Mark Cuban is a smart man. He's also a tad on the controversial side as well. But whenever he speaks he garners the attention of many in the NBA. Or anywhere for that matter.
This year his frame of focus seems to be directed at Oklahoma City Thunder superstar guard Russell Westbrook. Earlier this season Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks sent gasps across the Association when he basically said that as Russell Westbrook was not a superstar yet despite averaging a triple double to start the season.
This was in December.
Lets fast forward to this past weekend.
Before the Mavericks win over the Thunder, Cuban -- who of course is never shy about providing words -- weighed in on the MVP race and whether his position has actually changed from December on Westbrook.
First -- when asked about who is the MVP at this point in the season Cuban said that it was "toss up" between Houston's James Harden, Cleveland's LeBron James and that even San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard deserved some recognition into the conversation.
When asked if Russell Westbrook was in the mix, Cuban bluntly said "He's not".
If anything Mark Cuban is consistent. Furthermore I don't necessarily disagree with him either.
Before I defend Cuban let me reiterate that Westbrook is having a historic season worthy of attention and that we have never been privy to experiencing since Oscar Robertson. Anytime a player is averaging a triple double this late into the year it deserves absolute praise. And yes -- I do think at the very least Westbrook is in the "conversation" -- by virtue of what a conversation means. Unfortunately given where the Thunder are in the standings I wouldn't vote for him as one of the top two or three players ranked in the discussion.
Cuban also alluded to having a 50 win benchmark that I myself have been saying for years on how we evaluate on voting on these matters. I am totally behind him on this. You have to win 50 games in a season to even be taken seriously as a top two or three candidate for the league's Most Valuable Player award. It's that simple for me.
Last player to actually win this award despite winning less than 50 games was Moses Malone in 1982.
Its been 35 years. The trend does not lie and furthermore this trend I totally concur agree with.
Its why Kobe Bryant even while averaging over 35 points a game in 2006 did not win the award over Steve Nash. That Kobe led Lakers team won only 45 games.
Is it fair? Yes and no actually. But I have always been in full agreement that the Most Valuable Award should translate in concert with both team success as well as individual accomplishments. Winning 50 games is a pretty fair barometer to reach to enter any kind of discussion.
Now should Westbrook and the Thunder go on a heater the final six weeks of this NBA season and end up winning 50 or more games -- we definitely have a conversation. In addition Mark Cuban may be eating crow in the process.
Till then my MVP rankings looks like this:
1. James Harden
2. Kawhi Leonard
3. LeBron James
4. Russell Westbrook
5. Isaiah Thomas
By the way, Kawhi Leonard has vaulted into the top two discussion. Besides when you have a 11 second sequence that plays out like this against a team you're most likely to play in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs in the Houston Rockets you deserve to.