• The real MVP

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    Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook is averaging an amazing triple double (31.2 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 10.4 assists) and at this pace, he will be only the second NBA player in history to average a triple-double for the entire season. NBA legend Oscar Robertson achieved this back in the 1961-62 season when he posted 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4 assists. This feat is so difficult to achieve that it took 55 years for another player to come close to repeating it. Westbrook still has 11 regular season games to go to make it official. For the season, he has 35 triple-double games, 6 short of Robertson’s record of 41 in a season. For this individual achievement alone, Westbrook is definitely in contention for the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award.

    Another superstar in the MVP discussion is the Houston Rockets’ James Harden. Like Westbrook, Harden’s numbers are unreal (29.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 11.2 assists). As of today, he has produced 56 double-doubles and 19 triple-doubles. Last New Year’s Eve, he became the only player in NBA history to score at least 50 points, grab 15 rebounds and dish out 15 assists. Harden is currently the second leading scorer in the league (behind Westbrook) and leads in assists. Under Coach Mike D’Antoni’s system, Harden has become the primary offense creator and the Rockets depend on him for most everything.

    Between the 2, Harden has a better claim primarily because of his team’s record. For all intents and purposes, the Rockets have locked up 3rd place in the Western Conference ensuring home court in the first round. Westbrook’s team are all the way in 6th place.

    Despite these impressive stats, Harden and Westbrook are not the real MVP’s. If you talk most valuable, then you have to give the MVP Award to LeBron “The King” James. James is only eight in scoring (26.8) but is averaging career bests in rebounding (8.4) and assists (8.8) while shooting 54.3 percent from the field. Unlike Westbrook and Harden who hog the ball and are prone to turning it over, James puts up stats without even trying. He is definitely more efficient than both and has to share the ball with two other superstars (Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love). At 32, James is having one of the best seasons of his career and the Cavaliers are lording it over the Eastern Conference.

    Winning a fifth MVP Award would further cement James’ legacy as one of the best ever. Michael Jordan and Bill Russell have 5 while Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has 6.

    MVP awards aside, between James, Westbrook, and Harden, the King is most likely to reach the Finals and win the NBA title. Westbrook and Harden, meanwhile, need to go through perennial powerhouses San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors before they can challenge James. Yes, Westbrook and Harden are having MVP seasons but the real MVP is James simply because he is the best player in the game.

    raffyrledesma@yahoo.com

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