Tom Sorensen

Russell Westbrook won MVP, but he’s not best player – or much like James or Curry

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook had MVP stats, but was he really the NBA’s most valuable player?
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook had MVP stats, but was he really the NBA’s most valuable player? AP

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook complied irrefutable NBA MVP numbers this season. He’s a tremendous athlete and a very good basketball player. But as he approaches the basket, you can see him with the ball in one hand and a calculator in the other. Oops, to meet my quota I need six more points, four rebounds, and two assists.

LeBron James is the league’s best player every season. That doesn’t mean Stephen Curry is not a worthy two-time MVP. It doesn’t mean Westbrook isn’t. It means simply that LeBron is the best player on whatever court he steps, just as Michael Jordan was in his time.

Maybe give a trophy to the MVP winner and a tattoo to LeBron that says: Eternal MVP.

But Curry, and not LeBron or Westbrook, delivered the most valuable assist last season. Curry helped Golden State recruit Kevin Durant. He knew that if the Golden State Warriors signed Durant he would have to share the title of best player on the league's best basketball team.

And Curry was there first; Golden State drafted him in 2009. He was accustomed to being the star. Now he’d have to slide over to 1A. He helped the Warriors sign Durant anyway.

Would LeBron and Westbrook also have recruited Durant? LeBron would have.

The question isn’t valid because Oklahoma City drafted Durant a year before it drafted Westbrook, and they played together eight seasons. Durant was always a star, and Westbrook became one. When Durant decided to leave, the Thunder ceased to be a contender.

Even though this is a time of players jumping teams to play with other stars, the Durant-Westbrook connection differed. Cleveland has stars, but the team is LeBron’s. San Antonio is Kawhi Leonard’s. Houston is James Harden’s. Golden State is Durant’s and Curry’s.

Would Westbrook help recruit a teammate who would compel him to slide over be Oklahoma City’s co-MVP?

What do you think?

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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