Who Else but Russell? The NBA MVP Race Heats Up in 2017

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Who Else but Russell? The NBA MVP Race Heats Up in 2017

Even though we are only 2 days into 2017, it’s never too early to see where Oklahoma City Thunder guard, Russell Westbrook, is stacking up against his peers. Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks “Greek Freak”, is definitely in the running with Russell for league MVP. Other in contention include James Harden, Lebron James, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis. Even though Westbrook has more triple-doubles than a human has fingers, he is outdone in several categories by some unlikely company.

When it comes to points per game, Westbrook is leading the league at 30.9 ppg. Nipping his heels are Anthony Davis with 29.2 points per game, and James Harden at 28.5 points per game. Less than a point and a half separate the 3 of them. Kevin Durant and Lebron James sneak in the top 10, but Steph and Antetokounmpo are left looking in from the outside.

Passing the ball and getting it to guys that can knock shots down is no easy task. Relying on someone else for a stat means the inconsistency per game can be frequent, but 3 out of the 7 players we’ve named fall within the top 5 off assists dished per game. James Harden leads the pack at 12 assists per game, Russell is right behind him at 10.7 per game, and Lebron James sits at the 5 spot with 8.7 dishes per game. Curry and Antetokounmpo are ranked 19th with 5.9 assists per game, Durant sits at 29th in the league, and Anthony Davis isn’t within the top 40.

Westbrook is well known as the best rebounding guard in the league, but how does he stack up against everybody that’s not a guard? When you look around the league, none of the players named in this article appear in the top 5 in rebounding. As a matter of fact, Anthony Davis barely sneaks into the top 10 with 11.6 rebounds per game, which is good enough for 7th in the NBA. Westbrook is right outside the top 10, and records and average of 10.5 boards a game. Durant and Antetokounmpo come in tied at 17th in the league (8.9 reb/g), Harden stands at 24th (8.1 reb/g), and Lebron is ranked at 28th in the league (7.9). Curry doesn’t rank within the top 40 in rebounding, but that’s about as surprising as Davis not being top 40 in assists. Numbers can speak volumes, but can also be deceptive when it comes to position-specific tasks that impact numbers in categories that a center may have, but a point guard doesn’t.

Overall, the numbers for Westbrook are more than impressive and the case for Russell to be league MVP is there, but if the Thunder don’t keep winning consistently, he could get lost in the fray. The players on winning teams tend to win awards like NBA MVP, so being outside the top 5 in the Western Conference come playoff time, could be detrimental to his success.

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