Tag Archives: rockets

Who’s the Real MVP?

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With the NBA regular season concluded, it is time to pick an MVP. Wait what? Don’t we need to see how the Rockets vs. Thunder series plays out?

No we don’t. It’s specifically a regular season award.

With historic seasons behind both Russell Westbrook and James Harden, there can only be one MVP.

The regular season MVP should be awarded to Russell Westbrook. Here is why:

Westbrook averaged a triple double, with 31.6 points, 10.4 assists and 10.7 rebounds per game. No, triple doubles are not overrated, especially for someone who is 6’3”. James Harden averaged 29.1 points, 11.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds per game. But Harden was only two rebounds away from a triple double average! But he didn’t have one. Westbrook did. Westbrook also had 3 50-point triple doubles. Harden had 2.

Westbrook only shot 42.5% from the field and 34.3% from three whereas Harden shot 44% from the field and 34.7% from three. Both shot the same from the free throw line. Splitting hairs. Irrelevant.

Harden shouldn’t get MVP when shooting less than 50%. Really? The Golden State Warriors, with the two best shooters of all time and the best scorer in the NBA, shot 49.5%. The median for field goals was 45.5%. Both Harden and Westbrook fall slightly below that.

For those of you who love the PER (Player Efficiency Rating) statistic, Westbrook finished first with a 30.7, while Harden finished fifth with a 27.4.

But the Rockets won 55 games and the Thunder only won 47!

Well, let’s talk about the supporting cast. After Kevin Durant left and Serge Ibaka was traded from the Thunder, Russell Westbrook decided to be bold and re-sign despite the team’s many young players. On the other hand, James Harden’s team, the Rockets, was short of legit all stars and certainly had no scrubs.

Lou Williams (15 PPG, 23 games), Eric Gordon (16.2 PPG), Ryan Anderson (13.6 PPG), Trevor Ariza (11.7 PPG), Clint Capela (12.6) and Patrick Beverly (9.5 PPG) averaged a total of 78.5 points per game.

Westbrook’s cast consisting of Victor Oladepo (16 PPG), Steven Adams (11.3 PPG), Enes Kanter (14.3 PPG), Taj Gibson (10.8 PPG), Andre Roberson (6.6 PPG) and Doug McDermott (9 PPG) averaged 68 points per game.

So, Westbrook’s supporting cast had an average of 10.5 fewer points per game than Harden’s. That’s a big difference.

So, if someone who averaged a triple double, had 2.5 more points and 2.6 more rebounds, and only 0.8 fewer assists, 0.4% less from three, and 1.5% less from the field, and a supporting cast that averaged 10.5 less points per game than that of his rival doesn’t deserve MVP, you lost me.

Again, the MVP is strictly a regular season award for the player who performed the best. I don’t even believe Westbrook is a better player than Harden—or Kawhi Leonard for that matter. But the man did average a triple double—something that hasn’t been done since the 70s. You think he will flame out in the playoffs? Fine! Doesn’t matter! The playoffs have zero effect on the outcome of the regular season MVP award.

What about Kawhi Leonard? He had a phenomenal season and has improved every season since his rookie year. He has become a superstar on both sides of the floor. The Kawhi Leonard argument is similar to the LeBron James argument— you can’t give the award to the best player every year. That isn’t how voting works. Otherwise, Michael Jordan would have 8, Kobe Bryant would have 7, Lebron James would have 7 and everyone else would have 0.

Kawhi Leonard plays on the great Spurs team. While he is not a “system player,” he certainly benefits from the system of coach Pop. He averaged 25.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game on 48.5% shooting from the field and 38% from three. A phenomenal season nonetheless, but not to the level of Russell Westbrook or James Harden.

Neither of those two had a player at the level of Lamarcus Aldridge, who averaged 17.3 points and 7.3 rebounds a game on 47.7% shooting from the field.

Russell Westbrook deserves to win the NBA regular season MVP award. Regardless of how he performs in the playoffs and regardless of whether you believe he is worse than James Harden and Kawhi Leonard (I actually think Harden and Leonard are better than Westbrook). Westbrook was left hanging by Kevin Durant, and it gave him all the motivation in the world to break Oscar Robertson’s triple double record. And that he did.

Image via https://www.si.com/nba/2015/04/07/nba-scoring-title-race-james-harden-russell-westbrook

About Me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, a 12th grader from New York, New York. I love to play basketball and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants and the Yankees. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

Who is James Harden?

 

After James Harden received much criticism after losing in the first round of the postseason three out of the last four seasons, the debate on how great of a player he actually is continues. However, during this offseason, the hiring of Mike D’antoni had concerned many fans, as Harden’s lackadaisical defensive effort combined with D’Antoni’s lack of defensive care might prove to be a dangerous combination.

Harden has been known to dribble too much and to not involve his teammates in past seasons; because of that, he was moved to point guard.

We all recognize Harden’s phenomenal talent. Yet many (myself included) have been critical of his playing style characterized by his lack of hustle, poor shot selection and little defensive effort. However, so far this season, he is putting a spin on that narrative.

Just 14 games in, Harden has been putting up MVP numbers, averaging 28.6 points, 12.4 assists and 7.8 rebounds, while shooting 36.5% from three, 46% from the field and 81% from the line. Except for the assist average, all of those numbers resemble Harden. The highest assist average Harden ever had—7.5—was during last season. So maybe, this point guard gig is working.

The Rockets are currently 9-6 and place 5th in the Western Conference standings.

I believe the main reason for Harden’s resurgence has to do with the exit of Dwight Howard. He has been trouble in the locker room for almost every team he has played for, including Houston. The signing of Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson, along with having Trevor Ariza, allow the floor to be spaced and allow for Harden to be more creative and less selfish than in seasons past.

While the jury is still out on Harden, he is certainly making a strong case at this point in the season. I hope he continues to produce like this during the remainder of the season and in the playoffs.

Will he be remembered as the guy who did adidas commercials, had nice moves and never lived up to his full potential? Or will he be remembered as the superstar who led his team to victory?

 

About me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, a  12th grader from New York, New York. I love to play basketball and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants and the Yankees. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN2. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

NBA Playoff/Award Predictions

 

What a wild NBA season it has been. With a four-way race for MVP coming down to the wire, and a multitude of trades, injuries and drama, it has all come down to this.

Awards

Sixth Man of the Year: Isaiah Thomas, Celtics

Standing at just 5’9”, Isaiah Thomas took the league by storm last year. For some reason, this season he has been coming off the bench. But it hasn’t hindered his performance in the slightest. While averaging around 16 points and 4 assists a game, he is only playing around 25 minutes for the Celtics, which is extremely odd because he is a rising star in this league.

Comeback Player of the Year: Pau Gasol, Bulls

Recently leaving LA to play for the Bulls, Gasol does not regret his decision in the slightest. Averaging 18.5 points and about 12 boards a game, Gasol has really stepped up his game from last season and is contributing much to Chicago’s success despite Jimmy Butler’s breakout year. I can’t see anyone else receiving this award.

Defensive Player of the Year: Anthony Davis, Pelicans

Anthony Davis has put the entire league on notice and will soon be the best player in the world. He is a candidate for MVP and averages 24 points and 10 boards. He is also accumulating about 3 blocks and 1.5 steals a game, and is only 22-years-old. That’s scary.

Most Improved Player of the Year: Hassan Whiteside, Heat

Hassan who? That would have been the response from NBA fans if you asked that question last year. Going from a bench player on the Kings to a profound center on the Miami Heat and averaging about 12 points a game along with 10 boards and nearly 3 blocks, Whiteside has come out of nowhere and has been very impressive. He has improved the most out of any other NBA player.

Rookie of the Year: Andrew Wiggins, Wolves

This one was easy. Although the Wolves are the NBA’s worst team, Wiggins did all he could to propel the team. With a sweet move by the Wolves to trade Kevin Love for this young gun, Wiggins has impressed with his supreme athleticism and speed. He averaged about 17 points a game, but still has room to grow. He is a great young player.

Coach of the Year: Mike Budenholzer, Hawks

Last year, the Hawks was an 8th seed in the East. This year they are a 1 seed, getting to 60 wins with Jeff Teague, Al Horford, Paul Milsap and Kyle Korver. If you ask me, that’s pretty impressive for a coach.

Most Valuable Player of the Year: Stephen Curry, Warriors

This MVP race has been by far the closest it’s been in years. James Harden was spectacular this season. However, I don’t think the Warriors would be the same without Steph Curry running the show. Helping the Warriors achieve 67 wins, he averaged about 24 points, 8 assists and 4 boards; but he also shot 44% from 3-point range which is 4th in the NBA, as well as attempting the most by a long shot in the NBA. He also has the 2nd highest field goal percentage at roughly 59%. Yes, James Harden and Russell Westbrook were fantastic. However, I have to give the nod to Curry, although James Harden could win as well. As for Lebron James, you cannot give it to him just because he impacted his team the most unless you’re willing to give it to him every year, which I am fine with.

Playoff Predictions:

1st round

Warriors vs. Pelicans:

With the Pelicans clinching their first playoff birth as a franchise, and Anthony Davis having an MVP-type season, Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon are simply outmatched by the splash bros and the Warriors’ depth.

Warriors in 5

Hawks vs. Nets:

With the best Eastern Conference record, the Hawks need to prove that they’re worthy of the number 1 seed and need to take care of business early. With a coach of the year candidate leading them, they cannot lose to a beaten down Brooklyn.

Hawks in 5

Rockets vs. Mavericks:

MVP candidate James Harden has led the Rockets, and has had little help all season. Dirk Nowitzki is a former NBA champion with a squad best equipped for the postseason, unlike the poor free throw shooting Rockets (a la Dwight Howard and Josh Smith). With Chandler Parsons on the other side this time, the Rockets will have to guard too many different weapons and James Harden will need to share the ball with his much less talented teammates. This is going to be a great series.

Mavericks in 7

 

Cavaliers vs. Celtics:

The Cavaliers are a far superior team to the Celtics and should easily beat them.

Cavaliers in 4

 

Clippers vs. Spurs:

The Clippers have had limited playoff success, as the former champion Spurs are the worst matchup ever. Popovich will figure out a way to rise above the 6 seed aspirations and will beat the Clippers by doing so. This will be another series that goes down to the wire.

Spurs in 7

Bulls vs. Bucks:

With Derrick Rose returning, this will make the series far more lopsided than it already is. The inexperienced Bucks will not know how to handle Chicago and the win will happen relatively quickly.

Bulls in 5

Blazers vs. Grizzles:

With Portland losing Wes Mathews, the series will be much more difficult for them. Although Damien Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge are stars, Memphis’ physicality will wear on the young Blazers.

Grizzles in 6

Raptors vs. Wizards:

This series will be the worst. Although two exciting backcourts are going head to head, the Raptors are simply a better team and will finish the struggling Wizards.

Raptors in 7

Image via Wikipedia.

About Me: I’m Spencer (Alexander) Zied, a 10th grader from New York, New York. I love to play basketball, football and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees, Oregon football and North Carolina basketball teams. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).