NBA Discussion; Harden or Westbrook? – 30th March 2017

This years MVP race has been one of the closest in NBA history, at least in recent history anyway. Players like LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and even Isaiah Thomas are in the conversation for the greatest individual award this season, and are creating their own campaigns for why they deserve the award through their outstanding play in the league. LeBron is, well LeBron, Kawhi is one of the greatest two way players in the league currently, and Isaiah is proving his doubters wrong with his spectacular performances in the 4th quarter of tight games. But there’s really only two true competitors for the 2016-2017 MVP award, and I shouldn’t even have to say who are they, but I will anyway. Russell Westbook and James Harden are the clear contenders for MVP this season, with both point guards basically carrying their entire teams on their shoulders, racing to playoff spots despite the doubts both teams received at the beginning of the season. But who deserves the MVP award, Harden or Westbrook?

*Before I begin I should clarify that my decision on this years MVP is my personal opinion, and should not be taken as an experts thoughts in any way. I don’t wish to aggravate any fans of either player, please don’t kill me.*

Both Harden and Westbrook are phenomenal players, their ability to carry what would otherwise be extremely weak teams, which were both predicted to be lottery teams, is unmatched by almost any other player in the league, and is certainly not comparable at the level of sheer amazement they display on a nightly basis. Harden is currently leading votes for the award, according to the #KIAMVPRace on the NBA Facebook page, with an astonishing 40% of the votes over his peers. But with still 9 games to go before the end of the season, and Westbrook being only 5 triple doubles away from beating Oscar Robinson’s NBA record of 41, The Beard’s MVP campaign is definitely not a done deal.

Westbrook is having one of the greatest statistical seasons in NBA history, averaging 31 PPG, 10.6 RPG and 10.4 APG, that being a triple double, which obviously is the main argument for Russ’ MVP case. This sensational feat has only been achieved once before, when Oscar Robinson did so back in 1962. But The Big O also lost out on the MVP award that season, despite averaging a triple double, when he finished third behind Wilt Chamberlain, who averaged over 50 points and 25 rebounds, and Bill Russell, the winner of the award and NBA title of that season. His ability to carry an otherwise extremely awful OKC Thunder is what puts him in this top two front-runner for MVP. What he lacks in defence, he more than makes up for it with his explosive offensive capabilities. Despite being criticised for being a ‘ballhog,’ as stated by almost every nobody on Twitter, Westbrook actually has pretty phenomenal vision, I mean, did you see his crazy half-court pass to Oladipo that went through the defender’s legs? You can’t be a poor passer and manage to pull a pass like that off in-game. And maybe he does force his stats a little, particularly in the rebounding front when you see the likes of Adams and Kanter just allow him to rebound the ball over them, but wouldn’t you if you had the chance to break a 55 year-old, nearly impossible record? Of course you would. Westbrook has this weird knack for making everything he does look extremely difficult, what with the crazy layups and pull-up threes from stupidly deep range. He seems to always be in full charge mode, for example, Sports Illustrated journalist Ben Golliver made a great point about the difference between Harden and Westbrook, basically saying that Harden makes everything he does seem so easy, gliding up and down the court, while Westbrook just looks freakishly athletic with this ability to do the impossible, which is why most casual NBA fans would choose Westbrook over Harden. This obviously makes a lot of sense, these, what are they called, ‘highlight watchers,’ only watch out for spectacular plays as their motive for choosing an MVP, and when you look at Russell Westbrook’s highlights, they seem a hell of a lot more impressive than Harden’s.

But let’s look at his flaws. Obviously, Russ is the Thunder’s go-to-guy down the stretch of close games, so naturally, his usage rate skies when this is the case. And let’s be completely honest, he hits some incredible shots in clutch time, last night, for example, he hit that crazy pull-up three off the glass from about 10 or 11 feet behind the line to send the game to overtime against the Mavs, and then continued to take over and secure the W for the second close Thunder game this week. But he is heavily flawed in failing to trust his team mates in close moments, settling for a contested three to seal the deal, rather than passing the ball to another Thunder player who is, in most cases, in a better position. He doesn’t necessarily make his team mates better like a LeBron or James Harden, which is probably why he wasn’t heavily voted for by players in the All Star voting, because, as sad as it is to say, he just isn’t a great team mate. No doubt, Westbrook is when of the most passionately driven players in NBA history, and his desire to win is second only to playoff LeBron James, and as an individual, he’s extremely good at taking over games when it matters. But he’s not like James Harden, he can’t take less than average team mates and turn them into a second or third seed team. Yes, he makes the Thunder better, but only by his individual performances night in and night out, which is why his team are now looking at the bottom end of the playoff picture, while his peers are sitting comfortably with clinched playoff spots. His inability to make his team mates better players is why he has to do everything himself, unlike Harden’s ability to do so with an otherwise equally bad team, and is why, for me, Westbrook just is not the MVP this season. You can talk about his turnovers and missed shots when criticising Westbrook, but the two leading MVP vote getters are also the highest ranked in TOPG, mainly because of their huge usage rates, so for me, the main argument against Russ’ MVP campaign is that, his team are sitting in the 6th seed in the West, which obviously isn’t the worse place they could be considering their projections at the start of the season, but his inability to improve the play of his team, as a team, is why they won’t move from that sixth seed, and why Harden is my choice, as both a fan of the Houston Rockets and of the NBA in general, for the MVP for this season.

I’ll probably take some backlash for my choice of Harden as MVP, because, like I said, I am a Rockets fan, which probably makes me slightly biased, but he is receiving 40% of fan votes for the award, so I’m definitely not the only one considering him the clear winner. The Beard is averaging 29.3 PPG, 8 RPG, combined the assist leader with 11.4 per game, which is, while obviously not as good statistically as Westbrook’s triple double average, is still off the charts. I mean, Harden could probably get those extra 2 rebounds a game if Clint Capela did what Adams and Kanter do with Westbrook, and just allowed Harden to grab a couple of extra boards each game, but I doubt those rebounds are as important to Harden as winning is, which he and the Rockets are doing at a fairly better rate the Westbrook’s Thunder, being 9 games ahead of them in the standings. This has gotten them to the 3rd seed in a tough Western Conference, and clinched them a playoff spot over two weeks ago. When watching a Rockets game, it’s almost instantly clear that Harden has this unique ability to connect with the players around, an ability seen in LeBron and Chris Paul, which is pretty special considering he doesn’t even have a years experience as a point guard. He makes his team mates better, and despite him being a scorer at heart, he’s adapted that dimer vision, which allows him to find his team mates even, when driving to the board, which is why he’s became so skilled at the pass and kick tendency we saw so often from him. He and the Rockets are leading the season series against the Thunder 2-1, which automatically gives him a standing point over Westbrook. Like I said earlier, Harden has this crazy ability to make everything he does seem so easy, which is why he’s overlooked as the MVP, because, when you look at Westbrook’s highlights, Harden’s almost don’t seem like highlights as he just glides around the court, sliding off pick and rolls and throwing effortless lobs to Clint Capela, or firing a bullet to a corner shooter like Ariza or Anderson. For this reason alone, I believe Harden could be, no, should be, MVP. And yes, he’s turnover prone, but as is Westbrook, so that argument is kind of invalid here. And the argument that ‘James Harden plays no defence,’ also can’t be used this year, because, for the first time I’ve seen in a season, Harden is actually playing decent defence, and while it not be better than Westbrook’s, it certainly isn’t worse. And I know, the MVP award is based on regular season performance, but if you had to take the Thunder or the Rockets for the NBA Finals come April, who would you take? For me, the choice of that battle, and the battle for MVP, is quite clearly the Rockets and James Harden.

I’ve made my case for why I believe Harden is more deserving for MVP this year, but, to be quite honest, I wouldn’t be mad if either of these players won the award, because, quite frankly, they’re both extremely deserving. Like NBA legend Kobe Byrant said, we could have co-MVP’s this season. Let me know who you think should be the MVP down below, and why. Follow my blog for more NBA Discussions, and check out my Twitter for my general shite posting. Enjoy your day!

This years MVP race has been one of the closest in NBA history, at least in recent history anyway. Players like LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and even Isaiah Thomas are in the conversation for the greatest individual award this season, and are creating their own campaigns for why they deserve the award through their outstanding play in the league. LeBron is, well LeBron, Kawhi is one of the greatest two way players in the league currently, and Isaiah is proving his doubters wrong with his spectacular performances in the 4th quarter of tight games. But there’s really only two true competitors for the 2016-2017 MVP award, and I shouldn’t even have to say who are they, but I will anyway. Russell Westbook and James Harden are the clear contenders for MVP this season, with both point guards basically carrying their entire teams on their shoulders, racing to playoff spots despite the doubts both teams received at the beginning of the season. But who deserves the MVP award, Harden or Westbrook?

*Before I begin I should clarify that my decision on this years MVP is my personal opinion, and should not be taken as an experts thoughts in any way. I don’t wish to aggravate any fans of either player, please don’t kill me.*

Both Harden and Westbrook are phenomenal players, their ability to carry what would otherwise be extremely weak teams, which were both predicted to be lottery teams, is unmatched by almost any other player in the league, and is certainly not comparable at the level of sheer amazement they display on a nightly basis. Harden is currently leading votes for the award, according to the #KIAMVPRace on the NBA Facebook page, with an astonishing 40% of the votes over his peers. But with still 9 games to go before the end of the season, and Westbrook being only 5 triple doubles away from beating Oscar Robinson’s NBA record of 41, The Beard’s MVP campaign is definitely not a done deal.

Westbrook is having one of the greatest statistical seasons in NBA history, averaging 31 PPG, 10.6 RPG and 10.4 APG, that being a triple double, which obviously is the main argument for Russ’ MVP case. This sensational feat has only been achieved once before, when Oscar Robinson did so back in 1962. But The Big O also lost out on the MVP award that season, despite averaging a triple double, when he finished third behind Wilt Chamberlain, who averaged over 50 points and 25 rebounds, and Bill Russell, the winner of the award and NBA title of that season. His ability to carry an otherwise extremely awful OKC Thunder is what puts him in this top two front-runner for MVP. What he lacks in defence, he more than makes up for it with his explosive offensive capabilities. Despite being criticised for being a ‘ballhog,’ as stated by almost every nobody on Twitter, Westbrook actually has pretty phenomenal vision, I mean, did you see his crazy half-court pass to Oladipo that went through the defender’s legs? You can’t be a poor passer and manage to pull a pass like that off in-game. And maybe he does force his stats a little, particularly in the rebounding front when you see the likes of Adams and Kanter just allow him to rebound the ball over them, but wouldn’t you if you had the chance to break a 55 year-old, nearly impossible record? Of course you would. Westbrook has this weird knack for making everything he does look extremely difficult, what with the crazy layups and pull-up threes from stupidly deep range. He seems to always be in full charge mode, for example, Sports Illustrated journalist Ben Golliver made a great point about the difference between Harden and Westbrook, basically saying that Harden makes everything he does seem so easy, gliding up and down the court, while Westbrook just looks freakishly athletic with this ability to do the impossible, which is why most casual NBA fans would choose Westbrook over Harden. This obviously makes a lot of sense, these, what are they called, ‘highlight watchers,’ only watch out for spectacular plays as their motive for choosing an MVP, and when you look at Russell Westbrook’s highlights, they seem a hell of a lot more impressive than Harden’s.

But let’s look at his flaws. Obviously, Russ is the Thunder’s go-to-guy down the stretch of close games, so naturally, his usage rate skies when this is the case. And let’s be completely honest, he hits some incredible shots in clutch time, last night, for example, he hit that crazy pull-up three off the glass from about 10 or 11 feet behind the line to send the game to overtime against the Mavs, and then continued to take over and secure the W for the second close Thunder game this week. But he is heavily flawed in failing to trust his team mates in close moments, settling for a contested three to seal the deal, rather than passing the ball to another Thunder player who is, in most cases, in a better position. He doesn’t necessarily make his team mates better like a LeBron or James Harden, which is probably why he wasn’t heavily voted for by players in the All Star voting, because, as sad as it is to say, he just isn’t a great team mate. No doubt, Westbrook is when of the most passionately driven players in NBA history, and his desire to win is second only to playoff LeBron James, and as an individual, he’s extremely good at taking over games when it matters. But he’s not like James Harden, he can’t take less than average team mates and turn them into a second or third seed team. Yes, he makes the Thunder better, but only by his individual performances night in and night out, which is why his team are now looking at the bottom end of the playoff picture, while his peers are sitting comfortably with clinched playoff spots. His inability to make his team mates better players is why he has to do everything himself, unlike Harden’s ability to do so with an otherwise equally bad team, and is why, for me, Westbrook just is not the MVP this season. You can talk about his turnovers and missed shots when criticising Westbrook, but the two leading MVP vote getters are also the highest ranked in TOPG, mainly because of their huge usage rates, so for me, the main argument against Russ’ MVP campaign is that, his team are sitting in the 6th seed in the West, which obviously isn’t the worse place they could be considering their projections at the start of the season, but his inability to improve the play of his team, as a team, is why they won’t move from that sixth seed, and why Harden is my choice, as both a fan of the Houston Rockets and of the NBA in general, for the MVP for this season.

I’ll probably take some backlash for my choice of Harden as MVP, because, like I said, I am a Rockets fan, which probably makes me slightly biased, but he is receiving 40% of fan votes for the award, so I’m definitely not the only one considering him the clear winner. The Beard is averaging 29.3 PPG, 8 RPG, combined the assist leader with 11.4 per game, which is, while obviously not as good statistically as Westbrook’s triple double average, is still off the charts. I mean, Harden could probably get those extra 2 rebounds a game if Clint Capela did what Adams and Kanter do with Westbrook, and just allowed Harden to grab a couple of extra boards each game, but I doubt those rebounds are as important to Harden as winning is, which he and the Rockets are doing at a fairly better rate the Westbrook’s Thunder, being 9 games ahead of them in the standings. This has gotten them to the 3rd seed in a tough Western Conference, and clinched them a playoff spot over two weeks ago. When watching a Rockets game, it’s almost instantly clear that Harden has this unique ability to connect with the players around, an ability seen in LeBron and Chris Paul, which is pretty special considering he doesn’t even have a years experience as a point guard. He makes his team mates better, and despite him being a scorer at heart, he’s adapted that dimer vision, which allows him to find his team mates even, when driving to the board, which is why he’s became so skilled at the pass and kick tendency we saw so often from him. He and the Rockets are leading the season series against the Thunder 2-1, which automatically gives him a standing point over Westbrook. Like I said earlier, Harden has this crazy ability to make everything he does seem so easy, which is why he’s overlooked as the MVP, because, when you look at Westbrook’s highlights, Harden’s almost don’t seem like highlights as he just glides around the court, sliding off pick and rolls and throwing effortless lobs to Clint Capela, or firing a bullet to a corner shooter like Ariza or Anderson. For this reason alone, I believe Harden could be, no, should be, MVP. And yes, he’s turnover prone, but as is Westbrook, so that argument is kind of invalid here. And the argument that ‘James Harden plays no defence,’ also can’t be used this year, because, for the first time I’ve seen in a season, Harden is actually playing decent defence, and while it not be better than Westbrook’s, it certainly isn’t worse. And I know, the MVP award is based on regular season performance, but if you had to take the Thunder or the Rockets for the NBA Finals come April, who would you take? For me, the choice of that battle, and the battle for MVP, is quite clearly the Rockets and James Harden.

I’ve made my case for why I believe Harden is more deserving for MVP this year, but, to be quite honest, I wouldn’t be mad if either of these players won the award, because, quite frankly, they’re both extremely deserving. Like NBA legend Kobe Byrant said, we could have co-MVP’s this season. Let me know who you think should be the MVP down below, and why. Follow my blog for more NBA Discussions, and check out my Twitter for my general shite posting. Enjoy your day!

NBA Discussion; Let’s Talk About Kevin Durant – 24th March 2017

*photo via (insidehoops)

We’re getting deep into the final stretch of the NBA 2016-2017 season, and Kevin Durant’s knee injury almost a month ago is still haunting Warriors fans, and getting the hopes of Cavs fans up to a limit they haven’t seen since they pushed the Finals to Game 7 last year. For a while, directly after KD’s injury, Golden State looked broken, they looked like a completely different team, compared to this terrifying group of scoring machines who could put up 120 points on any given night, against any given team. Steph and Klay had awful games, night after night, with Curry even going 0-11 from deep in one game, the worst of his career. But recently, it appears as though the Warriors are getting back on track, which is probably the best news they could hear other than KD’s early return, as San Antonio have caught up to them considerably in terms of winning record, and even passed the former Champions for a brief period. Steph is back to being Steph, and Klay is hitting shots consistently again, and it seems that what was potentially the worst case for the Warriors in Durant’s injury, is secretly, on some deeper level, a light at the end of the tunnel, as Steve Kerr can now see how he can fit Matt Barnes into the team, and change the roster around so that they can actually win games without their recently added scoring monster in KD, a back-up tactic which probably hadn’t been on his mind when he first made the trade for Durant. But what does the Warriors’ ability to win without Durant, mean for the man himself?

Every man and his dog have heard various insults regarding Kevin Durant being a ‘cupcake’ for leaving NBA one-man army Russell Westbrook and the OKC Thunder, so his performances for the Warriors on a nightly basis had to be freakishly good as a way to back to his decision to leave Russ. Let’s say the Warriors were to win the title this year with the help of Kevin Durant led by Kevin Durant, his decision to leave the Thunder would be justified to the same level as LeBron’s decision to leave Cleveland to join the Miami Heat in search of a title. KD was third in line to win the MVP award, according to the #KiaMVPRace on the NBA Facebook page, but his recent injury obviously takes him out of the equation to win the league’s most acknowledging individual award, especially when you look at the season being played by his former teammates, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. But now that the Warriors have shown that they can win regular season games with Kevin Durant, at least in a recent showing, KD’s justification in leaving Oklahoma is almost non-existent. Imagine a scenario where KD’s injury is longer than expected (hopefully not), and the Warriors have to advance through the playoff rounds without his help; they take on the Thunder in the first round, as is the current playoff picture, a team they’ve already destroyed without Kevin Durant, so we can imagine they’d take them down in a seven game series, especially if Curry continues to show up. Then they play the Rockets and, while it would be an extremely tough match-up, they could win by taking the series to 7 and just out-scoring Houston from deep. Finally, they somehow beat the Spurs in the conference finals and face the Cavs in a 3peat NBA Finals match-up. Even if they don’t win the Finals, the Warriors show they can win without Durant, and his justification to basically abandon Russ is now non-existent and the hate he’s already receiving multiplies by 10. And let’s say they somehow take down the Cavs and win the chip for the second time in three years; the Warriors win the first ring for Durant, he plays no part in earning the jewellery he’ll wear on his finger, and the hate he’s receiving still multiplies by 10. Basically what I’m saying is, the Warriors new-found ability to win without KD is the best case for Warriors’ fans, but it’s the worst case scenario for Kevin, as it shows that he’s not a vital member in their squad, while he’s still an important part of the roster, he is replaceable.

Let me know what you think of Kevin Durant’s current position with the Warriors down below, and follow my blog for more NBA Discussions. I’m back by the way, school got a bit hectic there, but I’m back to writing now. Follow my Twitter for just general shite posting. Enjoy your day!

NBA Discussion; The Warriors Are Struggling Without KD

The Golden State Warriors were on a pretty good run in the last month or two, losing only 6 games since the start of the season, a great achievement even for a team as highly regarded as the Warriors. This run has been in doubt since the injury of superstar Kevin Durant against the Wizards a week ago. They lost two games in a row after KD went off the court with a grade 2 MCL sprain on his knee, which probably doesn’t seem like too bad of a situation when looking at most teams in the NBA, I mean, it happens regularly. But Golden State haven’t lost two consecutive games since APRIL 2015, 23 months ago. And of course, the Warriors only acquired Durant at the start of the season, so we know they can handle themselves, but since KD’s injury, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson had two consecutive awful games, with Curry even going 0-11 from behind the arc against the Wizards, the worst shooting record of the sharpshooter’s career. Granted, it’s only been 3 games since Durant got injured, and they did win last night, but with the two best shooters in the league, and the leading vote getter for Defensive Player of the Year in Draymond Green, you’d imagine that the Warriors would be able to handle the Bulls, the Wizards loss is understandable to some extent considering their recent form, but losing to a weak Bulls squad is unacceptable for a team like Golden State. And while they did get the W last night against the Knicks, they did struggle to perform against them, with the score being close for the majority of the game. Putting this into perspective, the Knicks are 12th in the Eastern Conference, 24 games behind the Warriors, who recently set the NBA record for clinching the fastest playoff berth, beating the record from last season, which they also set. There was clearly a chemistry issue with the Warriors and their newly acquired superstar at the start of the season, but was quickly dismantled since the beginning of the new year, and it was looking like the Warriors were up for a big season ending run, losing only two games in 15 before Durant’s injury. This is what happens when you sell your entire bench, a bench which was vital in their victory over Cleveland in the 2015 Finals, for one superstar – if something happens to that superstar, you’ve got nobody to replace him. That’s why they made the trade for Matt Barnes, to replace KD. If you ask me, the Warriors are likely to be sent home in the first round of the playoffs if KD doesn’t come back soon, and with a 4 week + expected injury time, it seems like that could be a possibility.

Let me know what you think of the Warriors chances without Kevin Durant below. Follow my blog for more NBA Discussions, and check out my Twitter for updates on the blog and just my general shite posting. Enjoy your day!