Who should win the 2017 MVP award? After 82 games of regular season basketball three players separated themselves from the rest in the running for this prestigious award, those three players are: Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Kawhi Leonard. Those three had great seasons, but which one had the best?
(Disclaimer: The MVP is a regular season award, so whatever happens in the playoffs is irrelevant to this topic)
31.6 ppg 10.4 apg 10.7 rpg 42 fg%
The case for: Russell Westbrook is a very unique player, he’s the most athletic point guard the NBA has ever seen. He’s been putting up video game like numbers all season. He’s the first player since 1962 to average a triple double over an entire season. However, Westbrooks great season isn’t just about the stats. Despite playing with a team that lacks talent, Westbrook has able to lead the Thunder to 47 wins in a very tough conference.
The case against: Lots of people have looked at his numbers and wondered: “Why is this even a debate?” Don’t let his insane stat filling distract you, Westbrook has tons of flaws in his game. Westbrook missed 255 more shots than any other player in the league this year, and he had the second most turnovers this year in a single season in NBA history. His defense could be a lot better also, he only contested 3.6 shots per game this year. To put that number in perspective, that’s dead last among all players on the Thunder who’ve played over 30 minutes per game this year, the next closest being Victor Oladipo who contested 7.6 shots per game this year.
29.1 ppg 11.2 apg 8.1 rpg 44 fg%
The case for: Like his buddy Westbrook, James Harden has filled up the stat sheet all season long. If he was averaging 1 less assist per game and 2 more rebounds, he’d be averaging a triple double also, 2 extra rebounds per game shouldn’t make him any less of an MVP candidate than Westbrook. The Rockets this season have been doing way better than expected. Harden has lead them to the third best record in the whole league without playing with teammates who are even close to being all stars.
The case against: Remember how I said above how Westbrook had the 2nd most turnovers all time in a single season in NBA history? Guess who’s first? That’s right, James Harden from this year. That is not good at all. His defense could also be a lot better.
25.5 ppg 3.5 apg 5.8 rpg 48 fg%
The case for: No, his numbers aren’t as eye popping as Westbrook or Harden, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a better player, he’s far more efficient than both of them and galaxies better defensively. He’s won the past two defensive player of the year awards, and he’s probably going to make all NBA defensive first team for the third year in a row. He’s lead the Spurs to the 2nd best record in the league by a wide margin, and the team he has around him isn’t great. Tony Parker and Pau Gasol aren’t nearly as good as they once were, Kawhi was the only all star on the Spurs this year.
The case against: It’s hard to come up reasons for this part, especially compared to the other two. He doesn’t have nearly as many flaws as a player as Harden and Westbrook do.