With two games to go in the regular season, Russell Westbrook may have cemented his case for MVP with a historic Sunday night.
Having already guaranteed earlier in the weekend that he would average a triple-double for the season, Westbrook on Sunday put up a monster, record-breaking 42nd triple-double against the Denver Nuggets, scoring 50 points and recording 16 rebounds, 10 assists, and a deep buzzer-beating 3-pointer that won the game.
The deep three was Stephen Curry-esque, similar to Curry’s MVP-sealing 40-foot winning 3-pointer last season against Westbrook’s Thunder. This time, Westbrook took a pass from center Steven Adams off the inbounds with 2.9 seconds to play, down two, before launching a deep three for the 106-105 win.
He nailed it.
The performance drew praise from Westbrook’s peers.
wow russ. give that man the mvp.
— Blake Griffin (@blakegriffin32) April 9, 2017
Russ MVP bro. ????
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) April 9, 2017
Since midseason, James Harden has seemed to be running away with the MVP in the NBA’s most exciting race in years, thanks to greater efficiency than Westbrook and a better team record. But Westbrook’s recent onslaught of triple-doubles, plus Harden’s injury, seem to have turned the narrative back the other way.
There is no wrong vote for this season, with LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard also ranking as other worthy candidates. But with Westbrook averaging a triple-double for the first time since 1961-1962, breaking the single-season triple-double record, carrying the Thunder to the playoffs, and doing magnificent things like hitting otherworldly winning shots, the race may be his to lose.