Los Angeles Clippers at Oklahoma City Thunder
Chesapeake Energy Arena
10:00 a.m. PST
February 23, 2014
1. True or false: Kevin Durant is the MVP right now.
Fred Katz, (@FredKatz): False. Durant’s recent hot streak has been nothing short of remarkable, but let’s not fall victim to recency bias. As efficient as Durant is, a “coasting” LeBron James still leads the NBA in true shooting percentage and is the superior defender. It may be boring after all these years, and Durant may have closed the gap some, but LeBron is still the deserving MVP.
Andrew Han, (@andrewthehan): True? I am truly not a fan of the snapshot trophy, where season awards come with the qualifier “right now.” Paul George was the MVP the first 1.5 months of the season. LeBron James was the MVP shortly thereafter. Now Durant is the en vogue MVP. Except James has recently started to come along.
2. Are Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook the two best point guards in the NBA?
Katz: Yes. Point guard is the league’s deepest position, so this may be a tougher question than it seems. But if we consider Paul as the best to be postulate and not theory, you probably won’t find any other current point guard in the NBA who can affect the game on both sides of the ball as much as a healthy Westbrook.
Han: In a vacuum, injury free, Chris Paul is certainly the best point guard. And a case can be made for Westbrook. But the margin between Westbrook and some other point guards with elite skills comes down to a matter of preference. Some people prefer Derrick Rose (a similar player to Westbrook). Others like Curry’s shooting. Still others prefer the pedigree of Tony Parker. Subjectivity!
3. True or false: The Thunder are the best team in the NBA.
Katz: True. Oklahoma City is playing as well as any team in the league right now, and the return of Russell Westbrook only propels it a step further. Still, though, that could change. Miami is the two-time defending champs and happens to have that guy named LeBron, and teams like Indiana and San Antonio are just barely trailing the league’s best (if they’re even doing that).
Han: Again, this is a matter of preference. But let’s look at the objective elements: the Thunder are tied for first in the standings with Indiana, but they’re second point differential. If “best” suggests most likely to win the title, then any team in the West has a much more difficult path to the Finals.