Russell Westbrook: The real MVP?

Published: March 3, 2016

PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS OKLAHOMA CITY point guard Russell Westbrook soars above Cleveland Cavalier defenders LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson during a 2015 game in the Quicken Loans Arena. Despite the recent remarkable play of Golden State’s Stephen Curry, the frenetic Westbrook is doing everything in his power to garner serious MVP consideration.

PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / 
OKLAHOMA CITY point guard Russell Westbrook soars above Cleveland Cavalier defenders LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson during a 2015 game in the Quicken Loans Arena. Despite the recent remarkable play of Golden State’s Stephen Curry, the frenetic Westbrook is doing everything in his power to garner serious MVP consideration.

Commentary by
CHRISTIAN MCVEIGH

If you are reading this you are probably like everyone else and think that Steph Curry is unbelievable, which is true, but Russell Westbrook is better.

Do not get me wrong, he is one of the best shooters of all time and the league can’t figure out how to stop him, but he is overrated.

Westbrook, on the other hand, is overlooked because his game is not as flashy as Curry’s, yet Westbrook is the more complete basketball player and does more for his team.

The first thing I compared is the players’ supporting casts. It is easy to see what Curry is doing and believe that he improved his game a lot instead of looking at the rest of his team. Curry absolutely could not be in a better system. He is a shooter, a great one, but shooters need people around them more than anyone.

Does anyone remember the first six years of Curry’s career?

He could always shoot, but until the Warriors acquired players like Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, teams could easily focus on Curry and prevent him from shooting. Recently, however, the Warriors have built Curry the perfect team.

With Thompson, Harrison Barnes and other offensive talents, opponents cannot simply double-team Curry because the floor is spaced constantly, providing Curry with the perfect role for his play-style.

Also, Green and Iguodala are defensive superstars and passing maestros, taking the top defensive challenges away from Curry as well as most of the ball-handling duties.

Now let us discuss the Oklahoma City Thunder, a.k.a. the Kevin Durant show. Oklahoma City’s guard rotation is one of the worst in the league, forcing Westbrook to handle the ball almost all the time as well as taking the opponents’ best player on defense.

Normally, this would mean Westbrook’s statistics would be sky-high, except he plays with three-time scoring champion Durant, who takes a lot of shots from Westbrook.

Unlike the Warriors, the Thunder barely have any supporting cast around Westbrook, allowing opponents to defensively focus on him.

I also realize that Westbrook is a somewhat overlooked defender, but defending is something he does very well. He is an all-around star that is also a stonewall defensively.

He is superior to Steph in speed, strength and basically all athletic categories.

Curry might have the advantage in dribbling and shooting, but Westbrook beats that with his ability to drive, rebound, defend and finish.

Finally, I come down to statistics. Over the past two years, Westbrook has averaged 26.2 points per game, one point below Curry’s 27.25.

Westbrook has averaged 7.45 rebounds and 9.45 assists per game over the last two seasons whereas Curry has only averaged 4.8 rebounds and 7.15 assists per game, according to ESPN.

This proves that Westbrook does more for his team and that if the league restarted, Westbrook should be the first draft pick.
For anyone still shaking their head at my argument, take a look at Westbrook’s play when Durant was injured for 11 games and Westbrook was the first option in Oklahoma City last season..

He posted six triple-doubles, single-handedly decimating teams and almost dragging a terrible Thunder team to the playoffs while averaging 32.9 points, 10.1 rebounds and 11.1 assists per game, according to ESPN.

They are both amazing players.

But the way I see it, if you put Westbrook on a team of role-players tailor-made for him the way the Warriors are for Curry, he would be the undisputed best player in the league.

Simply put, Westbrook deserves a lot more respect.

Contact the writer: christian.mcveigh@scranton.edu

2 Responses to Russell Westbrook: The real MVP?

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  2. George Reply

    May 26, 2016 at 10:35 pm

    Completely agree! This article was written in march, and at the time the unanimous mvp propaganda had just begun in favor of steph by the poor work of the journalistic community. Don’t get me wrong, steph is a tremendous player and was part of a historic season; but was he truly the unanimous mvp? I don’t think so. To completely disregard westbrook or what he did and what he meant to okc this season, a season in where he ties magic johnson for the single season triple double record is astonishing! Frankly it makes me question the integrity, motives, agenda, and the competence of the people responsible for voting. The only thing I can think to be more prestigious than a triple double is a quadruple double, which I don’t think has happened since david robinson. And sure not all triple doubles are created equal, but the kinds that westbrook posted were top notch- 30/10/10 or 20/10/10, yet he can’t gather ONE first place vote? In addition, westbrook lead curry in three of the top five statistical categories: ast/reb/blk, ast and reb westbrook substantially ahead of curry. As far as steals, they were virtually tied. Sure curry beat westbrook 30 to 23 in ppg, but let’s not forget that nash won his mvp with 15 ppg, and curry won his last year with 23 ppg. So what’s the logic? The 73 game winning season? Because I know we’ve had plenty of mvp’s who haven’t played on teams with the best record, and westbrook and okc I think did pretty well for themselves. Is it the three point record? Because I don’t recall allen or miller ever winning an mvp. But I get it, it’s the combination of all those records and stats that earned curry the mvp. I’m not arguing whether he’s the mvp or not; I’m only in doubt of our unanimous, unequivocal, and unchallenged mvp voting system.

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