Debunking the Russell Westbrook “does more with less” debate: Plus, who is the real NBA MVP?
Somewhere between Kevin Durant leaving and Russell Westbrook’s triple double barrage there has been this thought that Russell Westbrook’s supporting cast is “weak”. That is the case you hear the most when someone is defending Westbrook’s play and MVP candidacy.
With the season closing in, the MFST writers have been having furious debates as to who should win the NBA MVP. Most favor Westbrook, but myself and a few others still believe in James Harden as the true MVP.
I’m here to squash this debate that Russell Westbrook is doing “more with less.”
Let’s look at both Westbrook’s and Harden’s supporting cast….
Steven Adams: 11.4 PPG. 7.7 RPG, 1.1 APG (all career-highs) 57% from the field.
Enes Kanter: 14.4 PPG. 6.7 RPG, 1.0 APG, 53% from the field.
Clint Capela: 12.4 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.0 APG, 63% from the field.
Nene: 9.1 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.0 APG, 61% from the field.
Who wins: The Thunder have the better combo of big men—both are young, fresh and make an impact in many ways. Clint Capela may be the single best out of this group, but an aging Nene can’t do what he was once capable of doing. Advantage: Thunder
Taj Gibson: 11 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.0 APG, 52% from the field
Andre Roberson: 6.6 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.0 APG, 1.0 BPG, 1.2 SPG, 47% from the field
Doug McDermott: 9.0 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 1.0 APG, 45% from the field
Jerami Grant: 5.3 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 1.0 BPG, 46% from the field
Ryan Anderson: 13.5 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 41% from the field
Trevor Ariza: 11.7 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 2.1 APG, 42% from the field
Montrezl Harrell: 9.0 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.1 APG, 65% from the field
Sam Dekker: 6.5 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 1.0 APG, 47% from the field
Corey Brewer (injured): 4.2 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 1.1 APG, 42% from the field
Who wins: The Rockets starters (Anderson and Ariza) do post better numbers offensively but Anderson is a liability on the defensive end of the floor. For the Thunder, Gibson is an experienced piece to go along with Andre Roberson who could be the best perimeter defender in the NBA. Overall, the Rockets group is better, but the Thunder forwards are severely underrated and overall are better defensively. Advantage: Rockets offensively, Thunder defensively
Victor Oladipo: 16 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.2 SPG, 44% from the field (career high)
Alex Abrines: 5.9 PPG, 1.2 RPG, 1.0 APG, 40% from the field
Semaj Christon: 2.8 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 2.0 APG, 35% from the field
Anthony Morrow (injured): 5.8 PPG, 1.0 RPG, 0.5 APG, 39% from the field
Patrick Beverly: 9.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 4.2 APG, 42% from the field
Lou Williams (injured): 15.3 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 2.4 APG, 39% from the field
Eric Gordon: 16.3 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 2.6 APG, 40% from the field
Bobby Brown: 2.0 PPG, 0.3 RPG, 0.2 APG 37% from the field
Who wins: The Rockets group is deeper, but they have dealt with injuries to both Williams, Gordon and Beverly—one reason why they are relying on 32-year-old Bobby Brown so often. Oladipo is the best two-way player on this list–he’s a great defender and is shooting the best percentage of his career. The rest of the Thunder’s guards are non-factors, although Alex Abrines can develop into a starting-caliber guard in the NBA. One thing to point out–Lou Williams who is currently injured, is not putting up close to the numbers he did in LA earlier in the year. Advantage: Rockets
More MVP notes and tidbits
- There has not been an NBA MVP secure LESS than the 3-seed in either conference—That’s over 38 years—winning DOES matter in the MVP race. The last time that happened was 1981 (Moses Malone).
- The Rockets have lost to THREE teams with losing records
- The Thunder have to TWELVE teams with losing records
- The triple double is nice but if you look at the OVERALL picture: Westbrook is averaging less than two points more than Harden, two rebounds, but LESS assists which unlike rebounds calculate POINTS for your team
- Harden, analytically has had a BETTER season OFFENSIVELY and DEFENSIVELY in terms of overall EFFICIENCY
One question I will pose: Are two rebounds more important than eight wins? Not in my eyes.
What I wish would happen: Listen, I one hundred percent respect what Westbrook has done this season, but if Harden was in that same situation I fully believe his numbers would be even better than Russell’s—they almost are now and he doesn’t dominate the ball the way Westbrook does. The Rockets and Thunder will meet in the playoffs—I WISH the winner of that series would get the MVP (if Rockets win–Harden gets it. If the Thunder win–Westbrook gets it). See that’s simple.
Who do you believe should win the NBA MVP? Vote below…