Last season, more than any in recent memory, raised the question: What makes an MVP? We had the argument for eventual award winner Russel Westbrook. Those who voted for him had a bounty of counting stats to point to and ultimately leaned on the weight of the phrase “triple double”. Westbrook averaged a triple double which hadn’t been done since 1962 when Oscar Robertson did it, wow, super cool. Behind his historic season the Thunder had a record of 47-35, the 16th ranked offense and the 10th best defense while exiting the playoffs against the Houston Rockets after a 4-1 series beat down. His supporting cast wasn't exactly incredible but regardless, that's not an outstanding year for Oklahoma City.
Not far behind Russ was James "The Beard" Harden. Harden had a line of 29.1 points, 11.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds last season. Though that's not quite a triple double, Harden actually averaged one more assist per game and only 2 less rebounds. Side by side the stats are damn close and when we see that Houston would eventually annihilate the Thunder in the first round it becomes clear that Harden's Rockets with their 55-27 record were a much better team; partially because of his impact on the court. The Rockets were better than the Thunder, that much is obvious, but with the award already announced we know that voters choose triple doubles over wins.
I have to say that I'm on the side of the voters who chose wins, but deeper than that, my candidate has to defend. This brings me to who, in my mind, is headed for the 2017-18 MVP award. That man is Lebron James.
What do this years Thunder look like without Westbrook? Sadly, I have to say better. They may have some semblance of an orchestrated offense as opposed to a point guard who ditches the ball rather than dishes it.
What do the Rockets look like without Harden? Well I think Houston would look pretty alright. Chris Paul running the point with capable outside shooters and a serviceable inside rotation sounds like a 6 or 7 seed in the west as opposed to the top 2 they are now.
What in the world does Cleveland look like without Lebron? This may be a stretch but I see the Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Deron Williams Brooklyn Nets. Yes, they have plenty of playoff experience but as we saw with those Nets, it isn't enough. I see an aging team of former superstars who can still win a game but who don't have the longevity needed to make a push deep into the playoffs. The bottom line is Lebron James makes the Cavs great. Lebron James "makes" any team he's on. Unlike any player in the league you can add Lebron to any roster and they become a contender. His stats in his 15th NBA season are not human. He is flirting with a season triple double while also willing his team to wins on a nightly basis.
Rather than kiss anymore Lebron ass I'll say this: MVP stands for Most Valuable Player. I think it's obvious, wins are the most valuable commodity for an NBA team. Triple doubles don't mean wins. Playing defense helps you win, scoring the basketball helps you win. Who does both better than anyone in the league? I won't answer that for you. I'll just say that we've come to take Lebron for granted and maybe the best two way player in the game should be seen for what he really is. The best player in the game.
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