Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has taken issue with the voting for this year’s NBA MVP award, given to Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook over Rockets guard James Harden, citing inconsistencies in the criteria that sportswriters use to decide the vote.
“We thought James was the MVP, but there were a bunch of very good, deserving candidates,” he said in an interview with Ben Golliver of SI.com. “I didn’t like how a different MVP criteria was used this year, compared to the last 55 years, to fit more of a marketing slogan. People thought a different criteria for selecting the MVP this year was the way to go.”
Morey added: “I don’t know if this is a good process. The ones that are decided by players or executives or media, they all have their strengths and weaknesses. I honestly don’t think there’s a good process. You could argue for eliminating the awards altogether. I don’t really see a good way to do it that doesn’t have major issues. I like clean answers. If there’s not going to be a set criteria and there’s going to be issues with how it’s structured, for me it might be better to not have it.”
To be fair to Morey, his argument seems to be centered on the idea that winning was important criteria for voters in the past but was dismissed this year. Harden, for instance, led the Rockets to 55 wins, while fellow finalist Kawhi Leonard helped the Spurs accumulate 61 victories.
Westbrook’s Thunder, on the other hand, put up 47 wins.
Morey suggested that players like Harden or his new teammate, Chris Paul, may have a tough time gaining consideration in the future as well.
“Given that the criteria seems to be shifting away from winning, I would guess that [adding Paul] probably doesn’t help anyone’s chances on our team. That said, I don’t think anybody really cares [going forward],” Morey said. “James definitely cared and I think we all cared [about the 2017 MVP]. But we’ve moved on since the award isn’t focused on winning anymore. Let’s just win and not worry about it.”
Westbrook presented a compelling case to MVP voters, of course, becoming the first player to average a triple-double for a season since Oscar Robertson in the 1961-62 campaign. But Morey has hinted that he feels some of those stats may have held little value:
It’s an interesting debate, especially since everybody seems to have a different concept of what value represents. The general compromise seems to be voting for the player who had the greatest impact on a good team, a subjective concept itself, while others believe that the league’s best player—aka LeBron James—is always the league’s most valuable player.
That makes the MVP debate vibrant each year, though it also means there will likely never be a definitive set of criteria for determining the winner, to the chagrin of Morey.
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