Blogtable: Would Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook have earned MVPs in Oklahoma City?
Each week, we ask our scribes to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day.
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Former Oklahoma City Thunder teammates Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden could all have Kia MVP trophies after this season. That still could have happened if they had stayed together, right?
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Steve Aschburner: No, it wouldn’t have happened and this question raises a good point. In a league that has half as many superstars as it has franchises, it is a good thing when elite players seek out (or wind up on) their “own” teams and spread the talent around. That’s why Harden blossoming as an MVP candidate and future Hall of Famer in ways he might not have had he stayed with the Thunder has been a boost not just to the Houston Rockets, but also to the league. It’s why people are intrigued, for instance, about Klay Thompson’s ability to be an A-lister elsewhere rather than a third- or fourth-wheel with Golden State. It’s also why Durant joining the “1-percenter” Warriors irritated and annoyed so many. That said, we got teased with that original OKC3 in the 2012 Finals, then saw them pre-empted before they ever reached their potential. That, too, is something for which NBA fans root.
Tas Melas: More playoff success sticking together? Sure. More individual accolades? Not in today’s voting system. See: Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry taking votes from each other.
Shaun Powell: They wouldn’t have gotten three. Maybe two. Maybe Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook get the MVPs, with James Harden collecting a few Kia Sixth Man awards. All three would’ve been All-Stars virtually every season and my hunch says they’d have at least one championship by now. Yes, it’s hard to say for sure; so many unforeseen circumstances could’ve thrown them and OKC for a loop. Still, my reasoning: They all got along and respected each other during their brief time together. And winning titles would’ve kept them together.
John Schuhmann: Of course not. But it’s more interesting to wonder if the Thunder would have won a championship and if Durant would have stayed in Oklahoma City had they not traded Harden when they did.
Sekou Smith: No way. Absolutely not. Durant would have his trophy, but I don’t believe Westbrook would have gotten his without KD’s departure. I also don’t think Harden would have gotten to this point, where he looks like the clear favorite to win it this year. What an unbelievable player haul by the Thunder. GM Sam Presti deserves credit for nailing those lottery picks in those drafts. And kudos to all three players for maximizing their talents. But I cannot imagine a scenario where these guys could have all claimed MVP hardware if they’d never split up. The splintering of votes for three superstars would have squashed those dreams time and time again. As much as I’d have loved to see how log they could have lasted as a Big 3, I truly believe the league is better with all three of them in their current situations.
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