As we approach the midpoint of the NBA season, there are three bonafide MVP candidates: LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and James Harden.
James is averaging 26.1 points, 8.1 assists and 7.9 rebounds for the Cavs (32-10), who are atop the East. Westbrook has 18 triple-doubles and is averaging 31.0 points, 10.5 assists and 10.7 rebounds for the Thunder (24-16), who are sixth in the West. And Harden is averaging 28.6 points, 11.8 rebounds and 8.3 rebounds for the Rockets (31-10), who are three games back of Golden State for the top seed in the West.
If you could only have one of those players, who would you take?
“LeBron, to me, that’s the guy you take if you have to take a player – because he does it all and he’s a winner,” NBA Radio host Mitch Lawrence said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “Harden hasn’t won anything yet, and Westbrook hasn’t won anything yet. LeBron, he keeps going to Finals, he’s the winner, and he makes guys better. The biggest joke I heard recently was when people said when they got Kyle Korver in the trade, ‘Wow, this is a great fit for them.’ Let me tell you: You’re a great fit with a broken hand with 14 pins in your hand because LeBron James is going to make you better. That’s the whole deal with LeBron James. He’s No. 1.”
But he is not Lawrence’s MVP.
“Harden, to me, is the MVP this year,” he said. “Did you know what their over-under was? Forty-one-and-a-half, I think. They’re going to win 62, 63 games. They’re on pace to do that. Nobody thought they’d be that good. The guy’s breaking his personal assist records. He’s averaging like 11 dimes. You know with Mike D’Antoni’s offense, his system is great for point guards, and he’s raised the level of those players. (Harden) goes to the rim now hard, but he’s looking to pass instead of just going to the line or shooting. The way Houston has won this year, he’s got to be the leader.”
So does Westbrook. Oklahoma City is 15-3 when he records a triple-double, and the Thunder have needed every one of them. He just doesn’t have a second banana.
“Russell Westbrook, he just doesn’t have enough help,” Lawrence said. “His supporting cast is really feeble when you think about it. Victor Oladipo, guys like Enes Kanter, Steven Adams – there are no All-Stars there. He’s got have a triple double every night for them to win. That’s the way it’s going to be.”