After breaking Oscar Robertson’s record for triple-doubles in a season – while also scoring 50 points and hitting the game-winning three at the buzzer in Denver – Russell Westbrook, surely, won himself the MVP award, right?
Maybe, maybe not.
“Well, a lot of people are going to vote for James Harden, and people are going to vote for Kawhi Leonard,” NBA Radio host and Forbes and Sporting News writer Mitch Lawrence said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “Remember: there are five people you vote on the ballot, so we’ll see who gets a lot of first-place votes, second-place votes, etc.”
Westbrook is averaging 31.9 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game.
“Let’s go back to Oscar Robertson,” Lawrence said. “When Oscar Robertson averaged a triple-double in 1961-62, as he tells people, it wasn’t a big deal back then because nobody knew what a triple-double was. You just went out and played and he had these great statistics and we knew he was a hell of an all-around player. But as time went on through the years, what did everybody say? ‘That’s a record that’ll never be broken. Nobody’s ever going to average a triple-double.’ Well this year, Russell Westbrook did that. And by the way, the games that he did that, they’re 33-9. And by the way, he’s got no supporting cast.”
Oklahoma City’s best non-Westbrook players are Victor Oladipo, Enes Kanter and Steven Adams.
“To get to sixth place with that team is an unbelievable achievement,” Lawrence said. “To me, it’s a historic deal. Usually the MVP doesn’t go to a guy unless he’s on the first or second team in the conference, right? A top-two seed. He’ll be the 6-seed. But I think you have to make an exception for Westbrook because not just the triple-doubles, but he got that team to sixth place in the West, which is a tremendous accomplishment.”
Some people, however, would give the MVP to Harden because the Rockets (54-27) have won more games than the Thunder (46-34).
Lawrence would not.
“They’ve only won eight more games,” he said. “They didn’t win 60, 65 games. They’ve won (54 games). That’s not a big difference between he and Russell Westbrook. I got to give the vote to (Westbrook). When a guy makes history like that, when he ties history with the great Oscar Robertson, I think you have to make an exception. You have to honor this and give the guy the MVP. He has deserved it. And by the way, he doesn’t rest, which we love. Russell Westbrook is a throwback. He plays relentlessly, and he never takes nights off.”