This MVP race is undoubtedly one of the best in history.  We have four main candidates, and seven other guys that even make 5th place an interesting race.  What makes it even better is how truly angry fans are getting about it.  Rockets and Thunder fans are both at the point where if their guy doesn’t win, then they will be done with the “rigged” NBA.  I’ve seen many writers MVP votes, including Steve Kyler, who actually has a vote.  He is definitely overthinking DPOY and ROY but as far as MVP goes, he’s pretty sound.  The common fan’s MVP will be Westbrook.  It’s as simple as that. Houston fans will cry for Harden, and San Antonio fans will cry for Kawhi.  Writer’s will probably be Harden and Kawhi (overthinking) guys, and the few NBA purists will go for Lebron.  I love all four guys, and they’ve all had MVP years, but there can only be one.  I do think that the race will be close between Harden and Westbrook, and Harden might even win.  What I’m wondering is how the common man will react to that.  To find out, I need to see the Top 5 list for the common NBA fan.  Therefor, I’ve asked some friends of mine that follow the NBA who is in their top 5.  This also helps to see who is #5, whether is be Wall, Isaiah, Giannis, Rudy, KD, Steph, or Jimmy.  I’ll show a picture of who they are, so you can see what you’re looking at, and what team they are affiliated with.  In the end I’ll tally up the vote, including my own, with a 1-5 points system and see who the common NBA fan’s Top 5 are.

Cullen Hawkins – Boston Celtics fan

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  1. Russell Westbrook
  2. James Harden
  3. Kawhi Leonard
  4. Lebron James
  5. Isaiah Thomas

A lot of people on Twitter have asked the question, “Would you still vote for Russell if he averaged one less rebound a game?” My answer: Yes.  That’s what did it for me.  In my opinion, he means so much more to his team than Harden does. His on-off rating is +12.6! Harden’s is +1.5. He’s a better defender than Harden.  He’s far more clutch than Harden, and he’s averaging 45-15-15 per 100 possessions.  He is the MVP.  Don’t overthink it, world.

Kawhi vs Lebron is the next great battle. On one hand, Kawhi isn’t as great of a defender as we’re used to seeing him be, but his team did win 60+ games. Lebron’s team won 50+ games. The thought process is this: When Kawhi doesn’t play, the Spurs still have a great system. When Lebron doesn’t play, the Cavs turn into a lottery team.  This is what most people will think, and could have them leaning towards Lebron. It’s wrong. Kawhi is leading his team flat out. Duncan is gone, Aldridge is declining, Parker is a liability. Kawhi is putting up numbers offensively and he’s doing it efficiently. His on-off numbers won’t take you off your feet, but he’s at .267 WS per 48, +9.1 On court rating, and averaging 39-9-5-3-1 per 100 possessions. That’s just awesome. Not taking anything away from Lebron, but Kawhi doing that + his defense + his team record = 3rd place for me.

As for 5th, not only am I a biased Celtics fan, I’m also a believer in Isaiah.  I didn’t used to be.  Heck, even at the All-Star break this year I was still unsure.  I am now, though.  He shows up in big games.  He’s led his team to the #1 seed in the East. He’s the best 4th quarter scorer we’ve ever seen.  He’s leading the East in PPG and is 5’9. His on-off rating is getting better as the season goes.  The Celtics are learning how to utilize each other while he plays, even though he’s truly awful at defense, similarly to how the Rockets utilize Harden.  I’ve seen it work lately, and now I’m all in.  S/O to Steph and Gobert for being my close 6th and 7th though.

Cole Donaldson – Miami Heat fan

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  1. Russell Westbrook
  2. James Harden
  3. Lebron James
  4. Kawhi Leonard
  5. Giannis Antetokounmpo

2017 is the year that most basketball fans are describing as the closest MVP race in recent memory. I’m here to say 2017 is the year Russell Westbrook had arguably the greatest regular season ever and that he is my MVP without a doubt. His stats are MIND-BOGGLING! Sure the Thunder have won less games than the other top MVP candidates, but let’s be real, this team would be borderline top 5 pick in the next draft if Russ isn’t a part of this team. That’s the epitome of Most Valuable. Oh yeah, he averaged a TRIPLE-DOUBLE!

Number 2 on my list has got to be James Harden, who also had an all-time great season. Who knew turning one of the games best scoring, isolation 2 guards into a point guard would be so successful and unlock the most prolific three-point shooting season ever for the Rockets?? (Mike Dantoni for Coach of the year?!) Obviously, the triple doubles separate Russ from The Beard in shear number, but James was only 2 rebounds a game away from averaging a trip-doub himself. My main criticism here is defense. You gotta play both sides of the ball to be the MVP in my book, but any other normal year Harden’s offensive dominance would’ve been enough to earn the number one spot.

Number 3 on my list is none other than LeBron James. I could give a plethora of reason to justify this spot, but LeBron is the king for a reason. He’s lost some athleticism over the years, but Bron can still get up with the best of them. Best passer in the game. Lockdown defender when he needs to be. Simply put he’s the best player in the game, just didn’t have the best season.

Number 4 goes to Kawhi Leonard. Best defender in the game, who has taken on a huge role in the Spurs offense in the post-Duncan era. For a guy to go from 2 time defensive player of the year to averaging 26 a night is insane. Kawhi guards every other teams best player and gets buckets. That’s rare.

Number 5 goes to the Greek Freak. Main argument for him getting the nod on the top 5 vote over Steph? The dude led his team in POINTS, REBOUNDS, ASSISTS, STEALS, and BLOCKS!! That’s a feat only done a handful of times in the history of the league. The sky is the limit for this foreign superstar once he finally puts in the cheat code for his jumper.

 

 

 

Kyle Gifford – Chicago Bulls fan

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  1. Russell Westbrook
  2. James Harden
  3. Lebron James
  4. Kawhi Leonard
  5. Giannis Antetokounmpo/Isaiah Thomas

A baller in the mightiest sense of the word, Russ brought it every night. Averaging a triple double certainly won’t hurt his case. He averaged 45/15/15 per 100 possessions, which in a word is, obscene. His shooting percentage not being great is a side note as he has to take some tough shots. His tough shots are better than some of their guards’ decent shots. His hustle and drive and absurd stats make him the first player to win the award on a team winning less than 50 games since 1982. Steven Adams and Enes Kanter’s videos sure help too.

Mike D’Antoni deserves a little credit for the Harden switch to point, but James Harden needs a lot of credit for making it pay off. He led his team to the 3 seed in a stacked West while being top 3 in scoring and leading the league in assists. He set an NBA record in turnovers and I don’t mind it. Minutes played plus not missing games places James number 2 on the list. Eric Gordon possibly winning sixth man of the year doesn’t necessarily hurt his case, but doesn’t help it.

Career high in assists and rebounds? At age 32? That’s good enough for third place this year in the MVP race for King James. His defense has dipped either due to age or saving the legs for postseason. Either way his net rating is not quite good enough to put him in the top 2. The Cavs going 0-7 without must mean he’s valuable. He is still probably the best player on the planet. There just happens to be two guys with mind boggling seasons this year.

Efficiency. Defense. Wins. That’s who Kawhi is. While some theorize he is a robot void of emotion, everyone knows he is good at basketball. He does not turn the ball over, takes it from the other team, and doesn’t miss a lot. His rebounds and assists both being under 6 this year does not give him enough to win MVP though. The trend is starting to become clear; “Great season! Too bad there are more people with INCREDIBLE seasons!”

Giannis was impressive on both sides of the floor. He leads this list in block percentage, is second in steal percentage, and second in defensive win shares. What keeps him from being higher on the list is his usage and scoring. The other guys on this list carried more offensive weight. This 22 year old Greek Freak will most likely not be a stranger to MVP conversations for years to come.

Isaiah has been nothing short of incredible this year. Every time I look at his numbers, I get a little more impressed. Size puns aside, his efficiency has been off the charts. Second in the league in scoring and shooting an impressive 38% from 3 are not easy things to accomplish. He is doing that all while being 5’9″. We know its his defense that is his Achilles heel. His VORP isn’t incredible either, and that’s why we find him here on the list.

 

 

 

Treyvis Bush – Oklahoma City Thunder fan

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  1. Russell Westbrook
  2. Isaiah Thomas
  3. James Harden
  4. Kawhi Leonard
  5. Lebron James

Russell Westbrook has 42 triple doubles. The conversation could end there but I’ll go deeper. After losing KD to free agency, most people had OKC left for dead. I’m not gonna argue that they are contenders of any kind because if that’s what you base your MVP on then this is not your guy. But most valuable should be who means the most to their team. Take away Russell from this new look OKC team and you have a top 5 lottery team at best. The second option scoring from Oladipo just isn’t their consistently enough to give credit anywhere else. People say that he is just padding stats, but anyone who puts in enough effort to average double digit assists is trying to win games for his team. Plain and simple.

This one may not be very high on most lists because of his obvious deficiencies on the defensive end of the floor, but anytime a team that doesn’t include Lebron James is leading the East, there has to be an X factor on that team. Isaiah Thomas is that X factor. At 5’9, he plays much bigger than his frame. His offensive game is almost impossible to stop when he is having one of those nights. He does have a very solid supporting cast that can take that load off if need be, but rarely does that need arise. 30 points a game just doesn’t lie.

Most people have Harden and Westbrook 1 and 2 in the MVP race. The order may be switched but that’s the general consensus. Harden is 2 assists per game under averaging a triple double. He’s a big shot maker and one of the top ball handlers in the league. Despite his SG position, he handles the ball like a PG and assists like one too. His defense is much improved from last year, which may or may not be saying a lot. Like Thomas, his supporting cast is strong, it’s probably 3rd on this list as far as overall talent and big names go. Take away Harden from this team, they are probably still in the playoffs. Maybe just barely, but still in.

 

Kawhi may not have the gaudy offensive numbers all the time that the other people on this list have, but his defensive prowess cannot be understated. Tune in to watch a Spurs game and you’ll see him on the other teams best player. His size smothers guards and his quickness is a nightmare for forwards. His knock in the MVP race is that his team is loaded and his coach is a genius. His roster is loaded with future hall of famers. He may be the best 2 way player in the league, but he is not the most valuable to his team.

Of course the best player in the world has to be somewhere on this list. His free throw percentage is down and that may be the only knock on his game this season. He seems to even be better in many areas than previous years. He and Tom Brady are the only athletes who seem to get healthier with age. He’s still the most dominant player in the league, his defensive is smothering, and his leadership is undeniable. Unfortunately for him, he doesn’t really need to lead much. Any team with Kyrie Irving and Kevin love on it doesn’t need an MVP to win games. Take away Lebron and this team is still top 4 in the East most likely. It’s hard to single out one person as the MVP when a team has a “Big 3”.

Mike Beech – Los Angeles Lakers fan

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  1. Lebron James
  2. Russell Westbrook
  3. James Harden
  4. Kawhi Leonard
  5. Steph Curry

C’mon. If it wasn’t for fans and media alike getting tired of him, The King would have won this award 9 of the last 10 seasons. LBJ is shooting 54.8%, highest of all MVP candidates, averaging 26.4/8.6/8.7 (career highs in rebounds and assists in his 14th season), and not to mention the Cavaliers are 0-7 without him this season and still have a shot at the 1 seed. The Cavs are 8 points better than opponents with him on the floor, and -8 without him. Let’s give the award to the guy that changes the game every time he steps on the floor.

Obviously triple doubles don’t guarantee wins, but the Thunder are 33-9 this season when Westbrook pads the stats, which means they’re just 13-25 when Brodie doesn’t record a triple double. Without his production, the Thunder would be near the bottom of the West. But with his team set to finish 6th in the West, and most likely out after a first round showdown the the Houston Rockets, he falls just short of No.1.

James Harden has efficiency. Efficiency. Efficiency. Efficiency is the most important aspect of any offensive player. This metric was going to be my huge push as to why The Beard will probably finish 2nd in MVP voting. However, we’ll just stick with his shooting splits, numbers and the fact that what was supposed to be the lowly Rockets will finish 3rd in the loaded West.

Mikey Alizzo – Philadelphia 76ers fan

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  1. Russell Westbrook
  2. Lebron James
  3. James Harden
  4. Kawhi Leonard
  5. Isaiah Thomas

So I am a little biased on Lebron but I like to see how valuable he is for the team, where they are in the standings, and when that particular player doesn’t play how they play as a team.  They straight up suck when Lebron doesn’t play.

The only reason I have Westbrook above lebron is because he broke the triple double record. Lebrons fg percentage is significantly higher but his PER is 6 points lower than Westbrook’s and he played in 6 less games than him.

Lebron’s wins above replacement and how they are doing in the conference describes what I’m trying to say.

 

 

 

JP – New Orleans Pelicans fan

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  1. James Harden
  2. Russell Westbrook
  3. Lebron James
  4. Kawhi Leonard
  5. Isaiah Thomas

This year’s NBA season was somewhat predictable from the start. That caused us unentertained plebeians to raise the question early in the season, “What exactly is a MVP?”. I do not think it is that complicated of a question. It is the player who adds the most value to their team with their quality of play. This year’s race for the award remained at a maximum of 6 possible winners throughout the season. This year’s award comes down to if the voters prefer the better story (will most likely be the case) or player with most value to their franchise.

I am not being fooled by the first 5 stats in the box. After running regressions all night. I and only I have realized that James Harden was the best player in the NBA this season. Jokes aside, James has turned his rockets team into something nobody projected. They have won 13 more games than Vegas projected them to this year. Due in part to James and the Rockets having one of the most efficient season in their history. I think James Harden will ultimately prove in the first round of the playoffs who deserves the award.

Russell Westbrook is ridiculous. I am not one for comparing current NBA players to those of the past. I believe Russell Westbrook’s triple double average is more impressive than that of the Big O. He has put on the best show for the fans with his drama and fetes that I can remember for a very long time. Co-MVP should not be a thing. Both players would undoubtedly be bitter about it. So the award should honestly be shrunk down to Westbrook and Harden before they square off in the first round and decided immediately after. Oh what entertainment that would be. Since that is likely not to be the case, my reasoning behind selecting Russell No. 2 comes down to the value added factor. I understand that without him, the Thunder could possibly lose to some D- league teams. It is frustrating to watch him play hero ball in very important portions of the game and a possible reason as to why the Thunder could not piece it together this season.

Lebron has tested us this year. While still remaining the most dominant man in the league, he continues to whine and subtly belittle everyone around him. It is very noticeable in the Cavs body language during games. That being said, no one has ever posted the numbers that he did this year with as much efficiency. If you are using the argument for most valuable player to their team, you can’t deny this man spot in the top 5.

This assassin has been passed the reigns to a dynasty and is producing great numbers. To post these elite offensive numbers while being the second most efficient defensive player in the league is ridiculous. He is the best 2 way player in the league and there is not a close second. I also hate Draymond Green.

I was going to make my No. 5 Selection a complete parody. After some thought, I realized that it really would be travesty to leave Isaiah Thomas off of this list. Being 5’9 myself, IT reminded that it is actually possible for someone under 6’0 to succeed in the NBA. Easily the most entertaining player to watch in the NBA this season in my opinion.

Weston Bordis – New Orleans Pelicans fan

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  1. Russell Westbrook
  2. James Harden
  3. Lebron James
  4. Kawhi Leonard
  5. Isaiah Thomas

I believe Russell is the MVP by a close margin. He averaged a triple-double while leading the NBA in points per game, 3rd in assists, and 9th in rebounding. He also broke Oscar Robinson’s triple double record of 41 in a season. In those 42 games that Russell achieved a trip-dub, OKC was 33-9 with a winning percentage of .785. Also, Russell got OKC to the sixth seed in the West, which many believed they’d be 8 or miss the playoffs when the season started. Russell led the league in PER, and was 8th in plus-minus at 6.20. The cases against him I have are, number 1 he is second in the NBA in turnovers per game with 5.4 and his total turnovers are second most in NBA history. Also, he is only shooting 42 % from the field and has taken almost 400 more shots than anyone in the NBA this season. The last flaw I have for Russell is that he led the league in missed free-throw rebounds, which can be flukey.

It was a very hard decision to put James number 2. James led the league in assists, and was 2nd in the NBA in scoring. He averaged 29, 8, 11.6. James moved from shooting guard to point guard this year, which is harder than people expect, and put up almost a historic season. Also, before this year he was known as a ball-hog, but this year he led the league in assists. James has the highest win-shares in the league and led his team to the 3 seed in the West. He is one of 2 guards in NBA history to average 29 ppg on 20 shots or less. He also broke Steve Nash’s record for most assisted 3 pointers by 80. James also led this Houston team to 54 wins, which is 13 more than Vegas’s 41 projected before the season. There are two things that made the case against Harden, one is he led the league in turnovers, and it is the most in NBA history. Also, Houston is only 2.7 points better per 100 possessions with Harden, while OKC is 13 points better with Russell on the floor.

LeBron is in third place just because he has not had the historic seasons that Russ and Harden have. He is still the best player in the world and I believe the most important player to any team. LeBron is averaging 26, 8, 8, which is very good and also shooting an efficient 55 % from the field. Russ and Harden are shooting 42 and 43 % respectively. The Cavs have not won a game that LeBron didn’t play in, and he is 2nd in the league in plus-minus. LeBron is also 6th in PER and 1st in real plus-minus wins. In contrast, Cleveland will likely get the 2 seed in the East, and have been playing terrible of late (23-21 in their last 44 games).

Kawhi has had a great season for a player known for his defense before the year. He has been great on defense but also averaged 25.7 ppg. He is 3rd in the league in win share totals with 13.6 and has led the Spurs to the 2 seed in the West. Kawhi is a great player but a lot of people will say it’s the “Spurs system”. Also, he only averages 5 rebounds and 3 assists. San Antonio is only 2.4 points better with Kawhi on the court in 100 possessions. He has had a great year but nowhere near the top 3 candidates.

Thomas has had an unbelievable season that I did not see coming. He is going to average the most points by any player in history under 6 foot. He is tied for second in ppg with 29.1 with James Harden. Also, he is shooting 46 % from the field which is 2-3 percent higher than Russ and Harden. Thomas has also been vey clutch averaging 9.8 points in the 4th quarter which is just behind Russ’s 10. He has had a great season but does not live up to the other candidates. Thomas is a reliability on defense, and doesn’t average many assists or steals.

In conclusion, I believe that Russell is a great player that had a historic unbelievable season that deserves MVP. His teammate left him this summer for Golden State to make them great, so he played with not a great team. James Harden and LeBron had great seasons and LeBron is more valuable to any team, but you cannot deny what Russ did.

 

 

Common Fan’s MVP Results

Using the formula of 5 points for first, 4 for second, 3 for third, 2 for fourth, and 1 for fourth, the final tally comes to this.

  1. Westbrook – 38
  2. Harden – 30
  3. Lebron – 24
  4. Kawhi – 17
  5. Isaiah – 9
  6. Giannis – 2
  7. Steph – 1

The people have spoken. If it isn’t exactly like this on the last week in June (right?), then you’re not a brand of the people, NBA.