If there is one thing you should know about PJ Guippone, the basketball fan, it is that I fucking love Russell Westbrook. I generally don’t get myself caught up in blind, passionate fandom, but with the Brodie, it is exactly that. He can do no wrong in my eyes. I love everything about him. I love that no shot is out of range for him, I love that he never thinks he’s cold, I love that he has the strongest shoulders in the NBA, I love his pettiness, I love his sense of style. Just everything. You name it, I love it.
With that in mind, I’m sure it’s easy to imagine that I was on the verge of tears watching his MVP acceptance speech. I am minorly upset that he didn’t thank me for being his biggest fan and advocate and standing up for him in every debate about the modern NBA, but it’s ok.
Now that I got my fanboying out, I must ask the question: What is next for NBA MVP Russell Westbrook?
Let’s consider this highly probable hypothetical scenario. Next season, Russell Westbrook again averages a 30-point triple-double. The Thunder do not make any major moves, so they again fall in the 45-50 win range and secure a 5 or a 6 seed in the West.
With the precedent being set, Rusty would have to win the MVP for a second consecutive year, right? Especially assuming either the Rockets or the Cavaliers acquire another star, that leaves Kawhi, who is barricaded by the Spurs system, and Giannis as a long shot. Ultimately, it will probably be easier for him next year to win the MVP than it was this year. So that is two in a row.
It is not a wild assumption to say that Russell Westbrook will continue this level of play and statistical outcome until the Thunder either get another star for him to share the ball a little bit with, or until he retires. In that case, how many MVP awards will Russell Westbrook win? With the precedent of a triple-double season seemingly being enough for the NBA’s MVP, could he break Kareem’s record of 6?
The answer to that is no. This is the part of the article where I attempt to answer all of the questions I have posed in the above paragraphs. Let’s take Lebron James as the most modern day example. In the late 2000s and early 2010s, it was even more obvious than it is now that LeBron James was the best player in the world, which is an absurd thing to think about. In that time, LeBron won all his MVP awards, with 4 in a span of 5 seasons. This season, despite having one of the best statistical seasons in the history of the NBA, the best player in the world was not even a finalist for the MVP.
Essentially, the voters for the award get bored of voting for the same people. I bring LeBron up because he is the perfect example. To say he isn’t the MVP every single year is somewhat laughable. He checks off every box. If you want to take the stats route, he is consistently towards the top of the league in all five major statistical categories. If you want to go with strictly value, imagine the Cavaliers without him. But, he hasn’t won an MVP since 2013 when he was with the Heat.
Even if Russell Westbrook averages a triple double for every season for the rest of his career, he would start to fall into that same category. The “of course he’s doing that” category, which comes second to the “wow, what a season” category. That level of play is just expected of him, so he no longer gets awarded for it. To quantify it, Russ would never win more than 3 MVP awards because as a team, the Thunder have reached their ceiling, and as a player, there isn’t much higher the Brodie can go.
Regardless of the future, Russell Westbrook deserved this year’s award. And despite someone voting for Isaiah Thomas for All-defense and the writers as a whole blatantly disregarding stats to diss the Sixers, they got the league’s MVP award correct by honoring the Brodie’s legendary season.