Matt Bonner: Now, as someone who played for Coach Pop for the last 10 years … let me put that into a little perspective. The Spurs’ system is predicated on one of Pop’s favorite sayings: “Good to great.” Translation: Always pass up a merely good shot, or a merely good play, for a great one. Basically — move the ball, make the extra pass, and be unselfish. And since there’s so little ball domination in that system … it makes it pretty impossible for any one player to put up a huge scoring average. Even Tim Duncan — arguably the greatest power forward to ever play the game — never had a season in which he averaged 25.7. And that’s really all you need to know. To me, 25.7 points per game in the Spurs system … that’s like 30 plus on almost any other team.
Matt Bonner: As any sandwich lover knows, a great sandwich lives or dies by its bread. And as any NBA fan knows, defense wins championships. And Kawhi is the best defender in the NBA. This year, to be honest, it’s not even really that close. Kawhi has it all. He’s got the physical attributes — long arms, big hands, strength and quickness. He’s got the mental attributes — an off-the-charts basketball IQ, a next-level understanding of angles, the best sense of anticipation I’ve ever seen. He’s got the work ethic — the drive to absolutely work his butt off, night in and night out, to lock down his man. And he’s got the clutch gene — he quite literally wins games in the fourth quarter on the defensive end.
Jonathan Feigen: Add Doc Rivers to list of coaches non -committal about the MVP race. "I was hoping no one would ask me that. Its your flavor."
And: Oklahoma City has 46 total wins this season. That means, the vast majority of the time this season, Westbrook has had to get a triple-double for his team to win. Think about that. When Westbrook hasn’t gotten a triple-double, his team is 13-25. And you’re telling me his triple-doubles are arbitrary? No, they’re damn near a necessity for OKC this year.
One player, however, disagrees. James Harden, Westbrook’s chief competition for the league’s top individual award, said people are focusing too much on stats and not enough on wins. He gave his thoughts on the MVP following his own triple-double performance in Sunday’s victory over the Sacramento Kings: “I think [team record is] the most important thing. I thought winning is what this is about -- period,” Harden said. “I’m not going to get in-depth with all that, but I thought winning was the most important thing. If you set your team up in a position to have a chance, at the ultimate goal, that’s the most important thing.”
Tobias Harris, Detroit Pistons: “To me, It would probably be Westbrook. You see all his triple doubles and where he has his team. (After pausing for several seconds, he added). Actually, I would do a co-MVP. Those are my choices. He and James Harden. I would vote for both of those. Both of them are playing extremely good basketball.’’ Jason Terry, Milwaukee Bucks: “I got James Harden. That’s my pick. I like the way he’s playing this year. If I had my choice, I’d give it to both of them (Harden and Westbrook), but nobody seems to like the co-MVP idea. But if you want to talk about making history, you give it to both of them. What they’ve done will never be done again. That’s what this league is based on: guys making history. How many times are you going to have two guys playing at the level they’re playing at, the seasons they’re having? There’s no way you can’t give it to the other guy. How do I just say James? Or how do I just say Russell? That would be an injustice. I’m splitting my vote and giving it to both of them.’’
Stan Van Gundy, Detroit Pistons coach: “Leonard, Harden, Westbrook, James … They’ve all been very good. But I’m going with Isaiah Thomas. I’m a little biased; I’m in the East (Conference). I’m not sure there’s a guy who has been more important to his team than Isaiah Thomas. He’s carried that team offensively and his team is in first place. He’d be my pick.’’ Wesley Matthews, Dallas Mavericks: “It’s tough. We’re seeing guys have historical seasons. But it’s hard to go against someone who is averaging a triple-double. What he (Westbrook) is doing is unbelievable. We’ve only see it one other time (Robertson in the 1961-62 season). That speaks for itself.’’
Steve Aschburner: Voting deadline for NBA awards: Friday. Announced in 10+ wks. Wonder how speculation/leaks affect top candidates' & teams' postseason play.
Houston Rockets star guard James Harden said Sunday wins should matter when it comes to the Most Valuable Player award.
"I think that's the most important thing, I thought winning is what this is about, period," Harden said after recording his 21st triple-double of the season in the Rockets win over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday. "I'm not going to get in-depth with all that, but I thought winning was the most important thing. If you set your team up in a position to have a chance, at the ultimate goal, that's the most important thing."
Westbrook set a NBA single-season record for triple doubles in Sunday's victory over the Denver Nuggets with his 42nd. "It's a huge accomplishment," Harden said of Westbrook, whom he's close friends with. "He's been playing extremely well all season long, it's never been done before it's a great individual accomplishment and it's great."
Jonathan Feigen: James Harden said he will text congratulations to Russell Westbrook for triple double No. 42. But he and teammates said MVP about wins, too.
Peter Edmiston: Pregame - David Fizdale officially endorses Russell Westbrook for league MVP. "He's my favorite non-Grizzly player in the league."
Fred Katz: Mike Malone says he thinks Westbrook should be MVP: "Early in the year, people said he couldn't keep this up for 82 games, and he has"
Being a two-time MVP, if you had to pick, who would you give it to? Steve Nash: Traditionally, if you had to pick, Harden probably seems to be in the lead because his team's contending and he's elevated the play of his team. Having said that, Russell's just been historic in terms of production and usage. It's an interesting debate, but that's all it is, a debate.
Around the 1:08:00 mark of the podcast, Lowe gave this critique of Westbrook, who is on the verge of breaking the record for most triple doubles in a season, as well as being the first in 55 years to average a triple double for the season. Lowe: "If you don't think Russell Westbrook is stat padding his rebounds, you're just blindfully ignorant or not watching. "He is stat padding his rebounds. So if you really care enough about 2 defensive rebounds to make that the deciding factor in who you vote for, more power to you. If you vote for Westbrook, you should not do it because of the triple double. Period." Lowe then clarified that he does believe Westbrook is worthy of the MVP award, but for reasons other than the triple-double average. "I might vote for Russell Westbrook. I'm not going to tell you which way I'm leaning, but I might," Lowe said. "It doesn't have to matter to you that he is averaging a triple double. That's not why you should vote for him.
Why does your teammate deserve to be MVP? Ariza on Harden: “He’s top five in scoring, No. 1 in assists, eight rebounds — almost averaging a triple-double. His team is winning. He gives his team unbelievable confidence to go out and perform every night. With all the things he’s doing, I don’t think the league has seen [this] for a very long time. His work ethic is unreal. Unmatched. The type of person he is, he’s all about basketball. And he’s been doing since I’ve been here, the past three seasons. He’s been very consistent about the way he carries this team.”
Ariza on Harden’s infamous defense: “Everybody has something that they have to work on. To me, I think that he’s improved in that area a lot. It’s not like people are out here having career nights every night against him. This is the NBA, so players are going to play well and have good nights, but it’s not like people are having career nights on him every night or even any of the time. And he’s improved in that area, if we’re talking statistically or defensive possessions.”
Adams on Westbrook: “For me, honestly, he’s a man of the people. He’s a people guy. So that’s why I think he should be MVP. Such a great dude. What he does for the community is outstanding. And just as a teammate, outside of basketball, he’s like a top lad. He’s the MVP of our hearts.”
Adams on Westbrook’s high turnovers and low shooting percentage: “It isn’t just him in terms of turnovers. You can’t just blame it on him. Honestly, there’s times where — it’s still a turnover if it hits me and I’m not ready for the pass or cannot catch the ball. That’s still his turnover, which is not actually the case. It’s not actually his fault that it happens. Probably just lack of focus or awareness on his end. But either way, mate, in terms of efficiency, he’s doing the best job that he can. No one else can do his job. No one else can come into the Thunder and do what he’s doing at the rate that he’s doing it at. In terms of efficiency, he’s doing a perfect job, I think.”
It appears Harden’s game and numbers have made a substantial impact, arguably as much as Westbrook has in his historic season. “The numbers are very close,” Rockets guard Eric Gordon said. “Westbrook might average two points more or two rebounds more. That’s not really much. Both having fantastic years. No way, I don’t believe, there’s no way [Harden] would straight up lose it.”
Enes Kanter: We invited ⚡️🎅 over to talk about our favorite guy, the MVP, Russell Westbrook. #MVP #MVP #MVP #hist0ry #ThePeoplesChamp #KingofthePrairie
Fred Katz: Jason Terry on Russell Westbrook: "He is the MVP. There is no question" pic.twitter.com/n6CWY7iDcQ
"I think it's comical that people were saying I'm having a down year," Curry said. "To go black and white and say I'm not having as good a season as I was having last year based on just five points a game or shooting percentage or whatnot…there are other things that you try to do other than just the eye test to try and help your team win. This year has taught me that, for sure. The accolades and the attention and all that stuff, the hype is cool. But it's really how you feel about your own game.
No one knows better than Curry that there is an individual gauge for how much a superstar wants to pour into the regular season. He also understands that that NBA MVP award is all wrapped up in storylines. "The narratives kind of take form in December of who's winning, and it kind of takes a life of its own from there," Curry said. "If you're not in that conversation in December, it's really hard to make up that ground with whatever accomplishments you're making.
Local television and radio broadcasters employed by teams will no longer be a part of the NBA’s end-of-season award voting process, according to Indiana Pacers radio commentator Mark Boyle and Chicago Bulls radio commentator Chuck Swirsky.
The pool of media members with votes is also smaller this year, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst -- while there used to be about 125 voters per award, this time the same 100 voters will determine every award.
Chuck Cooperstein: Just been told by the NBA that team broadcasters won't have NBA award votes. Disappointed, but given new CBA complexities, I get it.
The NBA's first awards show will be held June 26 at Basketball City at Pier 36 in Manhattan. The league will announce the winner of the MVP and its other major awards during the show, which will be televised live on TNT. The Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Sixth Man Award, Most Improved Player and Coach of the Year will be announced during the NBA Awards Show. The league says Monday that it will announce new awards that will be unveiled during the telecast in the coming months.
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook has a supporter in his effort to set an NBA record for most triple-doubles in a season: current record holder Oscar Robertson. Speaking at the Final Four in Phoenix on Friday, Robertson told ESPN's Andy Katz that "I'm rooting for him" to break the record and that "I hope he does it."
Robertson also endorsed Westbrook as deserving of MVP honors for his season's accomplishments. "I think it's Westbrook. That's what I really think," Robertson told Katz of his MVP pick. "Because years ago it was tough to win an MVP because it was based on winning championships -- and [Bill] Russell with the Celtics. They dominated. But one year, Wilt [Chamberlain] averaged 50 points a game and 29 rebounds and me a triple-double, but Bill [Walton] won because his team advanced and we did not."
Evan Fournier: I wasn't really sure who to pick for MVP, but after last night's game... My vote goes to Russ man. Dude is a machine.
Russell Westbrook put on a show for the fans in Orlando on Wednesday night, and the fans showed their appreciation with LOUD “MVP!” chants, even as the Magic blew a lead and lost to the Thunder in overtime.
Darnell Mayberry: Unreal game Westbrook: 57 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists. Carries OKC back from a 21-point second-half deficit. Gets MVP chants in Orlando.
Candace Buckner: #Clippers Doc Rivers says John Wall has been "MVPish" & "If it wasn't for those other two guys, people would probably be talking about him."
David Hardisty: Kevin McHale picks Russell Westbrook as his choice for MVP, saying that "averaging a triple-double" makes him his pick over Harden.
With a big emphasis on rest dominating the NBA the past few weeks, Rockets star James Harden is proud that he has played in all 73 games thus far and missed just one practice. He thinks the fact he hasn't missed a game this season should matter to MVP voters. "Yeah, because you're not leaving your teammates out there to dry, " Harden said Tuesday morning, before the Rockets' game against the Warriors. "For me, I worry about always having my teammates' back and always being out there."
James Harden on the MVP competition with Russell Westbrook: "I just worry about what we have here and winning games. That's all."
Speaking on ESPN on Sunday, Bryant said he thought the league might have to just bite the bullet on Westbrook vs. Harden. “We might see our first co-MVPs this year,” said Bryant.
Mark Berman: Jeff Van Gundy on the MVP race: "You can make a compelling case for 3 or4 people.My personal vote would go to @James Harden right now" #Rockets pic.twitter.com/aNMmNnMnkF
“LeBron [James] and myself are similar,” O’Neal told SI.com earlier this month in Atlanta. “We could be MVP every year. But [the voters] don’t give it every year and he’s already got four. [I should have won] three, easily. Kobe should have won three, too. [I should have won] the two that Steve Nash got over me. It pisses me off. [Nash] knows.” For the record, O’Neal retired in 2011 with five top-three MVP finishes, eight top-five finishes and 13 top-10 finishes. He was runner-up to Robinson in 1995, runner-up to Nash in 2005, and injured for a good chunk of the 2006 season when Nash won his second MVP. Even O’Neal’s sole MVP win remains a sore spot, though, as he was one vote shy of becoming the first unanimous MVP in NBA history. Warriors guard Stephen Curry claimed that honor last year.
“The one where that crazy dummy Fred Hickman f---ed up my historical [unanimous MVP] so now Curry gets the first unanimous,” O’Neal said. “That bothers me a lot.” O’Neal, now a commentator at TNT, admitted to reporters Friday that he “definitely misses playing.” With his Hall of Fame induction complete, his No. 34 jersey hanging in the Staples Center rafters, and now his statue out front, O’Neal’s legendary status is secure. But the competitive spirit that drove him to punish Robinson and the Spurs, to prove to Abdul-Jabbar that he was a champion, and to butt heads with Bryant continues to seep through. Beneath the jokes and pranks, O’Neal still wants his due.
David Hardisty: D'Antoni was asked if this was an example of why @James Harden is the MVP: "How many examples do you need? He gives an example every night."
Enes Kanter: :snake::crocodile: :tiger: :bear: Lions and Tigers and Russ for MVP Oh My!! #MVP #MVP #MVP #hist0ry #thepeopleschamp
Justin Kubatko: The @HoustonRockets James Harden is the second player in NBA history w/ 2000+ pts, 500+ reb, & 750+ ast in a season. Daryl Morey: If we might make someone MVP because they have hit a random combo of numbers then why not this random combo?
"You ask anybody, and they'll have an opinion on who they think," Curry said. "Whether they agree with it or not, it's not obviously my decision. I try to stay away from those Twitter, social media, interview wars. Doesn't do anything for me. Say what I think and keep it moving."
Chris Haynes: Stephen Curry responds to Russell Westbrook's "who's he" remark. Curry had said he'd go with James Harden for MVP. pic.twitter.com/JuIJhmL6Aw
To Jefferson, James’ teammate the past two seasons, it makes no sense. “It’s so funny when they keep talking about all these MVPs, and who’s the MVP, and you know, ‘Kawhi’s the MVP’, but then they go ‘Oh, but LeBron’s the best player on the planet’,” Jefferson said after Thursday night’s 91-83 win over Utah. Jefferson says LeBron is getting devalued in the MVP conversations because everyone is used to seeing greatness from the King.
“LeBron does so much and sometimes you’re just like, ‘But we’ve seen this from LeBron; we haven’t seen this from (Russell) Westbrook’,” Jefferson said. “…You get complacent with excellence, and they’ve seen it so long, they’ve seen him make everyone around him better, they’ve seen him go to the Finals six straight years … LeBron is the beacon of consistency, and it’s like, (do we need) nobody to have a great year in order to look at his numbers — 25, 8 and 8, shooting 50 percent, 40 percent from three? “People have nothing else to talk about so they make stuff up,” he concluded.
Stephen Curry has won the past two MVP awards. Russell Westbrook doesn't care much for his opinion on the current race. On Thursday, Westbrook shrugged off the Warriors guard's suggestion that the Rockets' James Harden probably will win the award. Curry said on “The Dan Patrick Show” on Monday that if he had to choose an MVP this week he'd likely choose Harden. “I don't care,” Westbrook said at the Thunder's shootaround. “It doesn't matter what he says. Who is he?”
Faizal Khamisa: Earlier this week Steph Curry said James Harden should win the MVP over Russell Westbrook. Today RW responds: "who's he?"
With no disrespect to the Boston Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas and the Washington Wizards’ John Wall, most agree that this is a four-player race. Yet as was revealed in a survey by USA TODAY Sports of 32 league executives, this race is as unclear as it is compelling. The executives requested anonymity because of competitive reasons, and participants did not include members of the Thunder, Rockets, Spurs and Cavs and the Los Angeles Lakers’ new general manager, Rob Pelinka, because he was Harden’s agent until a few weeks ago.
The results were gathered throughout Sunday and Monday. Of the 32 executives who took part, 20 are general managers or front-office heads, and their vote totals are in parentheses. 1) Harden: 12 (seven among front office heads) 2) Westbrook: eight (six) 3) Leonard: seven (six) 4) James: five (one)
In the conversations with league executives, there was widespread deference to his dominance, a belief among many that he remains the best player in the league. Even by James’ elevated standards, he’s having a tremendous year (including a career-high in assists) for a Cavs team that has been plagued with serious injuries to numerous starters yet remains atop the Eastern Conference.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich acknowledges voters for the NBA Most Valuable Player Award have an exceptionally difficult task this season. “Glad I don’t have to vote,” Popovich said. “Of course, you know who I’d vote for. Coaches are prejudiced.”
Jay King: Stephen Curry on the M-V-P chants for Isaiah Thomas in Oracle: "We get them in other teams' arenas too. We can't be sensitive about that."
“[Durant’s] probably not going to win MVP because other people out there that are playing extremely well. I don’t think anybody is more efficient,” Kerr said. “He’s having a fantastic season, but it’s kind of going under the radar, in some ways, because of what a lot of other players are doing out there.”
Jay King: Isaiah Thomas also appreciated Kevin Garnett putting him in the MVP conversation: "That's what means the most" http://bit.ly/2ilghBz
A. Sherrod Blakely: The "M-V-P!" chants for @Isaiah Thomas seem to get louder from one game to the next. He has 36 pts, 18 in the 4Q now. #CelticsTalk
Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg says he believes Butler has elevated himself into the MVP conversation with his recent play. "I think so," Hoiberg said. "Just what he's done for this team. This stretch that he's got going right now, he continues to add to his game. He's really playing with the ball in his hands a lot now ... he's just pretty much straight up our point guard for a lot of the games right now. And he's obviously been phenomenal."
Harden didn’t pause or blink when asked for his own MVP pick. He simply nominated himself. “The Beard,” Harden told SI.com, before making his case. “Look at our record. Obviously the numbers, historic numbers. Just my performance overall.”
Jim Eichenhofer: #Pelicans win 4th straight, continue turnaround by pulling away from Wolves 117-96. Anthony Davis 45 pts. Quincy Pondexter: MVP was ballin! Great win fellas! #Pelicans
For Portland to challenge the Golden State Warriors and L.A. Clippers among others in the West, Lillard must take his game to an MVP level. “I think I’m playing pretty well,” Lillard said. “Obviously, being probably my own biggest critic, I feel like there are a lot of things I could do much better. I feel like I can defend much better, just to help the team with our perimeter defense. A lot of times we’re giving up penetration or trailing in pick-and-roll situations and causing problems for our bigs to contest shots and the rim and then their man is getting offensive rebounds. Being a better playmaker, coming back and helping rebound more, things like that. But I think I’m having a pretty good season so far, it’s still early. “As far as the MVP, I mentioned it because that’s really a goal of mine. I don’t go in to every game saying, ‘I want to me MVP.’ I’ve got to do what’s best for the team and we’ve got to win games if that’s going to be anywhere close to being a possibility. I try to focus on anything I can do to give us our best chance to win.”
May 19, 2022 | 8:48 pm EDT Update
Shams Charania: Sources: J. Cole is signing contract with the Scarborough Shooting Stars (@sss_cebl) in the Canadian Elite Basketball League, the rap star’s second consecutive year playing professionally. CEBL training camp began this week, with season opener on May 26.