By Lamar Battle,
Note to all the purist out there, Lebron James will not be considered in what I believe is a two player race.
Like Micheal Jordan before him there is a school of thought suggesting that Cleveland’s James could win the award every year. However the contest takes into consideration the player most valuable to his particular team and not necessarily the best player in the league.
Who are they?
James Harden, Houston Rockets:
Already the best shooting guard in the league Harden has exploded under new coach Mike D’Antoni who installed a system that utilizes Harden’s natural abilities to the fullest.
Playing the point guard position Harden has powered the Rockets to 3rd best record in the NBA’s formidable Western Conference.
Harden averages 29.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg and a league leading 11.0 apg.
Those numbers combined with ten triple doubles and a recent victory where Harden out dueled Cleveland’s LeBron James make him the odds on favorite to win the award.
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder:
How can one vote against a man on the verge of breaking the supposed unbreakable record held by NBA demi-god Oscar Robertson who averaged a triple double ( double figures in any statistical category, in this case; points,rebounds and assist.) for an entire NBA season?
Westbrook is within eight more triple doubles of surpassing a record (41) that no one has even come close to, up to now.
His season averages up to this point are 31.7 ppg, 10.7 rpg and 10.4 apg.
The Thunder, ( currently 6th place in the Western Conference ) came within one game of beating the Golden State Warriors (winners themselves of 73 games ) in last seasons playoffs.
Since that time Thunder star Kevin Durant left the Thunder to join the Warriors for this season and more or less left the Thunder in the hands of Westbrook who re-signed with the team.
The Verdict ?
James Harden headlines a team matched perfectly to his skill set, they run, spread the floor and shoot three point shots.
Harden is masterful as the maestro who orchestrates every thing including the odds of this team upsetting the entire apple cart and winning this seasons championship.
Russell Westbrook is UN-relenting in aggression and intensity.
He astounds even casual observers who marvel at his fearlessness and refusal to take even a play off, let alone a game.
So who wins?
James Harden seems to at this point have a slight edge according to most observers but I would like to employ what I would like to call the (Hoiberg Metric).
Allow Chicago Bulls head basketball coach Fred Hoiberg (nothing personal) to coach the Rockets for a few games and then the Thunder for the same.
The player still thriving at the end of this episode would be the one truly able to adapt to any program and your 2016-17 NBA MVP. (See Photo)
Photo by Layne Murdock / Getty Images.