Around the Hill: Who is the Best Player in the NBA?

David Minster, Maroon-News Staff

Sorry Steph Curry fans, but Russell Westbrook is the best player in the NBA at the moment. Westbrook’s athleticism puts him above the rest of the league. He’s quick, has a huge vertical and finishes dunks so hard that he has no competition when he’s driving toward the hoop. Statistically, Westbrook is doing much better than Curry. Curry (30.3 PPG as of Tuesday, January 26) averages more points than Westbrook (23.9 PPG) and is a much better three-point shooter, but Westrbook dominates every other category. He averages three more assists, two more rebounds and 0.4 more steals than Curry, showing his prowess on the defensive end as well. One of Westbrook’s greatest skills is his ability to get double-doubles. This season, Westbrook is second in the NBA with 28 double-doubles, whereas LeBron James (15) and Curry (9) only have 24 combined double-doubles. Westrbook also has five triple-doubles, while Curry has two and LeBron has none. From a team standpoint, Westbrook is more important than Curry. Westbrook is first in Wins Above Replacement (WAR), which measures a player’s importance and contributions to his team, with Curry in second and LeBron in fourth. Curry’s Golden State Warriors are tearing up the league and have a better record than Westbrook’s Oklahoma City Thunder. The Warriors have greater team depth than the Thunder, keeping them in games down the stretch. The lack of depth on the Thunder just gives Westbrook more time on the floor to prove himself as the NBA’s best player. With former MVP Kevin Durant by his side, Westbrook seems to be making a case for MVP this season if he keeps these incredible numbers and leads his team deep into the playoffs.

Reed Schultz, Maroon-News Staff

 As hard as it is to admit, LeBron James’ reign as “The King” and best player in the NBA is officially over. Has LeBron lost a step or has his game declined? I certainly don’t believe it has. He is continuing to produce incredible numbers by anyone’s standards, and is undoubtedly the best player to come into the NBA in the last 10 years. He is a freight train that is nearly unstoppable. He has the ability to defend all five positions, shoot the three pointer, and run the point even at 6’8”. His pure athleticism and physical dominance hasn’t been seen since the likes of Michael Jordan. With all this being said, I believe that Stephen Curry is currently the best and most valuable player in the NBA. Once considered only a “three-point shooter” and too small and skinny, Curry has proven the doubters wrong. He has become an all-around great offensive and defensive player. He leads the league with 30 points per game and is shooting 51 percent from the field. His shooting percentage is truly amazing when you consider all the players with a better percentage are either centers or power forwards. His shots come from all over the court, including the numerous half court shots he has made. LeBron is averaging 25 PPG, 7 RPG, and 6 APG, while Curry is averaging 30, 5 and 6.6. Not only are Curry’s statistics better, but his team the Golden State Warriors have the best record in the league. I believe that both Curry and LeBron have great supporting casts on their respective teams, but the fact that the Warriors are clearly the best team in the NBA is another reason why I believe Curry is the MVP and best player in the NBA.

Ian Beck, Maroon-News Staff

Now that the middle of the NBA season is here, the best player so far must be chosen. That player is Stephen Curry. First off, in comparison to the other elite point guards in the league, Steph is far and away the best. Curry is currently averaging 30 points per game, which is six more than any other point guard in the league this season. On top of that, he is shooting a jaw-dropping 51 percent from the field and 45 percent from three-point range. Compared to other non-PG players, his player efficiency rating is 32.5, which is 5.5 points better than LeBron and six ahead of Kawhi Leonard. As a result, it is hard to put Kawhi, LeBron or any other player ahead of Steph given the dominance that he has shown at his own position or in comparison to others. The next criterion is his season’s historical significance. This season, Stephen Curry is on pace to make over 400 three pointers, which would break the previous record by over 100 threes. It is hard to argue that he is not the best player in the league this season, given that no other shooter in league history has even come close to the level of play that Steph is currently performing at. There is a reason why his Warriors are constantly being compared to the 95-96 Bulls. They are the only other team that has ever shown the same level of excellence over this long a span. Steph Curry may be the MVP so far this season, but if he continues to play the way he is playing, we could be seeing one of the greatest individual seasons by a player ever.