Robertson endorses Westbrook for MVP

Of course it's James Harden vs. Russell Westbrook. But as tight as this race has been, there should only be one victor and that's Westbrook. They seem to win 60-plus games a year, regardless of who the best player or players on the roster are that season. "I just want to win". It's not that simple. Each and every night he does something remarkable, and it's great that he'll get to be on a national stage in the playoffs. Over the past three seasons, Harden has led the National Basketball Association in minutes played.

Just don't be fooled: they are not the NBA's best player.

All but one - the Raptors in 2007 - shot worse from behind the 3-point line in the playoffs than in the regular season as well.

Specifically compared to Westbrook, there's an argument to be made that because of the inferior competition in the East, James has a bit of an unfair advantage.

The Thunder lost to Denver Wednesday night to end the season, and Westbrook saw minimal time in both games. In others, it was a major factor. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin have dealt with nagging injuries throughout the season but will look to shoulder the weight for the Clippers in the playoffs.

What also makes this unfamiliar territory in MVP head-to-heads is the fact that one team, on paper at least, is so much stronger than the other. With sports like baseball, where you play so many games and it is hard to make your teammates better, giving the MVP to someone excellent on a lousy team, like Mike Trout on the Angels, is understandable.

Kawhi Leonard drives past Russell Westbrook on May 12, 2016.

Leonard also best fits the historical criteria for MVP. But they have a good coach and an underrated supporting cast, one that will make Houston risky in the playoffs. The problem is, while history is on his side, it's also on Westbrook's side. The Beard also is the first player in National Basketball Association history to record 2,000 points, 900 assists and 600 rebounds in a single season. However, in that season Robertson did not win the MVP award. Harden had the NBA's most assists per game with 11.2 and Westbrook finished third with 10.4 assists per game.

"I think Russell is the catalyst", Rockets guard Lou Williams said. The Thunder have two players in their starting lineup - Andre Roberson and Domantas Sabonis - who average less than seven points per game.

The Nuggets put up very little resistance early against the Thunder's first team. If you remove him from this lineup, Oklahoma would be a lottery team.

Make no mistake, Abrines was hyper aware of the record coming into the game. And while it was Harden leading the charge, as he said, there was help.

With the regular season over, it's time to review the top candidates for each individual award and reveal our picks for Coach of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Most Improved Player, Sixth Man of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and MVP.

The key difference is that Harden has a much more capable supporting cast ready on the perimeter awaiting the multiple open looks he's inevitably going to serve up. But we do know that the Spurs are a whole 10 points better per 100 possessions with him on the floor than with him on the bench. Houston led by nine points going into the final period and led by 13 before OKC clawed back to get within two points a couple off times late.

Is that enough nerd talk for you? I don't know how you decide. It's likely you didn't, and that's another feather in Westbrook's cap. "Thirty-five, 34, 36 minutes, somewhere in that range we felt like was a really good number, just based on the medical staff looking back on his career". What people are interested in is historic accomplishment.

  • Julie Sanders