Tag Archives: Thunder

Who’s the Real MVP?


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).

Kevin Durant: A Game Changer


Kevin Durant has agreed to sign with the… Golden State Warriors?!?! Yes, this is true. So, now what?

Is there an issue with this signing? Well, Durant has the right to go wherever he would like to because he is a free agent. It is his choice to choose which team he would like to be of service to. Why should anyone have a problem with that? Here’s why…

Durant is an MVP, an all star, and an elite superstar. His stats last season were 28 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists per game on better than 50% field goal shooting and almost 90% shooting from the free throw line. Impressive numbers! Any team would benefit from having a superstar like Durant.

In the Western Conference Finals, leading 3-1 in the series, the Thunder were 48 minutes away from heading to the NBA finals to face the Cleveland Cavaliers. Golden State defended their home court and won game 5, having to head back to Oklahoma City down 3-2. Leading late in the game, Durant and his partner in crime, Russell Westbrook, choked down the stretch and let the game go, eventually blowing the series and going home early. Durant shot 10-31 in that game and although 6’11”, played more like he was 4’11” late in that game. That was the final game Durant played in Oklahoma City wearing a Thunder jersey.

Flashback to the morning after the Game 7 defeat in the Western Conference Finals:

One might argue that Durant should leave. That the chemistry between him and Westbrook does not seem to translate into winning. I happen to agree, and think Durant should find a new home. Some teams including the Spurs, Heat, Clippers, Celtics and some others look like nice destinations where he could compete for a possible run at a championship.

Flash forward:

If, hypothetically, Durant had announced his decision to go play for the Warriors that morning, what would the reactions be? Similar to mine now, I’m sure. So of course, the Warriors did not win the championship—they too blew a 3-1 lead to Lebron James, Kyrie Irving and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The MVP Steph Curry certainly did not play like an MVP in the finals. However, the Warriors still have 3 all star caliber players and 3 top 20 players on their roster at this time. Why would they want Durant? The better question would be why would he want to go there?

On July 4th, Durant lit the fireworks. Here are my issues with his decision:

He is a superstar who is joining other superstars to form a super team. I’m not a big fan of super teams, as I like competition. In addition, Curry won back to back MVP awards and the Warriors already won a championship without Durant. The Warriors have the two best shooters in the NBA and most likely the greatest backcourt of all time. This is essentially an, “if you can’t beat them, join them” approach which I find an extremely weak mentality for an extremely strong player. If Durant and the Warriors win a ring, I believe his legacy will be tainted in some form due to the immense talent around him. Now, don’t get this confused with the LeBron “decision” of 2010. This is different because he is leaving a good team with another superstar on it, Russell Westbrook. LeBron left Mo Williams—a bit of a difference, no? Also, he joined other stars, yes, but he did not join the team that continued to beat him, the Boston Celtics. He joined a solid team who he thought could compete against the Celtics, as they certainly did. I didn’t have a problem with what James did, but with how he did it. As for Durant, I don’t have a problem that he left his team but with the team he chose to be on.

Although many people have different opinions on this matter, there is one fact that lies in the rough: this is all because of LeBron. Durant most likely thought that James would beat him in more finals if he made them, just like in 2012. The Warriors knew that a fully healthy Cleveland squad had an edge on the Warriors sharpshooters. Therefore, they combined forces to win the title, with none other than James, a 3-time champion, standing in their way. Two of those rings came at the hands of the Warriors and Durant’s Thunder.

Durant is a sellout who jumped on the bandwagon of the Golden State Warriors along with the 100,000,000 other people. This is an incredibly weak move by a superstar like him. I have no problem with people wanting to get their money. If he would have stayed behind and taken the max from the Thunder, I would have had no problem. If he went to any other team besides the two that were in the finals and took a pay cut to compete for a championship, I would have had no problem. But the fact that he went to the team that not only won a title, but beat him in his path to the NBA finals shows incredible weakness not only by Durant, but by the Warriors as well. This further legitimizes LeBron James’ greatness, because this is entirely revolved around him, whether you believe it or not.

Durant has been my favorite player since he was drafted out of Texas in 2007 to the Seattle Sonics, now the OKC Thunder. I did not mind that he left. I did not believe the chemistry between him and Westbrook would have led to a title. But the fact that he joined the team that beat him, a team that is already solidified as a champion, a team that has a two-time MVP on it? That’s just low. It makes him look weak. This will taint his legacy, regardless of how many rings he wins with this team, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 11, 13, it doesn’t matter. He will be known as a piece to a puzzle that was already complete. He has soiled the competition of the NBA, because I don’t see anyone who will be able to beat them when fully healthy.

He is still a phenomenal player, but I have lost too much respect for him over this “easy path to a ring” mentality of his. He could have chosen any other team, yet he decided to jump on the bandwagon. This is parallel to if Wilt Chamberlain would have joined Bill Russell’s Celtics; if Michael Jordan joined the bad boy Pistons; If Larry Bird joined the Showtime Lakers; If Steve Nash joined the Spurs; If LeBron joined the Celtics. It’s weak, and I can’t root for him any longer. I hope he enjoys his ring. He surly “earned” it.

Image via davidsantana.sportsblog.com

About me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, a rising 12th grader from New York, New York. I love to play basketball and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees and the Oregon football team. 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 predictions 2015-16

After a tremendous postseason, when the Golden State Warriors reigned victorious, there were still a lot of questions to be answered. What if they played the Spurs? What if Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were all healthy? All these questions still remain. At the same time, the Warriors are getting a lot of heat from other teams that remain unconvinced that they’re the champs. A great offseason has led to some powerful additions to many teams which will make this year all the more competitive. So, here are my predictions for the upcoming NBA season:

East Standings:

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers
  2. Miami Heat
  3. Toronto Raptors
  4. Milwaukee Bucks
  5. Washington Wizards
  6. Chicago Bulls
  7. Atlanta Hawks
  8. Charlotte Hornets

West Standings:

  1. Houston Rockets
  2. Golden State Warriors
  3. San Antonio Spurs
  4. Oklahoma City Thunder
  5. Los Angeles Clippers
  6. Dallas Mavericks
  7. Memphis Grizzlies
  8. New Orleans Pelicans

Conference Finals Matchups:

Cavaliers vs. Heat

Rockets vs. Thunder

NBA Finals Matchup:

Cavaliers vs. Thunder

Scoring leader: Kevin Durant, Thunder

Rebounds leader: DeAndre Jordan, Clippers

Assists leader: Rajon Rondo, Kings

3pt % leader: Stephen Curry, Warriors

Blocks leader: Anthony Davis, Pelicans

Rookie: Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves

Coach: Greg Popovich, Spurs

Defensive: Anthony Davis, Pelicans

Most Improved: Michael Carter-Williams, Bucks

MVP:  Anthony Davis (Pelicans)

What are your predictions for the upcoming NBA season?

Check out previous posts on Second Take with Spencer A here

About Me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, an 11th 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).