When Westbrook hit that 36-foot game-winning dagger against the Nuggets on Sunday, he clinched his defining moment as the league's most valuable assassin this season. Spectacular. Westbrook notched two of his 42 triple-doubles against the Knicks. He added six rebounds, three assists and two steals in 31 minutes of action. Remember, he's getting most of his assists by creating off the dribble and finding the open man while Harden gets his by kicking it out to 3-point specialists who make wide open shots.
Harden scored or had the assist on 72 points on Sunday, pushing his average of points produced to 59 per game and on pace to break the National Basketball Association record Nate Archibald has held since 1972. The two both had epic seasons, but in both real-life and fantasy basketball, I give the nod to Harden. The Thunder will play Denver tonight (tomorrow morning, Manila time), Minnesota on Tuesday and Denver again on Wednesday to close out its schedule.
However, let's not allow Harden's comments take away from the historic season that Westbrook accomplished.
I agreed with Beverley that night in March, and I still agree with him: Harden should be the MVP, but my opinion doesn't matter, and neither does Beverley's.
There is no doubt that the Thunder are a lottery team if Westbrook was not on the roster this year. Harden, too, has put together his fair share of triple-doubles, registering 20 of his own this year while averaging 29 points, 11 assists and 8 rebounds.
But if Harden wins MVP, it's easy to see a massive change in the way we view and discuss the game.More news: Millsap, Hardaway lead Hawks in stunning OT win over Cavs
"Even veteran teams struggle playing against that kind of system and what they're doing to the rest of the league right now", Joerger said. Combo-guard sharpshooter Eric Gordon should win Sixth Man of the Year. We don't have votes, and over the past month, fair or not, Harden has simply been overshadowed by his old teammate. Look, I will fully admit that Harden has been the leading force for a Rockets team that now finds itself third in a hyper-competitive Western Conference.
The main difference between Harden and Westbrook is what surrounds them.
The NBA regular season is now on its windup and the bigger battles are about to begin. He's also averaging 1.5 steals per game while going to the foul line more than anyone else in the league - almost 11 times per game. He's a far superior defensive player to both Westbrook and Harden.
So as that is on the horizon, they have to finish up the season and they'll face the 31-48 Sacramento Kings tonight. Houston's offensive rating drops from 117.0 to 110.3 when Harden is out. The Cavs are No. 1 in the East with a 51-28 record and will play Chicago, Indiana or Miami in the first round of the playoffs. For those who believe a 10th rebound is exponentially more important than the 9th, Westbrook - who did it all and then some for the Thunder this year - is your guy. Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Gorgui Dieng, Indiana's Jeff Teague and Washington's Marcin Gortat are the only remaining players to do it.
Dwight Howard provided 19 points and 12 rebounds as Paul Millsap and Ersan Ilyasova were rested for the second half. The Spurs are 61-18 and in second place in the West.