It is almost a no-brainer to give the Most Valuable Player trophy to the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook, who at 28 years old is averaging a triple-double this season. After the loss of Kevin Durant in the offseason, Westbrook took charge and placed the team on his back from the first game of the 2016-2017 NBA season. When Durant was on the team last season, Westbrook only had 18 triple-doubles all year. At times, Westbrook has not only been the day’s leading scorer around the league, but rebounder as well, beating out the likes of Anthony Davis and Hassan Whiteside — two players averaging over 11 rebounds a game — on some nights.
Averaging 31.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game (as of April 4), Westbrook has had everyone glued to their screens every time the Thunder are playing. And on April 4, Westbrook logged his NBA-record-tying 41 triple-double of the season, a first since Oscar Robertson did it during the 1961-62 season. With four games left, Westbrook has the opportunity to break that record before the season ends. Considering that Westbrook has had a triple double against almost every team in the NBA, it is almost certain that he will place himself in the record books by the end of the season.
Despite not having a big-name teammate in the backcourt like the Washington Wizards’ John Wall and Bradley Beal, or the Houston Rockets’ James Harden and Eric Gordon, Westbrook has been able to use what he has to his advantage. With the likes of Victor Oladipo, the team’s second highest scorer at 16.2 points per game, and center Steven Adams’ 7.6 rebounds per game (second behind Westbrook), Westbrook gave opposing teams an example of how good the team really is when he doesn’t have the ball in his hands by allowing other players with less talent to flourish. These players are able to play to the best of their abilities even as Westbrook dominates the ball, and it shows both statistically and on the court, as the Thunder are far exceeding the expectations set for them based on their talent alone.
As the regular season came to a close, we saw a number of playoff teams resting their best players to limit the risk of injuries. While Westbrook and Harden have played in every game this season at time of writing. But who knows when we’ll ever see a player average a triple-double again? That alone should guarantee an MVP for anyone. Right? The guy did have a 57-point triple double, and has an NBA season-high 22 assist game this season. Westbrook’s case is undeniable.