THE Most Valuable Player is the most coveted individual award in the NBA. At the midway point of the season it’s clear that there is a two horse for this years trophy. Two of the most impressive statistical seasons we have seen in recent memory have ‘The Beard’ (James Harden) and ‘The Brodie’ (Russell Westbrook) primed for a run at the trophy. Who’s in pole position?
WESTBROOK has responded to Durant’s departure by putting up the craziest statistics we have seen since Oscar Robertson was balling in the 60’s/70’s. Halfway through the season he is averaging an absurd 30.8 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.5 assists per game, but that hasn’t translated into a massive win total for the Thunder. Sitting at 24-17 at 7th in the West they seem poised to finish in a similar position at seasons end, but can Russ maintain his torrid stat line?
JAMES Harden’s Rockets on the other hand are flying. Before a recent two game road skid, Houston had reeled off 20 wins from 22 attempts and have a 31-11 record, good for 3rd best in the West. His offensive dominance has been on full display as he continually torches defenses with his playmaking ability. Scoring over 28 points a night (3rd best in the league) and leading the NBA in assists (11.7 per game), Harden’s play has been the catalyst for their success as he continues to rack up triple doubles at will similar to Westbrook.
TO no one’s surprise the pair have some of the highest usage rates in the league. Harden’s 34% rate is the fourth highest in the NBA, while Westbrook’s 42% is 1st. The NBA record for usage rate (set by Kobe in 05-06) is 38.7%, so it’s fair to say Westbrook has the ball in his hands more than any player in history before him. The duo also rank #1 and #2 in turnovers per game (Harden 5.8, Westbrook 5.4) and put simply their stats are mind boggling, with Harden’s better teammates have equating to a better record for Houston. What separates them though is the efficiency, with Harden’s shooting percentages slightly better. It’s hard to say that a guy averaging a triple double isn’t the MVP, but if James Harden continues to play the way he is it will be hard to top him for the trophy. That being said Westbrook is averaging a freaking triple double. This battle is going to be tight for the rest of the season, buckle up.
VERDICT: James Harden
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