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Beard Over Brodie For MVP

Why Harden, not Westbrook, should be crowned Most Valuable Player.

By Stone StrankmanPublished 7 years ago 4 min read
Image via ClutchPoints

This season we have been blessed with Russell Westbrook’s pettiness and also the unleashing of his full fury after Kevin Durant bolted for the Golden State Warriors back in July. Now, Westbrook does what he wants, and is launching up triple doubles at an alarming rate. 18 triple doubles so far this season for the Brodie, and he isn’t going to be stopping anytime soon. Westbrook is more than likely favored to be the MVP at the end of the season, and he certainly has the numbers to become the league’s MVP, but he shouldn’t become the MVP unless his team starts winning a whole lot more.

The MVP is the Most Valuable Player, not the best player by statistics. Valuable to me, means that without this player on your team, you don’t have the leader of your team, along with a fire to win, and even the numbers to put up on a nightly basis. While Westbrook has all of those tangibles, the Oklahoma City Thunder are sitting at the seventh spot of the Western Conference with a 24–17 record. Over .500 yes, but nowhere near impressive. The Thunder do not have a great roster to surround Westbrook, with Oladipo as his sidekick, Steven Adams and Enes Kanter as his twin towers, Andre Roberson (who doesn’t need to be guarded for any sort of jump shot), and his dance partner Cameron Payne rejoining the team after injury recently, nothing on the Thunder’s roster seems to jump off the page or on the court to me.

Without Russell Westbrook on Oklahoma City’s team it goes down to the near bottom of the Western Conference and even maybe the entire NBA. The Thunder are nothing without Westbrook, but he’s still not the most valuable piece to an NBA team, James Harden is.

The Rockets were a disappointment last season, but this season they sit on the third spot of the frightening Western Conference only behind the San Antonio Spurs and the Golden State Warriors (I guess three name teams have the advantage here). The Rockets have a 31–11 record only a game and a half out of second place for the Western Conference, and it’s all thanks to James Harden for switching to the point guard position.

Harden has been able to show off his passing abilities this season while averaging 11.7 assists per game through 42 games this season. His previous career highs for a season in assists was last season with 7.5 assists per game. Harden is now a 6’5” point guard which is a difficult matchup for opposing point guards. His driving tendencies may piss you off because he gets fouled so much and mainly scores his points off of free throws, but that is just a part of his game. I’m starting to appreciate Harden the more I watch him. Last season while he would stand around on defense, I would pull my hair out asking, “Why must you not play defense?” This season his defense has been tolerable enough for me to actually enjoy watching a Rockets game.

While the Thunder’s roster around Russell Westbrook is abysmal, the Rocket’s roster isn’t exactly eye popping either. Patrick Beverley, Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson, Nene, Trevor Ariza, Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell are the headliners around Harden. Beverley is a terrific defender, Gordon could quite possibly be Sixth Man of the Year, and Harrell has started to come into his own. While Houston does seem to have the better roster over Oklahoma City, it still isn’t the most impressive roster in the era of super teams like the Golden State Warriors and the New York Knicks.

Image via Rob Perez

I decided to play six NBA 2k17 games between the Thunder and Rockets to determine who is the better and more valuable player for their team. I played as the home team every time, and the home team won each of the six games, Houston three wins, Oklahoma City three wins. Houston is the better team, and somehow Russell Westbrook wills his team to victory time and time again. I played six minute quarters and compared Harden and Westbrook’s averages after the sixth game.

Image via Hoopsvilla

Harden: 22 points, 3 rebounds, 7.5 assists, .5 steals, 1 blocks, 2 turnovers, FT% 1.00, FG% .642

.642%, wtf. Right?

Westbrook: 22.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 5 assists, .5 steals, .5 blocks, 2 turnovers, FT% .750, FG% .425

Image via YouTube

Their numbers are relatively the same, but the field goal percentages are drastically different. Westbrook took way more shots than Harden, but somehow his team was still winning games. It dumbfounds me. Here are the two players’ statistics in real life so far this season:

Harden: 28.6 points, 8.2 rebounds, 11.7 assists, 1.4 steals, .4 blocks, 5.8 turnovers, FT% .849, FG% .443

Westbrook: 30.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, 10.5 assists, 1.4 steals, .3 blocks, 5.4 turnovers, FT% .820, FG% .424

Their numbers per game are fairly similar, with Westbrook winning the points and rebounds battle, but only by a little over two per category. Both players are playing incredibly, stupid good basketball, and both teams should make the playoffs, but if you put Harden back in the shooting guard position full time, those numbers and the win column for Houston changes drastically. Harden is the MVP of the NBA so far this season and nothing is going to change my mind until the Thunder start winning more games due to Russell Westbrook’s play.

I decided to simulate one game with Houston being the home team due to the better record thus far this season. The Rockets won 61–48, and it wasn’t a very close game after being a six point game at halftime. The Game 7 stats from Harden and Westbrook were the following:

Harden: 16 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover, 7–15 FG.

Westbrook: 18 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 3 turnovers, 7–11 FG.

I blame the turnovers for Westbrook on this loss. Advantage Harden. Case Closed.


About the Creator

Stone Strankman

I'm in a committed relationship with the NBA. Staff Writer, The Unbalanced.

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