The NBA MVP Race Is Too Close To Call
April is approaching, which means it’s almost time to crown the NBA’s MVP of the season. Right now it’s obvious that Russell Westbrook and James Harden are the unanimous frontrunners of the award. Both players have put on extraordinary performances throughout the year, and it’s pretty safe to say that this is the closest MVP race we have ever seen in NBA history.
This season, Harden and Westbrook have both combined for 21 40 point games, Harden with 9 and Westbrook with 12. Westbrook and Harden are the only active players to have two career 50 point triple double games tied with Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor. Both players achieved this feat this season.
In the scoring category, they’re almost identical. What’s amazing is that what they’re doing outside of scoring. Westbrook is averaging a triple double while leading the league in scoring with 31.8 points. Harden is the 2nd place leader in scoring while averaging the most assists in the league with 11.3.
Russell Westbrook’s claim to fame this season has been the amount of triple doubles he’s recorded. Westbrook has tallied a total of 38 triple-doubles, and is on pace to surpass Oscar Robertson’s record of most triple doubles in a season. Robertson had 41. There are only 8 more games for Russell Westbrook, so it is very possible that Westbrook breaks this record.
On the other hand, James Harden has 20 triple-doubles and 59 double doubles. This is still a crazy number of triple-doubles despite the fact that it doesn’t match up to Westbrook’s. But, James Harden has been the better passer by far. Harden has had 10 games where he’s had at least 15-19 assists and 46 games putting up 10-14 assists.
James Harden has more win shares than Russell Westbrook with 14.4 compared to Russell’s 12. Harden has more of a team to work with than Russell Westbrook does, which is why the Rockets have a better record. Russell Westbrook has the better player efficiency rating with 30.6. Harden’s PER is 27.7. This could also be because Westbrook has to carry a bigger load than Harden. Westbrook has a the edge on defense overall.
I believe that these last few games will be important in determining who should win. If James Harden or Russell Westbrook has an absurd scoring outburst, things could shift.
James Harden’s Notable Stats: