Thursday Bolts – 3.9.17
Tom Scocca of Deadspin: “Player A is Leonard, San Antonio’s do-everything hero,
whose comprehensive, balanced excellence excited the basketblogging world over the weekend. But look at Player B: a bit less of a scorer, but much more of an all-around force. His numbers for the year are unquestionably ahead of Leonard’s. You could make a case that this is a true MVP-caliber performance. Player B is Russell Westbrook if he put up a 0 – 0 – 0 the rest of the way.”
Brett Dawson: “The strongest argument is statistical. Westbrook remains on pace to become the first NBA player to average double-figure points, rebounds and assists in a season since Oscar Robertson in 1961-62. And he leads the league in scoring. Dig deeper and you’ll see that the Thunder allows 10.9 more points per 100 possessions than it scores when Westbrook is off the floor. No other top candidate’s team suffers so much when its star is on the bench.”
Albert Burneko of Deadspin: “The thing is, everybody already knows this. None of the people now saying Russell Westbrook (or Harden, whose MVP case would be rock-solid if not for Westbrook simply doing a lot more every night) doesn’t play enough defense to be MVP would dispute that Magic Johnson is one of the handful of greatest players in NBA history—but Magic was a famously indifferent defender who only came alive at that end of the floor when he saw an opportunity to dart into a passing lane and spark a fast-break. It didn’t matter, either to lasting perceptions of his value as a player or to his team’s fortunes when it relied upon him. When a basketball player can score and rebound and create a ton of easy baskets for others, he doesn’t need to play much defense.”
Russ’s MVP opportunity is ahead of him.
Erik Horne: “Thunder coach Billy Donovan vouched for Westbrook’s shot volume and selection Tuesday night as the MVP candidate scored a career-high 58 points and shot over 50 percent in the 126-121 loss. In the process, Westbrook almost had as many shots as the entire team (46), and 15 more than the rest of the starting lineup. The Thunder’s defense was the real issue, as it has been since the All-Star break. Yet, when asked if there’s a correlation between players staying engaged on defense and getting touches on offense, Donovan said he’d have to be in the players’ shoes to know for sure.”
Colin Cowherd: “Where is Russell Westbrook’s [plus-minus]? 45th. If you name Westbrook the MVP, here’s what you would be saying. We just gave the MVP to a point guard who shoots 42 percent, leads the NBA in turnovers, on a team with the 11th-best record in the league. Does that sound like it makes sense? ‘But Colin, triple-double, triple-double!’ Yeah, eh, okay. By the way, forget the fact that LeBron shot 50 percent from the floor, 30, 17 and six last night, here’s what’s interesting. We’re talking about catchy slogans. And I know everybody likes catchy slogans, but let me ask you this. Is there a catchy slogan for six straight NBA Finals? … Is there a catchy slogan for ‘Best player in the world for 13 years’? I’m just wondering if there’s a catchy slogan for that.”