What we know for sure is that it’s a three man race: Westbrook, Houston’s James Harden and Cleveland’s LeBron James. And if you want to make it a four man contest, throw in San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard.
While we are as impressed as anybody that Westbrook is averaging a triple double with 31.2 points, 10.5 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game, we can’t vote for him for MVP.
He takes more shots than anybody in the league at 23.8 heaves per game. Yet New Orleans’ Anthony Davis has made more shots on average than Westbrook, despite shooting about four fewer shots per game.
And then there’s the assist to turnover ratio. This can be a traitorous stat with players who have the ball in their hands the majority of the time.
They’re prone to more turnovers. But Westbrook is just 97th in the league at 1.93 assists per turnover. He averages 5.4 giveaways per game.
True, Harden isn’t much better, ranking 95th at 2.0 assists per turnover.
But when it comes to who the MVP is, one of the most important numbers is the win column.
The Rockets are rolling with the third best record in the NBA. They already have topped 50 wins, and Oklahoma City is in danger of dropping to seventh in the Western Conference.
Granted, losing Kevin Durant is a tough blow for a franchise, and Westbrook has propped up the team this season. But what Harden has done with the Rockets in Mike D’Antoni’s system is remarkable. Bear in mind he’s leading the NBA in assists and second in scoring. His 8 rebounds per game put him in the top 25 in the league in that category.
For the sake of transparency, let’s be clear that there’s no wrong vote in this election. Picking from Harden, Westbrook, James and Leonard is like picking the Miss America winner out of the lineup of finalists. Hard to get it wrong.