What had been known for months was made official Monday night when Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook was named NBA MVP, beating out Rockets guard James Harden.
Westbrook finished with 69-of-101 first place votes and 888 points, while Harden finished with 22 first place votes, 69 second place votes and 753 points, appearing on every ballot. Only 10 voters had Harden out of the top two on their ballot, while Westbrook also appeared on every ballot, appeared outside the top two on 15. Nobody voted either player outside the top 3.
In his eighth NBA season, Harden averaged a career-high in points (29.1), rebounds (8.1), and assists (11.2) per game. He led the NBA in assists in his first season under coach Mike D’Antoni, with 22 triple-doubles, becoming the first player in NBA history with 2,000 points, 600 rebounds, and 900 assists in a season, and won eight more games than Westbrook.
Without Kevin Durant, Westbrook finished with 42 triple-doubles and became the first player since Oscar Robertson in 1962 to average a triple-double for the season.
Kawhi Leonard, Lebron James, and Isaiah Thomas rounded out the top 5. The second place finish is Harden’s second in three years. He lost out to Stephen Curry in 2015.