Westbrook Wins NBA MVSP Award – Most Valuable Statistical Player

Published on: 27th June, 2017

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Westbrook MVP, Durant Champion
Westbrook got his MVP, Durant got his chip  | read this item

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Congratulations are in order to NBA star, Russell Westbrook, the wondrous, 6’3″ point guard and Mr. Everything for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Last night, at one of those annoying black-tie, post-season, self-congratulatory, interminable, celebrity-filled awards ceremonies to rival the Oscars and televised by the TNT Network,  Westbrook won the MVP, as in most valuable player, of the National Basketball Association.

But really, was he?

Sure, Westbrook set new standards, statistically. He averaged a triple-double for the season, 31.6 ppg, 10.7 rpg and 10.4 dimes. No one else in league history accomplished that feat, averaging double figures in three categories, except the great Oscar Robertson, who did it 56 years ago. Westbrook also set a record for the most triple-doubles in a season, with 42, breaking Robertson’s total of 41, set during that mythical 1961-62 season. He played only 34.6 minutes per game so there’s reason to believe he would have added on to his records by significant margins had he been on the court longer. 

Westbrook, truly a freak of an athlete and a generational basketball talent, is a superstar in a league that all too often overuses phrases like superstar. Here’s the rub, though: He had to do literally everything for the Oklahoma City Thunder this season, or so he and his coach, Billy Donovan, thought. The dynamic point guard singlehandedly accounted for more than a quarter of the Thunder’s shot attempts (27.4 percent), and it’s well-documented among league-insiders that he pads his rebounding stats. Westbrook obviously is a tremendous talent, but his numbers are inflated somewhat by his incredibly large workload.

So, is he really the MVP of the league?

Westbrook got his MVP, Durant got his chip

Here’s one thought…An MVP should not play for a bottom-feeder of a team. The majority of his games should not be of an exhibition-game-in-the-playground variety with little pressure to perform, hit a game-winning shot, or get a stop in the last minute. There should be more than just sheer entertainment at stake, every night, for an MVP winner.

Yes, I know how crucial it was for Oklahoma City to win last season, just to qualify for a post-season tournament in which 16 of the league’s 30 teams get to participate. But, the Thunder finished in sixth place in the Western Conference, 20 games behind the Golden State Champions, I mean, Warriors.

Westbrook’s Thunder finished four games behind the fifth place Utah Jazz and four games ahead of the mediocre Memphis Grizzlies at season’s end. There were no important games for Russell Westbrook over the last several weeks of the season. 

His only goal was to keep building those stats and stay healthy while his team was nestled between the Jazz and the Grizz. At number six in the standings, there wasn’t even a realistic goal to gain a home court advantage for the playoffs. 

So, here’s another thought…maybe one day, Westbrook will play with other superstars (there’s that word, again) where he will have to sublimate his own skill-set and lofty statistics for the good of the team. Maybe then, he can truly receive credit for being a great team player by leading his team to an NBA championship. Oh wait, didn’t he already have that opportunity when he had James Harden and Kevin Durant, along with other terrific role players on OKC for several years? It’s strange when one franchise has three of the best players in the world yet, loses two of them. Makes one wonder. 

As one person wrote on Twitter, “I realize that it’s not cool to like Durant because he wanted to win with Golden State, but I have a hard time giving an MVP award to a guy like Westbrook who is only the best player on his team because he chased off two better players.”

That seems to be the consensus around the NBA and its fans about Russell Westbrook. Fair or not, true or not, the Big 3 in Oklahoma City had tremendous opportunities to turn their talents towards winning the only prize that really matters in professional or high-level amateur sports, and that’s a championship trophy. 

No matter what the spin has been around the departures of Harden and Durant, and it has been spun in several ways, it seems like half the reason Durant moved to Golden State was because Westbrook was such a difficult teammate to play with. Several of OKC’s players, including a few who have real potential (remember when everyone was in love with the center, Steven Adams?) are stagnating because the entire offense runs through one person.

So, does that make Westbrook the most valuable player or, the most valuable individual player, statistically-speaking? The MVSP – The Most Valuable Statistical Player?

The knock on Westbrook boils down to the fact that he’s just not a team player in a team sport, and no matter how much drive someone has, if he thinks he’s the only person on the floor, he’ll be a net negative to his team’s chances of winning. A championship. Not just achieving a winning record.  That’s an attitude for losers. And, non MVP winners.

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