Despite all the hoopla Russell Westbrook has generated with multiple triple doubles, gaudy stat lines, & cupcake memes; It doesn’t warrant him “serious” consideration of this years MVP award. Although the mainstream media has obsessed over Russell Westbrook’s individual numbers, Westbrook has prevented fans & media alike to ignore the team’s overall play as a whole in the context of the entire league. There’s no question that Westbrook averaging a triple double throughout an 82 game season (The first such season since the great Oscar Robertson.) is a tremendous feat. However the Most Valuable Player award isn’t based upon who has the best statistical numbers throughout the season….it’s about who has the best numbers AND who has the most team success. As far as Basketball “Teams” go, there’s no question that essentially all the attention that the Oklahoma City Thunder gets is about their Star Point Gaurd & not how good their actual team is. Despite having a respectable 44-33 record with 5 games left; the OKC Thunder are far away from being a serious contender this season. Being the best player on a team that’s (currently) a 6th seed in the Western Conference does not typically constitute serious consideration for the MVP award, regardless of big numbers from an individual player.
Case in point, the Career Season of Kobe Bryant. In his second year playing without Shaquille O’Neal he had the second greatest scoring game ever.
Not only did the Black Mamba score 81 points in one game, he averaged 35 Points a game that season, the most points averaged in a season since Michael Jordan was dominating the Association. However, despite Bryant’s dominance that year & leading his team to the Playoffs, Bryant didn’t even crack the top 3 in the MVP voting that year that was awarded to Steve Nash. The main reason being was that despite Kobe Bryant’s scoring prowess that year, his team won only 45 games, resulting in a 7th seed. Despite taking a Phoenix Suns team to 7 games before losing in the first round, It was mostly a forgettable season for the Los Angeles Lakers TEAM outside of the INDIVIDUAL brilliance of Kobe Bean Bryant. Speaking of Michael Jordan, in 1986 (the year before Scottie Pippen was drafted) the Chicago Bulls were a playoff team lead by Jordan who averaged 37 points per game that season. It was Jordan’s career high in points averaged for a 82 game season. They were swept by the Boston Celtics that year in the playoffs.
Which Brings us back to Russell Westbrook, the Triple Double season is ultimately the Trump card when it comes to justifying his MVP candidacy. Not how well his team his playing, which is entirely predicated on how well Russell Westbrook plays; which by the way isn’t completely exclusive to Westbrook. Practically every year there are teams that are essentially one-man shows with the teams success directly related to the exemplary play of one Star player, & every year they make the playoffs only to lose in the first round. Ladies & Gentlemen, this is not MVP material. The Most Valuable Player award isn’t predicated on what individual player has the best statistical season. The MVP award across all major league American sports is primarily about Team Success then Individual performance. As a matter of fact, no NBA player has won the MVP Award in the past 30 years without going into the Playoffs being at WORST the 3rd overall seed. (Curry was 2-time MVP in 15 & 16)
The bottom line is that despite Westbrook’s efforts the team just hasn’t won enough games to be considered one of the elite teams in the league. Star Players on Elite Teams win MVP awards. Its unreasonable to think that Russell Westbrook is going to break a 30 year trend in MVP voting just because he averaged a triple double on a slightly above average OKC team. The Oklahoma City Thunder are solely dependent on Russell Westbrook getting a triple double to even compete against most teams, which means they are likely 1st round fodder to either the Houston Rockets or San Antonio Spurs (depending on the final standings.) Russell Westbrook’s season will no doubt be remembered by his peers & sports fans for the foreseeable future. But MVP of the league is something he is not.