5. ESPN leaves Russell Westbrook off preseason MVP list
While ESPN was compiling their preseason NBA predictions, they made a rather interesting prediction regarding the potential MVP award. The four-letter network compiled a list of ten candidates who they thought would be most likely to win the award, and Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook was not on the list at all.
On the surface this may seem like a valid preseason take, because we didn’t know how Russell Westbrook and James Harden were going to mesh due to each of their playing styles but when is the last time Russ wasn’t a top-10 finalist? The answer is during the 2013-14 season, so why would that all of a sudden stop now?
ESPN couldn’t have been any more erroneous, as Russ has scored 20+ points for 26 games, which is a personal milestone. On top of that, Russ has quietly scored 30+ points in 12 of the last 14 games, and was a big reason why the Rockets decided to switch to the small-ball lineup.
Russ is currently tied for seventh in the league in scoring, as he’s averaging 27.2 points per game, which has been more than most would have imagined. He’s also averaging 7.2 assists per game, which are the tenth most assist numbers in the league as well.
Not only that, but Russ is shooting 46.3 percent from the field, which is a career-high. Fortunately for ESPN, at least one of their basketball experts has taken notice of Russ’s MVP-level play.
I think it’s safe to Say that the top 3 point guards in the league are…
Dame, Russ and Luka in any order!!!
FYI Bron is a Small Forward that plays PG. Yes he leads the league in assist at the age of 75 which is insane to me!
— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) February 12, 2020
Keep in mind who all Perkins mentions with Russ: Damian Lillard, and Luka Doncic, who are each legitimate MVP selections at the halfway point of the season. It’s safe to say Russell Westbrook will definitely finish within the top-10 on the MVP ballot.
Next: No. 4