by Prabhdeep Dhami, sports editor
Arguably the best player in the NBA, Kawhi Leonard, has a strong case to win the MVP award. Two guys that are competing for the award is front runner Russell Westbrook who is averaging a triple-double and offensive superstar James Harden.
By the numbers, Westbrook and Harden should be the one to win, but when talking about most valuable, no one is more valued than Leonard. Fans confuse stats with value.
When talking about Kawhi, everyone raves about his defense. He has been the best defender in the NBA for the last two years, winning the Defensive Player of the Year award back to back and can possibly win one again this year becoming the only foward to win the award three times in a row.
Kawhi is also a better scorer than the two. Leonard averages 26 points a game, Harden averages 29 points a game and Westbrook averages 31 a game. However Leonard is more efficient than the two, having a better fg percentage (48%), three point percentage (38%) and free throw percentage (88%) while taking 17 shots a game to Harden’s (44%), (34%) and (84%) while taking 19 shots a game. Westbrook shoots (43%), (31%) and (82%) while taking 24 shots a game.
Fans argue that because Westbrook averages a triple-double and Harden being close to averaging a triple-double while leading the league in assist, they should win the MVP award. However that’s one sided. Nobody looks at the defensive side of the ball. Harden is known as one of the worst defenders in the league and Westbrook is a mediocre defender, having trouble covering top point guards, while Leonard is the best defender in the league. Westbrook and Harden also lead the league in turnovers, setting a new single season record. Harden is number one with 464 turnovers and Westbrook is second with 438 turnovers.
Leonard has the ability to average a triple-double but doesn’t because he plays in a restricted system.
He isn’t ball dominant like Harden and Westbrook either, where they need the ball in their hands at all times to make an impact on the game. Offensively and defensively, Kawhi Leonard is a better player than both Harden and Westbrook.
Leonard doesn’t get the credit he really deserved because he isn’t a flashy player like Westbrook or Harden. He doesn’t have his own shoe line and doesn’t have drama surrounding him where the media can get their stories.
To end this argument, Leonard is 7-2 against Harden, Westbrook and Lebron James this year. Leonard and the Spurs swept the season series against Cleveland Cavaliers (Lebrons team), beat the Houston Rockets, (Harden’s team) three games to one and beat the Oklahoma City Thunder (Westbrooks team) two games to one.
Leonard led his team, the San Antonio Spurs, to the second best record in the league at 61-21 while the Rockets, Thunder and Cavs are 55-27, 47-35 and 51-31 respectively.
“Kawhi Leonard is the best all around player in the league, in every category he is above average. The man has no flaw in his game,” senior Tydian Sylla said.
However fans argue that because of Westbrooks triple double he should win.
“Westbrook is averaging a triple double becoming the second player to do it so he should win the award,” senior Ronald Baretela said.
Kawhi looks to make his name known around the league as he takes out Harden and the Rockets in the Western Conference Semifinals and now faces the heavy favorites to win the NBA finals, Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.