Tag Archives: Russell Westbrook

Russ’ Journey

This journey started in early August crushing spectators reports of Russ leaving Oklahoma City to form a super team in Los Angela’s with fellow UCLA alumni Kevin Love.  Shortly after the Warrior’s signing of Kevin Durant. Russel Westbrook singed an extension with the team that would make him a free agent in the 2017-18 season.  It’s evident of the amount of love shown between Russ and the faithful of Oklahoma City.  He had high expectations all year; most felt if the Thunder were going to remain relevant in a very tough Western Conference then Russ would have to carry the team.

Throughout games in prior seasons we’ve seen glimpses of what he could do when Kevin Durant wasn’t on the floor.  It was clear that with or without Kevin Durant, Russel Westbrook was always going to play his game and put up high number while doing so.  He is a true commander on the court proving to be a leader on a very close team in OKC.

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Fast forward to the all star break, by already posting 27 triple-doubles at this point in the season it was obvious that MVP talks have begun for Westbrook.  At this point in the year was it possible for Westbrook to approach, tie, or maybe even break Oscar Robinson’s legendary record of 41 triple doubles in a season?

Yes it was, currently with four games remaining Russ remains tied with Oscar Robinson.  One would think it’s more than likely that we see this record be broken.  Russel Westbrook hasn’t missed a game all season and is playing the highest level of basketball out of anyone in the league (yes that includes LeBron James).  Also, he’ll most likely finish the regular season averaging a triple double.  For a Point Guard that’s huge, because that means he’s averaging over 10+ rebounds a game.  The NBA world expected Russ to have a good season, but no one thought he’d take over like he’s doing.  He carried this team and made his teammates look good with his strong play and put his team in a solid position to make something happen with their season.

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Regardless, if he remains tied or breaks the record this was a historic season for Russ.  By showing this consistent performance and unique swagger that makes him stand out; it truly cemented him among the leagues elite.  His performances were the reason that his team sits at 6th in the West and will most likely stay there going into the playoffs.

Even if the record is broken and Westbrook is named the league MVP the journey still isn’t over.  Most likely the Thunder will have a bout with the Houston Rockets in the first round.  The Thunder endured a lot of drama with Kevin Durant this off season, but with a player like this on the squad the sky is always the limit. Russ isn’t trying to only be the MVP or hold the NBA’s most triple doubles in a season all time; he wants to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy.  He’s one of the most competitive players in the league, every thing he does on the court is to try and win a championship.

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NBA All Stars: Who should the starters be?

The NBA All star voting concluded on Monday leaving some people with questions as to how legitimate the voting system has become in the NBA. Golden State Warriors Center Zaza Pachulia has racked up enough votes to possibly become the Western Conference stater at the 5 position. Over 21 million votes have been cast in this years voting, which is a 142% increase from last years game. The starters are determined by voting that is combined from the fans (50%), players (25%), and the media (25%). The starters for the All Star game will be chosen tonight on TNT on a special edition of NBA tip off. We pick who SHOULD start the game.

Eastern conference:

Guards:

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Kyrie Irving

Irving is averaging 23.6 points per game along with 5.6 assists. During the season, Irving has put Lebron in the backseat for some clutch moments including the dagger on Christmas day against Golden State. One of the best young players in the game, Irving is the best point guard in the Eastern Conference.

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Isaiah Thomas

Thomas is averaging 28.7 points per game combined with 6 assists. This season, Isaiah has put the team on his back which has garnered him the nickname “King of the Fourth”. Thomas has taken over games time and time again averaging the most points in the 4th quarter in the NBA.

Frontcourt:

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Lebron James

James is obviously a shoe in to be an all star because he is the BEST player in the league, no questions asked. James is averaging 25.6 points, 8.1 assist, and 7.8 rebounds per game. James can do anything on a basketball court, he has great court vision and superior athletic ability making him the most dangerous player in the game.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo

The Greek Freak jumped onto the scene last year with some impressive highlights, but this season he has really turned into a fantastic player. Giannis is averaging 23.7 points, 5.6 assists, and 8.7 rebounds per game. He has shown is freakish athleticism time and time again this year with highlight reel dunks. The 22 year old has a very bright future.

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Joel Embiid

Embiid is the first draft pick to somewhat look like he is going to pan out like they planned. Embiid is leading the Sixers, averaging 19.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game. “The Process” is dominating the game down low.

Western Conference:

Guards:

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James Harden

Harden is my favorite for MVP right now. He’s taken an average Rockets team and made them one of the best teams in the league. Harden is averaging 28.9 points, 11.6 assists, and 8.3 rebounds per game. The former backup to Russell Westbrook has moved past him for best point guard in the Western Conference. Harden controls the game and limits his turnovers making everyone around him better.

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Russell Westbrook

There are really no words to explain what Russell Westbrook is doing to the league this year. Although his turnover numbers could be much better, you can’t ignore his stats, 30.6 points, 10.4 assists, and 10.6 rebounds per game. Averaging a triple double has been damn near impossible in the NBA. But if he continues down this road, it could go down as one of the best statistical season ever.

Frontcourt:

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Kevin Durant

Durant has received a lot of hate for he offseason move to the Warriors. It has not gone as well as some people imagined, but Durant’s play has been consistent as he had a 40 point outburst last night against his former team in the Oracle. On a team with a ton of scorers, Durant is still averaging 26.7 points per game on top of 4.7 assists and 8.6 rebounds.

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Kawhi Leonard

Arguably one of the most underrated players in the NBA, Kawhi Leonard has become THE guy in San Antonio. He is the complete package, an excellent defender, paired with ability to score at will. Leonard has become a top tier player in the West. His stats aren’t indicative of how important he is to the team, with 24.8 points, 3.1 assists, and 5.7 rebounds per game.

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Anthony Davis

Davis is a premier player in the NBA. He is the best center in the NBA and is carrying an awful team down in New Orleans. Davis is averaging 28.8 points, 12.1 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game. If you could start your franchise with one player, this guy has to be close to the top of the list because he is a fantastic talent in the NBA.

Tune in to NBA Tip off on TNT tonight to see which players receive the honor of starting in this year’s All Star game.

 

Fan Interference NBA First Quarter Awards

The NBA season is just a little over a quarter of the way through, and even though it isn’t much of a sample size, we’ve seen some great performances. Russell Westbrook has been a one-man wrecking crew, the Warriors are beginning to settle in nicely, and the Cavaliers are atop the Eastern Conference. This is pretty much how we would’ve drawn it up at the beginning of the season, but that’s not to say there haven’t been a few surprises. I highly doubt any of these recipients would be pumped to hear they’ve won a quarter season award, but we’re gonna give it to them anyway. So, don’t get too excited yet, but here’s our 2016 NBA First Quarter Awards.

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MVP: Russell Westbrook

As of tonight, Westbrook is the uncontested NBA MVP. If the MVP truly stands for “most valuable player,” there should be no argument. If you pull him from the Thunder, they are tanking for the number one pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Westbrook is leading the league in scoring, and he’s averaging 30.9 PPG. These numbers are historic, and the only thing stopping me from bowing down and worshipping his game is the fact that we’re only a quarter of the way through. If he is somehow able to keep this up all season, we’re talking about one of the greatest single seasons in NBA history. Plus, the old guys who vote for this stuff will love that he didn’t ditch OKC and that he’s doing it on his own.

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Hottest Game

It all started off as a normal game against the Indiana Pacers for Klay Thompson and the Golden State Warriors. Klay was hot right out of the gate, pouring in 40 points before halftime. This wasn’t anything ridiculously out of the ordinary, but it was already one of the best night of Thompson’s career. He followed it up by sliding in another 20 in the third quarter, before sitting the entire fourth quarter with a whopping 60 points. Of course, this led everyone to wonder what might’ve happened if Klay actually played the fourth quarter, but regardless, it stands alone as the best game anyone has played this season.

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Hottest Quarter

C’mon. This is the NBA First Quarter Awards, so we’d be sorely mistaken if we didn’t give an award for something that somebody did in the first quarter.  In this case, that man is Kevin Love. If you could combine Love’s 34 first quarter points (yes, you read that right) vs. the Portland Trail Blazers with Klay Thompson’s three quarters of excellence, you’d have yourself a 94 point game. Not too shabby, considering the 76ers can’t even do that as an entire team on most nights.

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Rookie of the Year

Joel Embiid

As of now, Joel Embiid has already established himself as perhaps the best player on the Philadelphia 76ers. He is a beast defensively, drives to the basket with ease, and has one of the funniest Instagram accounts in the NBA (not that this makes him any more qualified to be rookie of the year, but you should definitely check it out). Perhaps the craziest thing about Embiid’s 17.5 PPG, 7.3 RPG and 2.5 BLK is that he’s doing it all on a minutes restriction. Hopefully for the Sixers, Embiid can stay healthy. If they are to have any future of success, the big man certainly looks to be a focal point of it.

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Comeback Player of the Year

Anthony Davis

I know what you’re going to say. How can Anthony Davis get comeback player of the year when he averaged 24.3 PPG last season? Well, Davis missed a large chunk of last season because he needed surgery on his left knee, and he’s missed at least fourteen games in each of his first four seasons. If Davis is somehow able to keep up at his torrent pace of 29.6 PPG and stay healthy, he would be fully deserving of the award.

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When it comes to other awards like Team of the Year, the season just hasn’t progressed enough for anyone to stand out. The Warriors are pretty much where we thought they’d be, same with the Spurs, Cavs and Raptors. Maybe we will be able to give them our prestigious awards at the midseason mark. As the season develops, some of these guys will fall off, but some of them just might win an actual award at the end of the year. For those who don’t, it’s ok. You were a winner in the Fan Interference NBA First Quarter Awards. Don’t spend it all in one place, kids.

The Russ Stops Here: Fallout From the Westbrook Decision

Last week, Russell Westbrook chose to resign with the Oklahoma City Thunder. In doing this, Westbrook did what few superstars have done in his generation; he showed patience. The deal, which weighs in at just over $85 million, locks Westbrook in until at least the end of the 2017-18 season. While it’s not the long-term deal many Thunder fans would be more comfortable with, it offers the organization some reassurance that Westbrook isn’t going anywhere. Additionally, it ends weeks of rampant speculation that Westbrook was considering other teams, and allows us all to slow down for a minute and stop daydreaming about potential trades that would bring him anywhere from the Celtics to the Nuggets (seriously. The Nuggets were even in it. You can’t make this stuff up). Instead, we can perform a post-contract autopsy and examine exactly how this affects the balance of the NBA.

With Westbrook resigning with Oklahoma City, we now have a bit more clarity on how things will look in the Western Conference. Obviously, it’s hard to make an argument against the Warriors, no matter how hard a revenge-fueled Westbrook will try to change that narrative. Golden State, however, is in a rare territory. There’s almost no way to preview how they will play, because we’ve never even seen an NBA roster of this magnitude. Sure, the Heat had LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, but even that is small potatoes compared to this Warriors squad. The only hope for the rest of the West is an epic collapse, or an unfortunate injury. That being said, there is a part of me that can see things derailing for Golden State. Is there such a thing as too much talent? When you can only play five guys at once and only one person can score each possession, that might be a valid question. Does it become ineffective to use that much firepower? That remains to be seen.

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Westbrook will certainly come out guns-blazing against Golden State, and the Oklahoma City Thunder as a whole could be poised to have a better season than most would think. If you’re Thunder GM Sam Presti, you feel as though you’ve dodged a bullet. Instead of losing two star players in one offseason, you lose one and have two seasons to figure out what you want to do going forward. This coming season, we will learn a lot about Russell Westbrook both as a player and a leader. Many people are calling him the early favorite for MVP, but only time will tell. With the emergence of Steven Adams in the postseason and the newly acquired Victor Oladipo, Westbrook still has a respectable squad around him. It’s no title contender, but it’s also no group of misfits. Should the Thunder finish well in the Western Conference and pull together a playoff run, that would do wonders for them in acquiring free agents for the 2017-18 season. Blake Griffin is an early candidate, but this is all very far down the road. One thing, however, is sure about next season; Russell Westbrook is about to give the entire NBA a giant middle finger.

Shamrock Shakeup: Celtics Hunt For Major Trade

If you believed every trade rumor you heard, you would think the Boston Celtics were the basketball equivalent of The Avengers.

The Celtics have been linked to almost every major free agent this offseason, and Danny Ainge has been making more phone calls than a creepy drunk ex-boyfriend. Beginning with Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, and the successful courting of Al Horford, Ainge has now reportedly moved on to two new potential signees: Russell Westbrook and Blake Griffin.
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So, why are we all of a sudden seeing so many players linked to the Celtics? The first part of that is an aggressive free agent strategy. Ainge realizes that the Celtics are one or two players away from becoming worthy adversaries to the Cavaliers, so he has been recruiting like we’ve never quite seen before. This hard work is what allowed the Celtics to sign Al Horford, a move that escalated them into a new tier of NBA teams. Rather than viewing the Celtics as a team that will tread water in the Eastern Conference, a.k.a every team besides Cleveland, players now view it as a favorable situation with an organization that has perhaps the richest history in all of the NBA. Horford was the first domino to fall, now the question is if he made enough of a shockwave for others to fall as well.

The chances of Westbrook leaving Oklahoma City this off-season are slim, but even the mere possibility of a player of his caliber leaving for another city is headline news. Additionally, given the crazy moves we’ve seen so far this off-season, nothing, and I mean nothing, can be ruled out. It has been rumored time and time again that Los Angeles is Westbrook’s premier landing spot, but a lot of this was reported before the Celtics suddenly became such an attractive destination. Also, thanks to some mild stalking by SB Nation and other media outlets, it was confirmed that Westbrook, Ainge, and Isaiah Thomas were all in San Diego at the same time. Something tells me they weren’t all there to see a Padres game.

While Westbrook is a reach as far as 2016-17 is concerned, the Celtics are set up to be major players in the Westbrook free-agency scramble next off-season. If Ainge has his sights set on getting the best player available, that might be the best move here. Westbrook doesn’t necessarily fit into Brad Stevens’ offense as well as other potential recruits do, but he is by far the most talented.

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The other major player the Celtics are reportedly targeting, Blake Griffin, is perhaps even more intriguing. Though he is not the prolific offensive threat that Westbrook is, Griffin compliments what the Celtics are trying to do much better. Horford is a great shooter, so that allows Griffin to do his thing in the paint, an area that has been his wheelhouse thus far in his pro career. Recent incidents aside, (hang in there, Celtics equipment managers), Griffin would have great chemistry in Boston. There wouldn’t be any particular player that is viewed as “the guy”, whereas with Westbrook it would be his show.

Finally, there is one more rumor that must be included in the realm of possibility. Ainge said he plans to make a big move, so if all else fails, Jahlil Okafor may be fair game. It might not be the first choice for the Celtics, but it certainly would be a big move. Nerlins Noel has also been floated as a possibility, but that would hardly be seen as a big move. Okafor, though he may not have blown anyone away in his rookie season, still has enormous star potential and with a roster that includes Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor, Nerlins Noel and Ben Simmons, it just seems like someone has to be the odd man out there.

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Warriors, Thunder Set to Clash in Colossal Game 7

After taking a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Finals, it seemed all but guaranteed that the Oklahoma City Thunder would advance to the NBA Finals. The Warriors were failing horribly against the dynamic duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and it appeared as though the Thunder finally had the team they envisioned after trading away James Harden a few seasons prior.

Then, the Warriors got to work.

There was a sense of desperation for Golden State heading into Game 5, an emotion that likely hasn’t been felt by the 73-win squad in a long time. Warrior’s coach Steve Kerr wanted to get the energy in Oracle Arena pumping early, encouraging fans to come early and make plenty of noise. The Warriors were hot most of the game, and though the Thunder were able to grab a lead after a Westbrook 3-pointer with 6:06 remaining in the third quarter, Golden State was able to roar back for a decisive 120-111 victory.

For the Thunder, Game 6 was supposed to be their time to shine. They could afford to drop a game in Oakland, but coming back home, they were supposed to seal the deal. Things looked good for the Thunder throughout much of the game; they outscored the Warriors in the first three quarters and went into the fourth with an 83-75 lead. The finish line was right in front of them, and they tripped over their own feet. Actually, saying they tripped over their feet doesn’t do justice to the gravity of the situation. They were 15 minutes and an 8-point lead away from a ticket to the NBA Finals, playing in front of their home crowd, and they absolutely imploded. It’s a shame nobody in the audience knew how to perform the Heimlich maneuver, because the Thunder, specifically Russell Westbrook, were putting on an absolute choke job. Klay Thompson scored more points (19) than the entire Thunder roster (18) in the fourth quarter.

So, after a game like that, what are we in for tonight? Well, the general consensus is that it will be a closely contested game that will be replayed on NBA Hardwood Classics for years to come. It’s Memorial Day, everyone will be watching, and there is huge names on both teams. It has all the makings of an instant classic, but for some reason, I’m not so sure about that. The Warriors have only lost twice at home all season, and in a game like this with so much on the line, it’s very hard to see them faltering.

Obviously, the Thunder have proven that they are capable of beating the Warriors on their home floor, but this game is a whole new animal. Game 1 was the beginning of a feeling-out process. The Thunder didn’t carry much pressure at all going into that game, and that attitude carried all the way through to their 3-1 lead in the series. After losing game 5, they at least had a home game to look forward to, but now, there is no room for error.

It’s easy to make a statistical argument for why the Thunder could win this game. The combination of Durant and Westbrook certainly has the potential to outscore Curry and Thompson, and if Steven Adams can grab anywhere around his usual 10 rebounds, they could be in decent shape. That being said, when I say there is no room for error for the Thunder, there is literally no room. At all. If Curry gets hot and gets the crowd going, good luck. Once they get a double-digit lead, they become an invincible machine with no off-switch. Perhaps the scariest thing for the Thunder, however, is that Klay Thompson is just as equally capable of going on a hot streak from downtown as Curry; the Thunder learned that the hard way Saturday night. The only way the Thunder win this game is if they get off to a hot start and never look back. Chances of that are slim, however, and I’m only giving them an outside shot at winning this game. The way in which they lost the previous two games does not bode well for them playing on the road, and I expect the Warriors to pounce.

PREDICTION:

Warriors: 115

Thunder: 109

 

Curry 32, Thompson 27

Durant 25, Westbrook 34.

Westbrook will be fueled by his mistakes in the final minutes of Game 6, but the supporting cast around him and Durant won’t be able to produce. Adams and Ibaka will both finish with 8-10 points, and the rest of the team will fail to reach double digits.

Should Steph Curry Really Be The MVP?

Wednesday night, the Warriors will look to make history against the Memphis Grizzlies. With a win, they will become the first team to ever win 73 games in a season, surpassing the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls’ 72 wins led by Michael Jordan. This is by far the biggest story of the regular season this year, but I’d like to focus on something else. The reigning MVP, Steph Curry, is likely to repeat his status as most valuable player this season, becoming the tenth player in NBA history to win back-to-back MVP awards. While the decision may be close to unanimous, I think there’s someone else more suited for this year’s most prestigious seasonal award.

Steph Curry has a league leading 29.9 points per game, a full point per game higher than the second best in the league. He’s also tied with three other players for most steals per game with 2.1. Curry cracks the top ten in the NBA in assists per game as well. So with numbers like these why wouldn’t Steph win his second MVP award? It’s because there’s another Western Conference point guard that is more deserving of the privilege. That’s right, not only do I not think Steph Curry was the best player in the NBA this year, I don’t even think he was the best at his position.

Russell Westbrook is more deserving to win the MVP with the season he’s had than anyone else in the NBA. Westbrook averaged 23.5 PPG, which is impressive when you look at the fact that his teammate, Kevin Durant, averaged 28.2 PPG, the third most in the league. Even with a teammate putting up the bulk of the team’s scoring, Westbrook still finds a way to score the ninth most points in the league. Westbrook also averages 7.8 rebounds per game, which makes him the only guard in the NBA to crack the top 50 in the NBA in rebounding. Curry averages only 5.5 rebounds. But that’s not all. Westbrook is second in assists per game, averaging double digits with 10.4 ASP. Curry averages 6.7 assists, which doesn’t even lead his team. When it comes to steals, Westbrook only trails by 0.1 per game, placing him just behind Steph and the three other league leaders in that category.

There’s no denying Steph Curry’s greatness. I believe he was well deserving of the MVP award last season, and there is certainly a case for him this season. With that being said, I just think Westbrook is a much more well-rounded player. He is in the top ten for scoring, assists, and steals, while grabbing the most boards out of any guard in the league. Not only that, he is also a triple-double machine. He has 18 triple-doubles on the year, tying him for the most in NBA history in a single season. He shares that feat with Magic Johnson, and any time you can be in the same category as Magic, you are doing something pretty special.

Westbrook’s athleticism is far superior to Curry’s as well. Though that doesn’t necessarily tell the story of an MVP, it’s hard not to notice. Pound for pound, Westbrook is on the same level as LeBron James when it comes to being a freak athlete. His combination of size in speed makes him a nightmare for defenders in the half court offense and the fast break. His ability to grab a rebound and take it coast to coast for a monster dunk is unlike any point guard I’ve ever seen. Though it probably shouldn’t be a factor, that kind of excitement could get some votes from basketball writers for the MVP award.

That’s not to say Curry isn’t an exciting player to watch. In fact, most people will argue he’s the most exciting player in the NBA right now. His ability to hit a three from 35 feet out is the best in NBA history. He can shoot off the dribble and with a hand in his face, and at times it seems like nothing the opposing team does is enough to stop him. But you also need to look at the teams they play for. Steph is playing for possibly the best team in NBA history. Klay Thompson is one of the best shooters in the NBA and Draymond Green has emerged as a superstar this season. They also have depth not only in their starting five, but also on the bench. Last year’s Finals MVP, Andre Iguodala, is a bench player for Golden State. Again, the former Finals MVP comes off the bench for Golden State.

But I know what you’re thinking. Russell Westbrook plays with Kevin Durant, a former NBA MVP. Well that’s what I feel makes Westbrook even more impressive. He isn’t the go-to scoring option for the Thunder, but yet he still finds a way to score over 23 points per game. And he’s still able to dish out more than ten dimes a game, while putting up rebound numbers unheard of for point guards since the Magic days. And after Durant, the Oklahoma City Thunder don’t have nearly as much depth as the Warriors. Their next leading scorer after Durant and Westbrook is Serge Ibaka, who scores 12.6 PPG. This is down from his previous three seasons, while his rebound and block totals are also down for the once promising big man. The Thunder are nowhere near a bad team, sitting at third in the Western Conference with a record of 55-26, but they just don’t have the overall talent that the Golden State Warriors do.

As I mentioned before, Westbrook is the complete package of size and speed. This makes him more of a threat to opposing offenses than most point guards. He can keep opposing point guards in front of him that like to drive to the rim, while also having the speed to get out and contest shooting point guards. Curry on the other hand, does not have these abilities. He is much weaker than the average NBA player, and while he is quick, when it comes to shear speed, he is not as fast as other point guards around the league. As the old saying goes, defense wins championships, and Westbrook has a much better defensive game than Curry. Sure, Curry has emerged as the most popular player in the NBA, but writers should not think like fans do. They need to be more objective and look at who truly was the most valuable player in the NBA after taking all aspects of the game into account. After doing just that, I think Westbrook needs to be given more consideration for MVP than he has been.