With just a month left in the NBA season, the race for the league MVP has become one of the more intriguing races in recent years. LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Isaiah Thomas, and James Harden have each made tremendous cases for the award, but the leader of the pact could possibly be the new Mr. Triple-Double he player from the Oklahoma City Thunder: Russell Westbrook.
After losing a former league MVP and multiple scoring champ -Kevin Durant -to free agency, the Thunders became one of the more interesting teams going into the 2016-2017 season now with Westbrook leading a team that was built around him.
So, what has Westbrook done so far this season? He’s only averaging a triple double, is leading the NBA in scoring, is third in assists per game, and has led the Thunder to a 40-29 record, which is 6th in a top-heavy Western Conference.
What makes the triple-double more fascinating than when Oscar Robertson, the last person to average a triple-double, is the difference from his era, to the era Westbrook plays in. Back in Robertson’s era in the 1960s, teams had over 40 more possessions than teams do today according to Fox Sports’ Chris Broussard. Also, in the season that Robertson averaged a triple-double, he had 41 triple-doubles which is the most ever in a season. As of March 18th, with 13 games left, Westbrook has 34 triple doubles which is second most in league history and could possibly shatter Robertson’s record.
Yes, Harden, James, Leonard, and Thomas are on teams with superior records but look at the players they have compared to what Westbrook has. If you were to take Westbrook off a Thunder team that is 28th in three-point shooting percentage according to nba.com, and would have Victor Oladipo, Steven Adams, Enes Kanter as its best players, they would be one of the lower teams in the Western Conference. The award stands for “Most Valuable Player,” and Westbrook brings more value to his team than anybody else does.
If Westbrook finishes the season by averaging the first triple-double in over 50 years the season after losing one of the greatest scorers of all-time in Durant, he should be the top candidate for league MVP without a doubt, and he will be an MVP that will be remembered for decades.