2016-17- The Westbrook triple-double MVP
The Russell Westbrook slander today is so overblown and annoying. He’s a Pitbull and one of the few superstars who gives maximum effort on every play, and people find a way to hate that just because he doesn’t have a championship ring. Only one team wins the championship every year and if you’re not LeBron James or at least on LeBron’s team, your chances decrease dramatically to even be in the finals. I say all that to say this, Russell Westbrook should not have won MVP in 2016-17.
The stats are incredible on paper right? I mean, the guy averaged a triple-double for the season, the first since the legend Oscar Robertson. The problem is, the Thunder had just lost Kevin Durant to the warriors in free agency and they made their season about Russell Westbrook’s triple doubles. Which I think was brilliant for OKC. They just lost Durant, the Thunder weren’t going to contend for a championship, why not give their fans something to cheer about all while appeasing their best player.
This one is easy for me, this season belonged to Harden. The Rockets are coming off a first round exit the year before, this was also D’antoni’s first season as the head coach, I always referred to that team as the “live by the 3, die by the 3 team” that they ended up being for the next few seasons. Harden reinvented himself as a player that season, and led the league in assists. All while on a team that were great in their role but not any superstar or All-Star player to pair along with him.
Here’s Harden’s supporting cast that season, Clint Capela, Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza, Pat Beverly, and Lou Williams who they acquired at the trade deadline. Not a great team, no superstars, but they could all shoot the 3 at a high level aside from Capela. Although, Capela might be the main reason Harden was No. 1 in assists that season from all the lobs in that devastating pick in roll they would run.
Again, not that Westbrook had some great cast of characters surrounding him either, but the Rockets exceeded expectations and formed into their style of play that gave them a chance at the title multiple times against Golden State in the playoffs. Westbrook averaging a triple double and getting that OKC team in the playoffs is definitely impressive.
I just feel it’s less impressive than Harden’s season as a top 5 scorer and league leader in assists and getting the 3rd seed in the western conference with the 2017 Warriors (arguably best team ever) and the 2017 Spurs (Kawhi’s best season).