For the first time in his NBA career, Russell Westbrook is the NBA MVP. On Monday evening, it was announced during the league’s inaugural awards show that the 28-year-old lead guard was the recipient of the NBA’s highest individual honor.
Westbrook, who was seen as a heavy favorite prior to the unveiling, became the first player to average a triple-double since Oscar Robertson. Coupled with his importance to the Oklahoma City Thunder, that was enough to buoy him beyond James Harden and Kawhi Leonard for the honor.
Westbrook averaged 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game while appearing in 81 of 82 regular season contests. Those are, of course, video-game numbers even in a faster, more efficient NBA and Westbrook’s PER (30.70) is a reminder of his brilliance. Because the Thunder finished with “only” 47 victories, there is some consternation about Westbrook’s worthiness as the winner but Oklahoma City’s roster was flawed enough to push the respect level back into Westbrook’s camp.
Beyond that, the narrative portion of his candidacy was noteworthy, as Westbrook captained a team left at the altar by Kevin Durant less than 12 months ago. For better or worse, that created a bubble around Westbrook as the representative of everything that flowed against “super teams” and he wore that as a badge of honor throughout the season while generating out-of-this-world production. In fact, Westbrook invited his teammates to the stage in the midst of his speech.