Going into the All-Star break earlier this month, the NBA MVP debate was a two-horse race between two of the league’s brightest young stars. James Harden is leading the NBA in points per game(and inches per beard) and Stephen Curry has lead his Golden State Warriors team to the NBA’s best record, all while dazzling us with behind-the-back, through-the-legs crossover, step-back three’s that could only be recreated on a video game controller with two people pushing the buttons. But alas, after hoisting the MVP trophy of the league’s annual All-Star game two Sunday’s ago, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook has entered the conversation.
It’s almost hard to comprehend Westbrook winning this year’s award for the league’s player, as his teammate Kevin Durant is the league’s second-best player(LeBron James) and the reigning MVP-award winner. Essentially, KD is the Batman to Westbrook’s Robin. Durant has been sidelined due to injury for 30 of the teams 57 games this season and Westbrook himself has fought through injuries but has carried this team, who was at .500 at the All-Star break into 8th seed in the Western Conference. The Thunder have won nine of their last ten games and are on a seven-game winning streak with Durant watching from the bench.
Westbrook is playing fantastic. The momentum-fueled, attacking combo guard has taken his All-Star Game MVP and propelled his game to new heights. Westbrook is averaging a team-best 25.9 ppg, which is second only to Harden. His 8.0 assists per game average is good enough for top-5 in the league. He’s also been a triple-double machine this season, leading the league in this category and has notched two triple doubles in his last ten games, both coming in just three quarters of play.
His impressive 10-game stretch(dating back to the beginning of Feb.) has been a stats bonanza with averages of 29.5 PPG, 10.1 APG, 8.2 RPG and 1.5 steals per game. Westbrook’s level of play at the point guard position even gave Thunder GM Sam Presti the confidence to trade his back-up Reggie Jackson, in a deadline deal that helped OKC shore up their front line with the addition of Enes Kanter from Utah. The Kanter-Westbrook connection has looked to be a good one chemistry-wise and could vault the team even further up Western Conference tan dings, and thus would aid in Westbrook’s MVP campaign even more.
Just imagine Scottie Pippen winning the MVP award on a Michael Jordan-ran Bulls team…