Could Russell Westbrook really win the MVP award?

Published by Axel on 17th January - 19:08 (CET)
And why is that, you might wonder. Well, the other day when we had a top secret Flagrant Flop meeting the very same question was brought up. Someone pointed out that Westbrook's low field goal percentage would hinder him from bringing him the prestigious award. While it's true that his .425 season average in field goal percentage is the lowest since his sophomore season, we've still had numerous of MVP's with a relative low field goal percentage.

Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Bob Petit, Dave Cowens, Bob Cousy and Derrick Rose have all won the award shooting worse than .466 from the field. Heck, Allen Iverson only averaged .420 when he won the award back in 2001.

I honestly don't think that the voters will be swayed because of Russell's ineffective offense alone. That kind of ineffectiveness comes with the territory when you're the only player on the roster making plays. When Derrick Rose won in 2011 he only shot .445 from the field, but he was still responsible for more than 70% of Chicago's offense via PTS/AST when he was on the floor. Westbrook is currently doing the exact same thing. The only difference is that Rose led his team to a league best record, while Westbrook's Oklahoma City Thunder currently are tied for the 10th best record in the league.

So will the faith of the Oklahoma City Thunder hold him back? Moses Malone won the MVP award with his 6th seeded Rockets in 1982 and Kareem Abdul Jabbar won the award in 1976 without even making the playoffs. It can be done, and the Thunder still have a realistic shot at the 4th or 5th seed if they step up their game.

Westbrook is having one of the most impressive season's ever witnessed as he's currently on pace of putting himself up with Oscar Robertson as the only players to average a triple double during a full season. Shouldn't that be enough to win the MVP award?

No, it's not. Russell is currently averaging 30.7 points, 10.4 assists, 10.6 rebounds, 1.5 steals and .3 blocks per game while shooting .468 in effective field goal percentage. In 1988-89, Michael Jordan was the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and averaged 32.5 points, 8.0 assists, 8.0 rebounds, 2.9 steals and 0.8 blocks per game. With an effective field goal percentage of .546 - the 36th best eFG% in NBA history - even the biggest LeBron-lover will admit that Jordan's season is the more impressive one. Jordan's Bulls finished with a 6th seed, and the MVP award went to Magic Johnson.

If the games' most popular and endorsed player couldn't win the MVP award with such a historic season - arguably better than Westbrook's current one - because of his 6th seed, then Westbrook won't either. Just like in 1988-89, the game is too stacked with star players. Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Damian Lillard, Anthony Davis, DeMar DeRozan, LeBron James and not to mention James Harden.

Russell Westbrook's season is incredibly impressive and we'll probably remember it for a very long time, but it won't be enough to win be the NBA's Most Valuable Player. Not in 2017.

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