By Suave Francisco
Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook may be better than people give him credit for. Throughout his career, both local and national media members have been overly critical of him because of his aggressive mentality and personality.
He’s always been a high-energy type of player, a player that doesn’t fit the mold of any one position and that caused people to be confused and uncomfortable. The NBA has possibly seen a player with the same personality as him, but it’s impossible, or near impossible to find a player with his playing style. Year-by-year we’ve watched him grow as a player. We’ve seen him grow from a young rookie out of UCLA that was just trying to adjust to the point guard position in the NBA into the poised veteran he is now.
In his seventh season, he’s been unbelievable. Averaging 23.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 10.4 assists per game, with the largest milestone being the 18 triple-doubles during the regular season. He’s been unbelievable, and eliminating all politics, he’s the best player in the NBA right now. Yes, there’s this guy named Stephen Curry who may have something to say about that, though, with reason! He’s won two straight NBA Most Valuable Player awards now, and his team is the best regular season team the NBA has seen. He’s also the best scorer and shooter the NBA has seen, so of course, in this highlight-driven world we live in today, he’s the MVP.
If you look at basic statistics and eliminate all the politics surrounding the MVP award you’d have no choice but to have Russell Westbrook as the better all-around player. Meaning, if you looked at the numbers and only the numbers blindly, you’d easily have Steph and Russ at No. 1 and No. 2. Maybe giving Russell a slight edge over Steph.
This season Steph averaged an unbelievable 30.1 points per game, but only adds 5.4 rebounds, and 6.7 assists per game to his season average, and although that’s still very good, in comparison to Russell’s numbers, you have to wonder…who’s the better player? Curry is by far the most explosive shooter and the most exciting player in the league’s history. He’s a great passer as well but come on…Russell averages a double-double. As a matter of fact, he’s only about two rebounds shy of averaging a triple-double. Lebron averaged eight rebounds one time in his career and since then he’s averaged 6.7 rebounds per game, standing at 6-foot-8, 250 pounds from the forward position. In no way does this mean Lebron isn’t an elite rebounder in the league from the perimeter, it just shows how much better Russell, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound point guard is.
It’s pretty apparent, if OKC was the one or two-seed in the Western Conference, Russell would’ve won the league’s MVP this year and possibly even last year. Actually, the only things Steph has over Westbrook is points per game, steals per game, (2.1 vs. 2.0) and the better regular season team. Russell has him beat in assists, rebounds, and blocks per game. Can’t beat the facts. It’s okay, though.
Don’t take this as shade, thrown Stephen Curry’s way at all. This is an attempt to show why Russell Westbrook should have been more of a contender for the MVP award. Fourth place is just unwarranted.
His game Tuesday night in Game 5 of the Western Conference semi-finals may have been his retaliation to being the “fourth best player in the NBA,” two spots lower than San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard. How do 35 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists sound? Not to mention, he had 6 turnovers in the first half and finished down the stretch with just two. He completely adjusted his game at halftime and came out a different player.