KJHK’s NBA MVP award picks

Russell Westbrook. When you look at all the numbers, most notably the triple-doubles, he is easily the most valuable player to his team. The Thunder are 33-9 when Russ notches a triple-double, and that stat alone shows his value to the team. Not only that, but he is now the first player since Oscar Robertson in 1961-1962 to average a triple-double for an entire season and also now has the most triple-doubles in a single season with 42. He also has averaged a triple-double in nearly nine less minutes per game than Oscar did. All in all, Russell Westbrook is the single reason the Thunder are in the playoffs at all. Without him, the Thunder would not be a playoff team. – Fulton Caster

Russell Westbrook. It’s got to be Westbrook, but I don’t think it’s exclusively because of his triple-doubles. Obviously it’s an incredible feat to average a triple-double for the season and to own the record for the most triple-doubles in a season, but considering the arbitrary nature of the stat, it doesn’t tell the whole story (for example, ESPN’s Zach Lowe has pointed out the brazen rebound stat padding Westbrook’s done this season, and you can see him hunt for assists at a Rondo-like pace when he wants to get to double digits). What makes him deserving, instead, is that he is dominating opposing teams and leading the Thunder to wins single handedly. He has a poor surrounding cast, all things considered, thus he essentially has to do everything for OKC to pull out wins. He deserves the award, but because of his persistence and the fact that he’s carrying the team on his back, not because of the triple-doubles. -Brendan Dzwierzynski

Kawhi Leonard. Despite LeBron having better numbers this year than his four previous MVP seasons, his DNPs takes him out of the running. As great as Westbrook’s year has been with triple-doubles, it was for a team that only won 47 games. Harden will always be handicapped by his lack of defense, despite improving this season. Kawhi averaged 26 points and 6 rebounds on the second-best team in the league while being arguably the best one-on-one defender. The MVP should be on the best team, but the Warriors are way too balanced this year. Kawhi takes it. – Mac Moore

James Harden. Look, I don’t want to make it sound like wins are everything here, but I think it’s the best tiebreaker we can use in this case. Harden and Russell Westbrook are in a league of their own in the MVP conversation this year, and they have very similar numbers. Before the season started, however, the Rockets were consistently picked to finish with much fewer wins than the Thunder. Not very many people thought Houston would make the playoffs after losing Dwight Howard. Despite this, and despite having to implement a completely new system with Mike D’Antoni at the helm, the Rockets have 55 wins to OKC’s 47. Harden has lead the charge, and without him the Rockets would be one of the worst teams in the league. – Nick Lewis

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