Who is the MVP?
This has been a topic of much debate. Here at The Fuzz we will endeavour to figure this shit out for you guys!
It's clear there are four men that deserve this award right now… Lets name them in no particular order; in fact lets do it in alphabetical order to make sure we stay completely impartial.
1. James Harden
2. LeBron James
3. Kawhi Leonard
4. Russell Westbrook
Now I am going to mention Isaiah Thomas right here and now. This is it.. he's in the conversation but he isn't winning it, and I am about to do more math in the next 24 hours working on this shit, than I did in my entire 7 years of Maths in Society at Green Point Christian College. So I don't have the time or brain-power to put Isaiah through my judgement criteria.
So because it's so close, and peoples opinions seem to be back & forth on the matter I have come up with 8 criteria, and I will analyse and then rank each potential MVP for each of the criteria. If a player is ranked 1st in said criteria, they will receive 1 point, 2nd = 2 points, 3rd = 3 points & so forth & so on… The candidate with the LOWEST total score at the end will be my pick for MVP.
1 - Russell Westbrook - 31.4 PPG, 10.5 REB, 10.3 AST
Averaging a triple double is hard to do, the last time anyone averaged a TD for an entire regular season in the NBA man hadn't yet walked on the moon and people still thought the Earth was round! Not to mention Russ is leading the league in scoring (going for his second straight scoring title) and leading the league in rebounding for all guards. He is clearly the winner in this department.
2 - James Harden - 29.4 PPG, 8.1 REB, 11.2 AST
On any other year Hardens Stats would go down as untouchable, but thanks to Russ we will just have to settle with otherworldly! Leading the league in assists with 11.2 to go with 29.4 points.. and he's doing so with great efficiently. Did I mention he also is pulling down 8.0 rebounds per game!
3. LeBron James - 26.2 PPG, 8.4 REB, 8.8 AST
LeBron is having a career year in terms of the Stats that he's putting up… and he's 3rd on this list. That says a lot about how great the others have been because LBJ could retire tomorrow and still go down as one of the top 10 players to ever grace the hardwood. Career high in assists at over 8.8 whilst steal leading his team in points & shooting 54% from the field.. not bad.
4. Kawhi Leonard - 26.0 PPG, 5.9 REB, 3.4 AST
Kawhi is now leading the Spurs in scoring, at 26.0 PPG he sits in the top 10 of the league which is amazing considering a) he's a Spur, and b) is the best on ball defender in the league, which takes energy!
DEFENSE (Blocks, Steals & Defensive Efficiency)
1. Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi is the reigning two time DPOY and out of this bunch of guys clearly takes out this category. Still top 10 in the league in defensive win shares, defensive efficiency, and steals. He has had a few memorable moments in the clutch making defensive plays so far this year & DEFENSE MATTERS! And its fun! So Kawhi gets the minimum 1 point for this criteria.
2. Russell Westbrook
I was surprised to find Russ coming in at second place here. Not usually noted for his D... He is 3rd in the league in Defensive +/- behind Draymond Green and Rudy Gobert, as well as top 10 in defensive win shares. Russ is also 11th in the league in steals averaging 1.7 steals per game.
3. LeBron James
LeBron will end up playing his best defense in the playoffs, but he has coasted on that end of the floor this year… He still ranks ahead of James Harden in defensive efficiency but only just. A couple of big defensive plays at the ends of games and that chase down block in last years finals will probably stick in voters minds.
4. James Harden
James looks well rested, it's because when his team is playing defence he has 24 or so seconds to think about other things; like Kardashians, or that he'll make a good Santa one day, or thinking about tweeting at Baron Davis, or shit like that… then BOOM! Back to doing what he does best, GETTING BUCKETS!
OFFENSE (Effective Field Goal %, Offensive win shares)
1. James Harden
Harden leads the league in offensive win shares with 10.5. He leads the league in free throw attempts where he shoots a more than healthy 85%. All this on top of the 11+ assists per game. It's hard to say that the bearded one isn't the most gifted offensive player in the world right now. Disclaimer * There are two Golden State Warriors that might have something to say about this in May.
2. LeBron James
Cavaliers basketball with King James at the point is historically good. His FG % leads the group with an effective FG% of nearly 60%. He is top 5 in the league in just about all offensive statistical categories. And believe it or not he is actually shooting the best from deep out of all the MVP candidates!! (Except Isaiah Thomas)
3. Russell Westbrook
Russ is doing some crazy things, 50 point triple doubles (but then so is Harden), multiple 40 point back to back to back to back streaks.. but the reason he comes in behind the James crew is his efficiency & usage rate. Westbrook will leave Kobes 37% usage record from 2006 obliterated this year. Westbrook does lead most offensive stats but with a 42% usage rate he probably should be putting up more!
4. Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi is great on offence, probably top 10 in the league this season, but without going into detail he's the clearcut 4th option amongst this group of candidates.
PER / EFFICIENCY
1. Russell Westbrook - 30.2
Not many people can have a player efficiency rating of over 30 for an entire NBA season. Chris Paul? Nope. Kevin Durant? Nope… LeBron has done it 4 times but not since 2012. Michael Jordan also did it four times & Stephen Curry in 2016 came in with 31.46 (8th best all time!)
2. Kawhi Leonard - 28.0
I love that this stat rewards production, in all forms. Leonard is constantly producing when he's on the floor at both ends. The Spurs are a well oiled machine but Kawhi really does do A LOT both on and off the ball & the proof is in the PERdding!
3. James Harden - 27.9
Imagine if Harden just put in a little more effort, and more consistently on defence? His PER would be through the roof. I've seen him play lock down defence on Kyrie Irving…. once.
4. LeBron James 26.8
LeBron is the only one of the group to have a PER for the year that comes in less than his career average. Which just tells you how fucking insane he is, and has been for so long. In 2009 LeBron had his 'Westbrook' year where he basically did everything. His PER that year was 31.67, just slightly behind Jordans 'Westbrook' year in 88 (31.71)
PLAY MAKING (Team offence, Vision)
1. LeBron James
There's no real stat to definitively say who's the best play maker of the bunch. But for my money LeBron has the edge here. His vision and feel for the game is unmatched. He still has the ability to takeover by himself with physicality and now also possesses the mental tools to outthink an opponent. If there is a weakness in the opposition LeBron will find a way to exploit it.
2. James Harden
If you were building an NBA offence in 2017 would you seriously look past Harden? He is more clinical than LeBron in the sense that he runs an offensive scheme that suits his game and the players around him, and it's basically impossible to stop. A+B=C when it comes to the Houston Rockets… It's pick your poison and Hardens skill sets and decision making ability is what makes it all work.
LeBron gets the edge here because he's the player that could probably take the Brooklyn Nets to the finals next year with an innate ability to get something out of everyone, Harden still needs a specific system & the right personnel.
3. Russell Westbrook
Westbrook gets a lot of assists but they are mostly hand offs or simple pick & roll actions with his bigs. And it works because Russ is so damn hard to stop from scoring on the drive or in transition. I don't really consider him a premier 'Play Maker' in the 'traditional Point Guard' sense of the word but in saying that he still does create pretty much every bucket OKC score.. and they are looking like a 48 win team in the Western Conference which is pretty fucking great.
4. Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi can finish plays, and he can score buckets. He is the engine for the Spurs but he's not at the steering wheel. That would be a combination of Pop, Tony Parker & Patty Mills.
DURABILITY (Rest, Minutes Played)
1. James Harden & Russell Westbrook.
I thought about giving Russ this point alone because Harden doesn't play any defence but in actual fact Harden has played more minutes than Westbrook. Neither of these guys have sat out a single game just yet so they can share a point.
2. LeBron James & Kawhi Leonard
Both have played (and rested) a similar amount of games. When voting is close and people genuinely aren't sure who to pick I know this criteria becomes important.
TEAMS OVERALL RECORD
1. Kawhi Leonard - SPURS 54-16
Another thing that has always played a huge roll in the MVP voting is the teams overall Record. Spurs are second overall and are pushing for the number one seed. This is a bonus for Leonards chances.
2. James Harden - ROCKETS 49-22
The Rockets recently beat the Cavs and thats why I'm putting Harden over LeBron. The two teams record are pretty similar.
3. LeBron James - CAVALIERS 46-23
Cavs probably cost themselves a few wins throughout the year with inconsistent play. They have also dealt with more injuries to key players than the Rockets and by the time this is all said and done if its between LeBron & Harden this criteria will most likely not count.
4. Russell Westbrook - THUNDER 40-30
No one has ever been named MVP representing a team below the 3rd seed. It would be unprecedented if Westbrook wins it from the 10th seed.
NARRATIVE (The NBA story side of things)
1. Russell Westbrook
Kevin Durant left, the cupcake ass mother fucker… they said Russ couldn't do it on his own. So what did he do? He averaged a triple double for an entire season didn't he. I can see it now… The NBA LOVES flashy numbers, a badass attitude and a feel good story for OKC. And considering they could've had Durant AND Harden on the roster STILL - this figures to go one of two ways for the Thunder.
2. James Harden
James Harden probably would have been MVP in 2015 if it wasn't for Curry pipping him at the post with that crazy season, where he went and pretty much reinvented basketball. Then 2016 came along and James forget that he was a professional athlete. He actually rocked up to media day hung over and had to be isolated from the rest of the team due to STI's clearly visible through his beard… But return of the motherfucking Jedi!!! In 2017 Harden is back! Dwight was a speed bump and the Houston Rockets own the leagues best offense... and the MVP!
3. LeBron James
Michael Jordan has 5, LeBron has 4 and we all know LeBron is chasing the 'Ghost From Chicago'. Let me ask you this… if LeBron doesn't win this year, will he ever really get another chance? This is his best season since his 2012 MVP year & it would be a cool story to see him equal his Airness.
4. Kawhi Leonard
Lets be honest… I should probably deduct points off Kawhi for this criteria. The guy is more boring than the alcohol free beers my Girlfriend is making me drink whilst I slave over this fucking article. If Leonard wins it the NBA will wait for Donald Trump to do some crazy shit & then announce it the same day so in the hope no one asks any questions!
MOST VALUABLE (on/off court & point differential)
1. LeBron James +18.5
With LeBron on the court the Cavs have outscored their opponents by an average of 9.6 points. This wold have them above the Spurs and a tick below the Warriors. When he sits… wait for it -8.9 points… Good for LAST IN THE FUCKING LEAGUE. To me that is the very definition of Valuable.
2. Russell Westbrook +13.8
Another team that stink without their star, OKC tick along at +4 points when Russ is on floor. When he rides the pine they fall off to an abysmal -9.8… WORSE THAN THE CAVS! LeBron gets the edge here but both these guys are super valuable to their teams chances of even beating the Lakers with Ingram running the point.
3. James Harden + 1.9
Maybe its not Hardens fault his team doesn't suck when he takes a break? Or maybe Harden doesn't deserve the credit for why his team is so good? Houston are + 7.7 points with him on, and still a blistering +5.8 points with him off. Mike D'Antoni and the front office definitely need a mention here because the rotations and offensive schemes are brilliant and Harden is the pin up boy.
4. Kawhi Leonard +0.6
The Spurs are just so good. I mean Tim Duncan just retired and they haven't even lost a beat. Kawhi is great but lets be honest, Pop would still find a way to be great without him. Rotations with Tony Parker, David Lee & Pau Gasol are actually returning positive defensive results and that just boggles the mind. I think the point differential highlight situations where sometimes a player deserves credit for being valuable, and other times an organisation or coach also deserve the credit?
There is so much that goes into this award, but without further ado lets see the results. Remember the player with the Lowest score is my MVP!
Coming in 4th with a score of 26 points is Kawhi Leonard
Coming in 3rd with a score of 22 points is LeBron James
Coming in 2nd with a score of 20 points is James Harden
Coming in 1st with a score of 14 points is RUSSELL WESTBROOK
Well there you have it, the 2017 NBA MVP will be Russell Westbrook. To be completely honest I thought James Harden would have won it! Maybe you guys better re-do my Math just incase I fucked up!?!?