Talking Westbrook, the MVP and if this season will be more than history for the OKC point.
Finish this sentence. Russell Westbrook will win the MVP because….
C.J. Hampshire: Because he will make NBA history. The first player to average a triple double. And he will have done it being the center object, on a team without any creators, and mortgaged to the hilt.
Mallory Stith-Wheat: Because he is doing the most with less and winning. Not winning like a contender. His usage rate is way too high but every night he competes and puts his team in the ball park to get a “W”. His will is what gets the team through these lulls they have when he hits the bench.
Julian Billick: Because he deserves it. He is a guard rebounding like a forward while at the same time he is controlling the game, getting players shots and scoring on his own. He never tires, he is never worn down. All the other candidates, Durant, LeBron, Curry, Harden, all have All-Stars on their team. Russ doesn’t and he doesn’t seem to care.
Brendan Gillespie: Because he met the moment. Durant left him and dissed him in the process but Westbrook, aware the pressure was on him, exceeded all expectations, gives 110% every game even as he had to change roles. He is the most fascinating NBA player to watch play every night.
Kevin Durant won’t win the MVP because….
C.J.: What has changed in his game? Durant is doing the same things he did last year, only efficiently. He is not the reason the Warriors have the best record in the West because without Durant they were 73-9. He has been good. But Durant isn’t different from last year or the year before. His efforts don’t change the Warriors calculus.
Julian: That’s the unfair thing about Durant going to the land of milk and honey. He will never ever be truly recognized for what he is doing and he is having a phenomenal season. But the Warriors have scoring talent and passing talent and a system that existed before Durant got there. He is not making history and he is not pushing the Warriors to a place no one thought they’d ever be. We knew Durant would be good in Oakland.
Mallory: He won’t win the MVP because he doesn’t deserve to win it. The MVP carries his team. Durant doesn’t carry the Warriors. He is one more piece in the machine, that’s it.
Brendan: The MVP is for the best player on that team, hands down, no one close. There is an argument to be made that as good as Durant has been this year he is still not better than Steph. Most teams would rather have Durant over Steph but as far as the eye test Steph gets the nod. In a close game, the final seconds, who do you want to have the ball? I’d take Steph.
I heard someone say the other day they didn’t think Westbrook was having fun. Curry is having fun. Durant is having fun. Harden is having fun. But Westbrook is so serious. Is that a bad thing?
Brendan: None of those guys you mentioned have to prove what Westbrook has to prove. That he can carry a team. That he can make OKC forget about Durant. I don’t care if Westbrook makes history with a triple double. He misses Durant. He can’t do it by himself. But he’s trying.
Mallory: I don’t think the rage Westbrook plays with is a bad thing. It’s just how he is when he is dialed in. And you can’t discount he doesn’t have another All-Star. He may have more of a burden and to give 100% of himself he has to treat each game like its life or death brain surgery.
C.J.: I don’t buy the premise. What did Chuck Daly say? Winning is fun. What I hate about this league in the social media era is they expect everyone to act the same, to be the same person. Basketball should be fun. Yes. True. But how you express that fun is different. I think Westbrook, being a Cali guy, has that Kobe raging masochist thing going, like he’s doing murder out there. No it is not the sunshine and light of Curry. It’s different. But just as entertaining. I don’t feel exhausted watching Westbrook and I don’t think he makes the game unwatchable. I think the opposite. I watch all his games to see what he is going to do.
Julian: What was that Cedric Ceballos quote. With Jordan you knew what he was going to do you just couldn’t stop it. With Kobe you didn’t know what he was going to do and couldn’t stop it. Westbrook is both. You can’t stop what you know. You can’t stop what you don’t know. Who cares if he is serious. I want him to be serious. I want him to take his job of leading this team as an obsession. The league has too many Nick Youngs.
Westbrook aside do you feel any different about the Thunder season?
Mallory: Yes. They are much better than I expected and all credit goes to Russ. He is making them relevant if not making them contenders. They don’t have the scoring talent needed and if he has an off night it is just going to be tough for them but he has them in the playoff seeding. Though I don’t think they will get a top-4 seed.
Julian: No. I knew he was capable of this. It’s amazing what you are capable of when you feel you’ve been dissed. Regardless of Durant’s right to leave, the way he did it seems a little bit shady. Total disrespect. I don’t think Russ needs anyone to give him an edge but it just made him more committed to the task at hand. He’s breathing this season 24-7.
C.J.: This is one of the great stories of the NBA season. It is still too early to figure out how it is going to end up, if Westbrook can hang in there all season long as Superman. I thought he’d be MVP in training camp. I didn’t think and I still don’t think they have enough talent to gut out two series and get to the Conference Finals. I actually think he needs to do a little less and allow Steven Adams to become a double-double guy. But starting a rookie like the Thunder do is a death knell. Rookies don’t win in the postseason unless your name is Magic Johnson.
Brendan: Not really. He is much watch t.v. but the top teams in the league have depth and versatility, something the Thunder don’t have. They can be painful to watch when Russ is out the game. They need a second creator and a second scorer, someone who can get his own shot, beat his man off the dribble and finish through contact. The Thunder are in contract hell so they just have to squeeze the most out of what they have and Westbrook is the ideal person for that particular job.
photo via llananba