Russell Westbrook is a legitimate MVP candidate and he’s not even the best player on his own team.
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But the second part doesn’t matter right now.
Kevin Durant, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s alpha dog, go-to scorer and reigning MVP, has missed 35 games this season due to a foot injury.
Enter Westbrook, who’s putting up historical numbers at an unfathomable pace, to keep the Thunder alive for the playoffs in the hyper-competitive Western Conference.
Here’s the quantitative summary of what Westbrook is doing: a league-leading 27.4 scoring average, 8.1 assists and 7.0 rebounds per game, a player efficiency rating (PER) of 30.06, eight 40-point games and six triple-doubles, including four straight just in the past week-plus.
The triple-doubles haven’t been of the ‘barely’ kind either.
We’re talking about the 40 points-15 rebounds-10 assists kind that bring to mind Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Oscar Robertson.
Now here’s the qualitative breakdown: Russ has no chill. Ever.
He plays 100 km per hour every single night like his hair is on fire.
He’s a blur in the open court and attacks the basket with such ferocity, you would think the rim said something nasty about one of his family members.
Without Batman, most Robins would assume more responsibility.
Westbrook, being the competitor he is, is taking it to another level, trying to make up for the loss of Durant by actually accounting for two players at the same time.
And he’s largely succeeding.
With Westbrook in the line-up and Durant out, the Thunder are 11-7 this season. That’s not a sparkling record, but consider that Oklahoma City are practically built on their three pillars of Durant, Westbrook and Serge Ibaka.
Theoretically, if you remove one pillar from a top-heavy roster, the structure should crumble like a Jenga tower.
The Thunder have teetered this season, but thanks to Westbrook, they haven’t fallen.
In terms of his MVP candidacy, Westbrook probably won’t win the award.
That’s not a knock on him, but more telling of how many great candidates there are.
It doesn’t help that Westbrook himself has missed 15 games so far, while the likes of Stephen Curry and James Harden have been on the floor practically every night.
That might not be a fair factor, but every game counts.
Critics will also point to Westbrook’s numbers as being bloated and empty calories, more quantity than quality.
But if we’re being honest, there’s no other player that’s more entertaining to watch right now.
You can keep the MVP, Russell Westbrook will settle for world domination.
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