as well. Granted, he’s not a regular season MVP. However, he knows a thing or two about being very valuable on the NBA’s grand stage.
What makes this decision harder is the unspoken truth. Both are carrying their teams to new heights. Whether their teammates catch up remains to be seen.
We won’t have to wait long to see who will take home the MVP award. The NBA and TNT will have the first-ever NBA Awards Show on Monday, June 26. The MVP will be revealed on that very date.
As far as who to pick, history may not be on either side.
The last time this conundrum happened was the 1961-62 season. Oscar Robertson averaged a triple-double throughout the season and wasn’t voted in. Wilt Chamberlain led the league in points per game and wasn’t chosen. That honor went to Bill Russell, who won the vote with 51 percent.
Sound familiar? If you look at the stats, Russell’s stats looked pretty anemic compared to Chamberlain’s and Robertson’s.
This brings us back to today. There could be a slim chance Leonard steals the MVP from Westbrook and Harden. If that’s the case, expect a lot of angry NBA fans and an outcry bigger than the NBA Finals.
Regardless, there’s no denying we have two overwhelmingly deserving players in Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Both deserve the honor and wouldn’t cause too many naysayers to pop up.
In the end, it’s about the best player in the game. As far as who that will be, let’s just say the ball don’t lie.
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