Why Russell Westbrook Shouldn’t win the MVP Award…

Russell Westbrook

The MVP discussion has been one of the most exciting of recent years – the emergence of Stephen Curry as a true all-star has taken the majority of the spotlight, but another point guard is also making a late push for the Maurice Podoloff Trophy.

Amidst turmoil surrounding poor performances, roster changes and Kevin Durant’s surgically repaired foot, Russell Westbrook has stepped up his game to an utterly ridiculous level – and is single handedly keeping Oklahoma in playoff contention.

But regarding this year’s regular season MVP award, Westbrook simply shouldn’t be a realistic option…

Turnover City

Admittedly, Westbrook’s ability to score the ball has been something to admire, especially since the All-Star Weekend – with his production jumping from 25ppg to over 30ppg. However, his ferocity heading to the rim has coincided with a willingness to give the ball away, which isn’t something to be ignored.

In fact, behind the flashy numbers there are some telling signs of a player who’s simply trying to do too much with the ball. Turnovers have been an issue for him all year, so the fact that he leads the league comes as no surprise – but it’s a trait that’s grown regularly throughout the season.

Westbrook MVP

In fact, during March, the month Westbrook racked up four of his season’s nine triple-doubles, he also averaged six turnovers per game. Even for a coach like Scott Brooks, who seemingly gives his star players free reign of the offense, those are astonishingly bad numbers – especially given that he shot only marginally above 40%.

Whilst Stephen Curry is no saint when it comes to turning the ball over (amassing a 3.1topg average), Westbrook is on a whole other level. Whilst this can be tucked away at the end of a box score during games, it doesn’t help a team produce winning basketball, and even makes him somewhat of a liability in late game situations – the complete opposite of what makes a player valuable to their team.

The Russell Westbrook Attitude

Whilst attitude isn’t completely indicative of performance on the basketball court, Westbrook hasn’t endeared himself to many of the vote casters. You can find some evidence of this by checking out one of the strangest NBA interviews we’ve ever seen – where Westbrook takes a page from Marshawn Lynch’s book.

If we were talking the pre-1980 change in MVP voting style, where players made the call on who would win, then Westbrook might have higher hopes –but his lack of respect toward interviews won’t be helping his cause with media votes making the bulk of the count nowadays.

Of course many voters will have their own view on Westbrook and his fiery demeanour, but considering Stephen Curry’s laidback approach to the media and James Harden’s similar easy-going attitude, it could sway some minds.

Success Wins MVP Votes

Is Stephen Curry better than Russell Westbrook?

The struggles at the Chesapeake Energy Arena will also have a big input on Westbrook’s MVP hopes. The fact that Oklahoma are still in the thick of a playoff fight won’t be garnering MVP chatter, which is typically reserved for teams who are pushing for a trip to the Finals.

Across the 68 MVPs named in NBA and ABA history, only once has a player managed to claim the award without joining the playoff party. Unfortunately for Westbrook, he’s not quite the player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was in a Lakers uniform back in 1975. If you’re curious, Kareem managed a ridiculous 27.7ppg, 16.9rpg, 5apg, 4.1bpg and 1.5spg on almost 53% shooting – match that if you can Russell…

A similar plight is also causing trouble for another MVP award hopeful in the Western Conference – namely Anthony Davis, who is ahead of Westbrook on this writer’s voting card. The Pelican’s forward has far fewer flaws in his overall game compared to Westbrook, and is doing things alone, something which can’t be always said of the former UCLA point guard.

Of course, winning doesn’t always come down to Westbrook, and the injury problems of Kevin Durant will no doubt have played a part. Similarly, some of the trades in Oklahoma have mixed things up as well – with the loss of Reggie Jackson sure to have made some kind of impact.

Is Scott Brooks to blame for Oklahoma's failures?

However, the real thorn in Oklahoma’s side has been the coaching style of Scott Brooks, who’s begun to draw comparison to Mark Jackson circa 2013/14. Whilst he does have plenty of support from players like Durant and Westbrook, in the eyes of most neutrals he’s become something of a pretender. In fact, many would argue that considering the talent he had on his roster, the minimum you’d expect from any coach is a deep trip into the playoffs – but he lacks the mettle to actually come out of a series completely clean.

For the majority of games, it appears that Brooks is content with getting the ball to either Durant or Westbrook and then hoping for the best. Considering their exceptional talents this might be a sound plan against lesser teams – but will it really be effective against a team also pushing for success? Evidently not.

For Westbrook to see success with Oklahoma, it might be time for the team to make the decision to push on without Brooks. Whilst it may be a risky move, it could be one which could finally bring some success to Oklahoma. Considering the team’s current circumstances, the off-season could be an ideal time to make such a move, and whilst it won’t be the most popular decision – it could be the wisest move in the long run.

Westbrook: A Future NBA MVP?

The signs Russell Westbrook has shown this season are good, but right now the Oklahoma point guard is still behind a number of other MVP candidates. If he can knock down his turnover numbers and help Oklahoma back into real playoff contention in the upcoming seasons then he might be a more tempting candidate…

My personal MVP votes: 1. Stephen Curry 2. James Harden 3. Anthony Davis 4. Lebron James 5. Lamarcus Aldridge

Luke Hatfield is the creator and editor of BouncyOrangeBall, with an extensive knowledge of the NBA and basketball in general.

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