Just days after four Bruins were selected in the 2017 NBA Draft, another NBA Bruin made headlines yesterday when Russell Westbrook won the league’s MVP award for the 2016-17 season.
Westbrook earned 69 first-place votes out of the 101 votes cast, earning him the award. It wasn’t even close. James Harden came in second with 22 votes while Kawhi Leonard received 9 votes and LeBron James got just one.
Westbrook’s stats for the season were pretty amazing. He averaged 31.7 points per game, which led the league. He was third in assists with 10.4 per game and tenth in rebounds with 10.7 per game. In the process of doing that, he set a new statistical standard of 30-10-10 by frequently finishing games with 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
But, I think the most telling stats from this season are the NBA equivalent of baseball’s Wins Above Replacement (WAR) stat. That’s the on-the-floor/off-the-floor comparison. With Westbrook on the floor, the Oklahoma City Thunder outscored opponents by 3.3 points per 100 possessions. With Westbrook off the floor, the Thunder were outscored by 8.9 points per 100 possessions. The fact that he takes his team from being outscored by opponents to outscoring their opponents shows the kind of impact that Westbrook had on his team and that, in my opinion, is what earned him this award.
It’s also why Westbrook became the first player since Moses Malone back in 1981 to win the MVP award on a team with fewer than 50 wins.