MVP Race: Westbrook pushes past Harden for top spot In-Depth
This year’s NBA MVP race is as tight as we’ve seen in years as Russell Westbrook and James Harden are both having historic individual seasons. It’s almost impossible to separate the two and will likely come down to which set of ridiculous numbers being put up by each is most meaningful to the voters.
Westbrook is averaging a triple-double for the season with 31.9 points, 10.6 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game, putting him on track to be the second player in league history to average a triple-double for a season and he would be the first to do so while leading the league in scoring.
Harden is averaging 29.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 11.2 assists per game, while ranking 14th in the league in true shooting (61.3%) and has led the Rockets to the 3-seed in the Western Conference.
Both players have more than legitimate cases for the award and for many voters it will come down to how much they value Westbrook’s historic season with regards to the triple-double or how much they value the team success of the Rockets behind Harden’s performance this year. The oddsmakers are having trouble with this dilemma just like fans and voters, and they haven’t been able to find much separation between the two either.
On March 1, Harden and Westbrook were both at 10/11 odds (-110) at Bovada, but after his 57-point performance against Orlando to set the NBA record for most points scored in a triple-double, Westbrook has moved ever-so-slightly ahead of Harden in the most recent odds. Westbrook is now 5/7 (-140) while Harden is 1/1 (EVEN) to win the MVP award.
This seems to show that the oddsmakers are sensing a growing sentiment that Westbrook’s triple-doubles along with the Thunder clinching a playoff spot have broken the perceived tie for now.
There’s a clean break between those two and the rest of the MVP candidates, per the oddsmakers, as Kawhi Leonard is the next highest on the odds sheet at 12-1 (up from 16-1) as he’s overtaken LeBron James as the third-highest favorite. At this point, I don’t see any way it’s not Harden or Westbrook that takes home the trophy, and with both holding even odds or worse, I don’t see much value in placing a late wager on this year’s MVP race.
The final two weeks of the regular season will decide this race, and at this point we should all just sit back and appreciate the incredible individual seasons we’re seeing.