‘Obsession is the single most wasteful human activity, because with an obsession you keep coming back and back and back to the same question and never get an answer.‘*
Who do you think will win the 2016/17 NBA Most Valuable Player Award?
Well, that’s simple. It has to be Russell Westbrook. The guy just managed the first season average triple-double since, Oscar Robertson, in 1961/62.** In fact, he’s the ONLY other person to do that. And a 31.6/10.7/10.4 triple double at that.
Of course, I wouldn’t begrudge you make the case for Harden. I mean, he did break another Big O record – the first +29/8/11 stat-line since 1964/65, and became the first ever NBA player to register 2000 points, 900 assists and 600 rebounds in a single regular season.
But triple-double, c’mon!
This isn’t to take anything away from The Beard™. The Rocket’s talisman improved their record from 41-41 in the previous season to 55-27, a return to former glory not seen since… well, Westbrook in the same season. After the proverbial leash that was Kevin Durant decided to loosen himself, leaving Russell high and dry, it was inevitable that he would go on a tear. However, the extent to which he accumulated crazy box score after crazy box score and clutch point after clutch point, exceeded the highest of expectations. Brodie™ didn’t just have his cupcake and ate it, but went for seconds, thirds, thought to hell with it and finished the damn box.***
To be fair to Harden, he was hardly frugal with the amount of times he dined on the opposition. First player to record a +50/15/15 stat-line with 50/17/16; one of two players to record a 53 point triple-double with that triple-double; first player to achieve multiple 50 point triple-doubles in a single NBA season with a 51/13/13 against the Philadelphia 76ers in January 2017.**** And his win share score is 1.9 points better than Westbrook’s (15). And his field goal % (44), 3 point field goal % (34.7) and free-throw % (84.7) all beat his adversary.
Wait a minute.
Westbrook did accumulate the highest points ever in a triple-double with 57, and broke the record for triple-doubles in a single season with 42 (another Big O record). But Harden became only the fourth player in NBA history to achieve a 40/10/10 stat-line in consecutive games. Westbrook was one of the other three guys, but that’s beside the point. Or is it? He did the same thing this season, part of a 4 game triple-double stretch in which he averaged 34.75/13.5/12.5, which would be impressive except that he became the only player in NBA history to have a seven game triple-double stretch, twice, in the same season, but then now I think about it, Harden had more 20 point (29) and 30 point (28) games than Westbrook, but then Westbrook had more 40 point (14) and 50 point (4) games than Harden; OK well let’s look at advanced metrics, Westbrook’s player efficiency rating (30.70) is better, but then Harden’s scoring (1.537) and shooting (.525) efficiency rating are both higher; steals per turnovers? That’s Westbrook’s (0.30); assists per turnovers? That’s Harden’s (1.95); Westbrook’s team finished 6th but the usage percentage (41.7) suggests that he was asked to do more but then again you can’t exactly hold that against Harden because the usage percentage (34.2) suggests he ran his offence more effectively but if you look at the statistical efficiency per 100 possessions Westbrook had a higher defensive rating (104) but then again Harden had a higher offensive rating (118) so when you compare that to the value over replacement player rat-
Sorry, what was the question again?*****
*American novelist Norman Malier’s words of wisdom.
**Oscar Robertson (known as ‘The Big O’) averaged 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists in the 1961/62. The record had been thought to be unbreakable, until this season.
***Congratulations to the Oklahoma faithful – you’ve won the award for Pettiest Insult Directed at a Former Player. Remember guys, pictures last a lifetime; memes last forever. Take a look.
****Harden is tied with Wilt Chamberlain for this particular record. Wilt managed 53/32/14. Absolutely absurd.
*****We have two months left of this. 😦
[Image provided courtesy of GQ; statistics provided courtesy of Basketball Reference, ESPN, NBA Miner, Wikipedia and the Denver Post. My head hurts.]