The competition for the NBA's MVP award is as fierce as it's ever been, with most pundits believing it has come down to a two-man race. Arguments can certainly be made for LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard, but the seasons that James Harden and Russell Westbrook have put together simply stand out above the rest.
That performance might have sealed the deal in terms of Westbrook winning the MVP, but the award has never been solely about individual numbers, and there are other factors the voters will consider before turning in their ballots the day before the playoffs begin on April 15.
Here are five reasons that Westbrook shouldn't be named the NBA's MVP in 2017.
Westbrook's insane usage rate is responsible for his stats
Westbrook is going to obliterate the record for the highest usage rate in a single NBA season this year, which is an advanced statistic that takes into account shot attempts, free throws and turnovers to show the number of possessions a player uses per 40 minutes.
His insane 42.5 percent number will surpass the 38.7 percent mark set by Kobe Bryant in 2006 (when he averaged a career-best 35.4 points per game), and it's what's given Westbrook the opportunity to secure that triple-double average.
LeBron James is averaging 26.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.7 assists with a usage rate more than 12 percent lower, and James Harden is averaging 29.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 11.2 assists while his usage rate is lower than Westbrook's by more than seven percent.
Both of those MVP candidates would absolutely average a triple-double if they used as many of their team's possessions as Westbrook does.
Westbrook is intentionally padding his numbers with the help of his teammates
But if you're of the opinion that averaging a triple-double is a momentous enough accomplishment to earn Westbrook the MVP all by itself, this is a pretty compelling reason why you may want to reconsider.
Wins matter, and so does overall team success
FOX Sports' Nick Wright pointed out that the NBA's MVP award has gone to a player on a 50-win team that was a top-four playoff seed in each of the last 35 years. LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and James Harden all meet the criteria, while Westbrook and his sixth-seeded Thunder squad will ultimately fall short.
The Rockets, while making their case for Harden, mentioned that no team that finished lower than fourth in the league-wide standings has had an MVP-winner since 1997. The Thunder will finish the season in 10th place.
The award has traditionally gone to the best player on one of the league's top teams, and there are plenty of examples where the best player in the league didn't end up winning it due to a lack of team success -- including Oscar Robertson, who finished third in the MVP voting when he averaged a triple-double in 1962 on a 43-win team.
Westbrook's true shooting percentage is the lowest among MVP candidates
Westbrook is playing in his ninth NBA season, and his 42.4 percent shooting is the worst he's performed in that category since his second year in the league -- which looks even worse when you see that he's taking 24 shots per game, the most of his entire career.
True shooting percentage is an advanced metric that tells us what a player's shooting percentage would be if we accounted for free throws and 3-pointers, and those numbers paint an even dimmer picture of Westbrook when compared to the other candidates in the MVP race.
LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and James Harden all have true shooting percentages above 61, while Westbrook is at 55.3 percent.
James Harden has had a historic season, too
If Westbrook is your MVP pick because of his history-making season, we'd like to point out that James Harden is having a historic season, too. Here are some of his own eye-popping numbers, courtesy of the Rockets:
On pace to surpass 2,400 points and 900 assists. Nobody has done that in the last 40 years.
Averaging career highs with 29.2 points (2nd), 11.2 assists (1st) and 8.1 rebounds this season. Only Oscar Robertson averaged at least 28.0 ppg, 11.0 apg and 7.0 rpg in a single NBA season.
Averaging 29 points on fewer than 19 shots per game. Set to join Adrian Dantley as the only players in history to be that efficient.
Recorded 30+ points and 10+ assists in four straight games on three separate occasions this season. In the last 40 years, the rest of the NBA has combined for only one such occasion:Michael Jordan in April 1989.
Only player to score 2,000 points and assist on 2,000 points in NBA history.
Westbrook's season has been amazing -- but these numbers show that Harden's has been MVP-worthy, as well.
Westbrook will probably be the MVP
These are valid arguments against Westbrook winning the MVP, and there are positive arguments to be made in favor of three other worthy candidates.