Roundtable: Who is the NBA MVP so far?

Eastern Conference guard Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Hornets (15) reacts as Western Conference guard Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder (0) hangs from the rim on an attempted slam dunk during the first half of the NBA All-Star basketball game in New Orleans, Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017.  Our writers believe that Westbrook is a serious MVP candidate. (Gerald Herbert/AP)

Yes, all these NBA trade rumors are fun, but acquiring role players can usually only take you so far. You need a superstar. With that in mind, we asked our staff: who has been the most valuable player so far in the NBA this season? Compared to recent seasons, it’s been a fairly open race so far.

Antonio Salazar, Staff Writer

I am of the school of thought that the most valuable player does not have to be on the best team, but rather the player that is most important to his ball club. Because of this I think Joel Embiid is the NBA MVP right now. The Sixers have already doubled their win total from last year with a lot of games left to play and Embiid has had a lot to do with it. Despite playing with a severe minutes restriction, the big man has averaged 20 points per game and eight rebounds per game. I do not think Embiid has played enough games to actually be considered, but you get the idea.

Luke Swanson, Campus Correspondent

Russell Westbrook, by almost every measure, is the current frontrunner for the NBA MVP. You can see why just by looking at his ridiculous stat line: 31.1 points, 10.1 assists and 10.5 rebounds per game. He’s averaging a triple double, which hasn’t been done since Oscar Robertson did it 55 years ago. Westbrook also leads the league in points, sits top five in assists and sits top 20 in rebounds per game as a guard (which is absurd). The Oklahoma City Thunder are also a whopping 13.9 points per 100 possessions worse with him off the floor, making him incredibly valuable to their success as a team. If he carries this Thunder team to the playoffs, he definitely deserves the MVP trophy.

Matthew Kren, Staff Writer

With The Process playing for the 76ers, they are the third worst team in the East, if you take him off of the team they are probably second worst. Therefore he cannot be the MVP because one he cannot stay healthy, hence the minutes restrictions, and two he is a bottom feeder in the NBA. Westbrook should not be the MVP because with him on the team, the Thunder are currently a seven seed, with him off they are probably 11th or 12th in the West. Yes, that means he is making the team better and yes he is averaging a triple double but the Thunder are not going to come close to a championship. The MVP every season should be LeBron, as with LeBron on the team the Cavs are a threat for the championship, without him they are 4-18 are outscored by their opponents at a rate of 4.4 points per 100 possessions. With him they outscore opponents by 7.8 points per 100, LeBron is the King of the East and the true king of the NBA.

Eastern Conference LeBron James of the Cleveland Caveliers (23) goes to the basket during the first half of the NBA All-Star basketball game in New Orleans, Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017.  LeBron is another candidate nominated by our writers. (Gerald Herbert/ AP)

Andrew Morrison, Staff Writer

The MVP race essentially boils down to two superstars: James Harden and Russell Westbrook. In many respects, Harden and Westbrook are similar players: electric point guards that can score, rebound, and assist at near-triple-double pace. However, Harden’s efficiency and unselfishness set him apart. Westbrook averages 31 points per game, but he takes a league-high 24 shots per night to get there. Harden shoots a higher percentage and still totals a ridiculous 29 points per game. Yet the most impressive aspect of Harden’s game this season has been his passing. As a shooting guard, Harden was always fantastic at getting his teammates involved. But since moving to the point guard position at the beginning of this season, he’s been on another level. His 11.3 assists lead the league, and between his scoring and passing, Harden accounts for about 49 percent of the Rockets’ nightly scoring output. The Beard is playing out of his mind this year, and is thoroughly deserving of MVP.

Ibaad Nazeer, Campus Correspondent

James Harden has the biggest shot to win the MVP award for the 2017 season. Ranking first in assists and third in points per game this season, Harden has led the Houston Rockets to the third spot in the western conference. Harden has played well and has developed nicely into a point guard who is an effective shooter, shooting 44 percent from the field and 35 percent from 3-point range, and who can also find his teammates, with 11.3 assists per game. Russell Westbrook does have the stat line to compete with Harden, but his Thunder team needs to win more games for him to have a fair shot at winning the award. Kevin Durant is the dark horse in this three-man race, quietly putting together a great season, averaging 25.8 points per game while blocking 1.7 shots per game, leading his Warriors squad to first in the Western Conference. However, James Harden has both the stat line and record to win the MVP award this year.


Antonio Salazar is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at antonio.salazar@uconn.edu.

Luke Swanson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus.  He can be reached via email at luke.swanson@uconn.edu

Matt Kren is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering women’s basketball. He can be reached via email at matthew.kren@uconn.edu.

Andrew Morrison is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at andrew.morrison@uconn.edu. He tweets at @asmor24

Ibaad Nazeer is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus and can be reached via email at ibaad.nazeer@uconn.edu