Russell Westbrook is steering clear of controversy. Where there is no controversy.
Westbrook is the reigning MVP, and he showed why on Saturday with some impressive fourth-quarter defense on James Harden to get the Thunder a vital win in their quest to lock up a playoff spot in the wild West. That doesn’t change the fact Harden will win the MVP this year. The only question is whether it will be unanimous or not.
Westbrook was asked about the MVP race and Harden before Saturday’s game, and went full politician and took no position.
On Harden as MVP: “I’m not sure. Obviously, he’s having a good year, a great year. Their team has the best record in the NBA. I’m not sure.”
On his pick for MVP: “Nah, I don’t have a pick. There’s a lot of guys doing a lot of great things in the league. Honestly, I don’t know kind of what you go off of, because MVP’s kind of been picked differently every year. So it depends what criteria, what it is that you guys vote for. But obviously, he’s leading the charge at the moment.”
There are no real criteria, it’s up to each voter how to balance statistics, importance to the team, wins, level of play on both ends, and whatever other factors should be weighed. Last year Westbrook’s numbers, efficiency, clutch play, and his ability to put the Thunder on his back after Kevin Durant left to go west won voters over, just beating out Harden. This year Harden will win. Going away.
But if Westbrook doesn’t want to name names, it’s his right.