As the calendar turns to April, the NBA regular season has reached its final month, and with it still remains a list of question.
However, one question seems to stand above the rest: which NBA superstar deserves this year’s MVP award?
While opinions vary greatly on who most deserves the award, the list has been narrowed down to three main contenders: Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Kawhi Leonard.
Simply put, Westbrook is putting up historically great number. He is the first player since Oscar Robertson (1962) to average a triple-double for an entire season. Westbrook is also on pace to break Robertson’s single season record of 41 triple-doubles.
Westbrook is not only averaging ridiculous number, he is also producing when Oklahoma City needs him the most.
Oklahoma city has the second-highest clutch time performance( defined as any game within five points, with under two minutes left in the fourth) net-rating (average of points scored versus points given up) in the entire NBA.
While this stat does not usually reflect one player’s performance, with Westbrook controlling the ball on over 40-percent of the Thunders’ possessions, it is a direct reflection of Westbrook’s performance.
However, Westbrook is not a player without flaws. He leads the NBA in turnovers (on pace to set the single-season turnover record), and Oklahoma City has the worst record of the teams that boast an MVP contender.
As impressive as Westbrook’s season has been, an argument could be made that Harden’s season is even more impressive.
Harden is just two rebounds a game short of averaging a triple-double himself. Unlike Westbrook, Harden is averaging those numbers at a much more efficient clip; Harden is shooting a higher percentage from the field and turning the ball over less.
Furthermore, Harden has Houston’s offense humming at a historic offensive clip. Outside of Golden State’s 2016 and 2017 season, this Houston team has the highest offensive rating in NBA history.
On the other hand, while Westbrook is less efficient overall, his numbers are much better in the clutch than Harden’s.
Only Kawhi Leonard’s team, the San Antonio Spurs, can claim a better clutch rating than Westbrook’s Thunder.
Leonard not only produces offensively when it matters, he also anchors the Spur’s league leading defense.
Overall, Leonard’s offensive impact is much less than Westbrook and Harden’s, but his overall play (often touted as the league’s best two-way player) has kept the Spurs firmly cemented as the NBA’s second best team.
When the NBA regular season comes to an end on April 14, voters will have a near impossible decision to make regarding the league’s MVP.