All year, I’ve leaned toward Westbrook as the presumptive MVP.
He’s been an absolute force for the depleted Thunder, making the team in his own image after the departure of Durant to the Warriors. He’s leading the league in scoring with 31.8 points per game, second in assists with 10.8, 11th in rebounding with 10.6 a game. I never thought an NBA player would average a triple-double in a season after Oscar Robertson did it in 1961-62. It was one of those untouchable records, like hitting .400. Just wasn’t going to happen.
Westbrook is doing it. He’s averaging a triple double and keeping the Thunder relevant when they really don’t have any right to be. This is a historically great season he’s putting together.
…And yet in the last week, I’ve started leaning toward James Harden as the league MVP.
But look at what Harden is putting together: He’s third in the league in scoring with 28.5 points per game, and leading the league in assists with a flabbergasting 11.8 per game. You don’t average nearly 12 assists per game and score nearly 30. It just doesn’t happen. The entire Rockets offense is running through him right now.
Both guys turn the ball over a bunch, so there’s no real dividing line there. So why am I leaning toward Harden at this point? It’s not just that he’s led the Rockets to a 31-9 record and making a serious run at the top of the Western Conference, while the Thunder are currently sitting as the 7-seed in the Western Conference at 23-16. It’s how efficiently Harden has been in getting those points.
This is all razor-thin margins, and trust me — I’ll change my mind 15 more times before the season ends. But right now, especially following two ridiculous back-to-back 40-point triple-double performances from Harden, he’s got the edge. I look forward to Westbrook taking it back this weekend.