It’s every NBA fans favorite time of the year; and their Christmas is about to be very Merry as the regular NBA season is nearing an end, and the playoff race isn’t the only race that’s tight this year. The MVP race has four men who we can make legitimate arguments for: Russell Westbrook, who is about to become the second player in NBA history to average a triple-double (though his team has seen very minimal success), James Harden (who has ascended under Mike D’antoni’s new system as a point guard, leading the Rockets to more success than expected but he still has yet to find his defensive form), the heart and soul of the defending champion, LeBron James, and the Spurs Kawhi Leonard. Leonard the biggest defensive impact of the candidates and is by far the best two way player in the NBA but the Spurs seem to be able to do well with many interchangeable pieces.
The start is the most obvious point as the man is about to average a triple double, something only one man has done before. The first to do it, Oscar Robertson, was snubbed as MVP and it would be a crime to snub the man who averaged a triple double twice. You also have to consider the supporting cast, or lack thereof, he has and how far he’s taken them, this wouldn’t be a playoff team without him, but they’re the 6th seed as of now. Team success, or, again, lack thereof, has been detrimental in the past, but the voters should consider the fact that Westbrook is likely the most responsible for the small success the team has had. As far as being valuable to his team, Russell Westbrook has been second to none this season and that should be considered.
Secondly, we have to address the elephant in the room. James Harden, who I feel should be the favorite at this point, was placed in a different position and thrived. He’s not only made, but rewritten history this year multiple times. Harden is the first NBA player in history to both score and assist on 2,000 points. He has the record for most three pointers made by a Houston Rocket, and is the second player ever to record two 50 point triple-doubles. He’s first to record a 50-15-15 game (at least 50 points, 15 assists, and 15 rebounds); and the Rockets, who everyone had missing the playoffs, are currently the third seed despite Harden having basically no support, and definitely a lack of star power around him. Voters for the MVP Award need to consider the history Harden made, his position change not shaking him but maybe even making him better, and him carrying his team to success.
LeBron James, the only man on the list who has won the MVP Award before, is undoubtedly the heart and soul of his team and maybe even the NBA. LeBron is having a fantastic statistical year, and whilst it may not measure up to a Westbrook or a Harden, it’s hard to overlook. Though the Cavs have been on a bad stretch recently, MVP voters should consider how LeBron contributes to this team, and how he will in the playoffs. LeBron has continued to improve his shooting stroke each year and this year has proven that, LeBron is anything but out of the race.
Lastly we have Kawhi Leonard, the man who plays at the highest level on defense, though not being as offensively gifted as the others. Having Kawhi win MVP would magnify the importance of defense and efficiency. The Spurs have moved on from their franchise, Tim Duncan, who retired before the season bega. Without a hitch, they’re still arguably the best team in the league and Kawhi is a large reason as to that. And, as is in his nature, Kawhi is the quietest candidate, his contributions have been ones made quietly, but even though Leonard is quiet his impact can’t be denied and he should be credited for the Spurs possibly being able to win the Finals.
The race is heating up with fans and the media debating heavily. It isn’t long until the playoffs and the crowning of the MVP. Who should win MVP? Let us know below!
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Credits for the MVP Trophy photo go to Houston Style Magazine
Elsio Rosario, Writer for The Athletes Hub
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