The race for NBA MVP is heating up. Many have been debating over who should earn top honors for the 2016-17 NBA regular season. The consensus seems to be that James Harden of the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook are neck-and-neck coming down to the wire.
Kobe Bryant, who won only one NBA MVP award during his 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, chimed in on the MVP debate recently during an appearance on ESPN’s NBA Countdown. Bryant thinks we may see a historic result for the regular-season award.
“We might see our first co-MVPs this year,” said Bryant.
Co-MVPs has never happened in the NBA. There have been controversial results over the years when it comes to MVP voting. Plenty of deserving players either never won the award or were passed over on more than one occasion. Lakers legends Shaquille O’Neal and Bryant winning the award only once during their careers is a perfect example.
Back in 1995, Detroit Pistons breakout star Grant Hill and up-and-comer Jason Kidd of the Dallas Mavericks earned co-Rookie of the Year honors. Both players were deserving and considering how their careers panned out; it seems as though it makes sense in retrospect.
As for Harden and Westbrook, the two former teammates are having incredible seasons. Westbrook, who is now the undisputed leader of the Thunder in the wake of Kevin Durant’s departure, could finish the season averaging a triple-double. Harden isn’t far off with the face of the Rockets only lacking in the rebounds department being two shy of averaging double digits in that category (8.0).
One case that is being made for Harden over Westbrook in this MVP race is the fact that he has his team in legitimate title contender in the Western Conference. Houston has clinched a playoff spot and is currently in the third seed in the West with a record of 51-22.
The Thunder, however, is currently the sixth seed in the conference while trying to hold off the Memphis Grizzlies who are two games back of Westbrook’s squad. Although Harden has the better team at this point, both players make a strong case for MVP, and it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that co-MVPs could be named as Kobe suggested.