The MVP race may have its two favorites based on the respective starts of forward LeBron James and point guard Russell Westbrook with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Oklahoma City Thunder’s top talents representing the Eastern and Western Conference’s first NBA Players of the Week for the 2016-2017 season.
Both led their teams to perfect 3-0 starts with the Cavaliers and Thunder being among the six remaining unbeaten teams entering week No. 2.
This is the 54th Player of the Week honor for James, who is beginning his 14th season and potentially gunning for what would be his fifth MVP Award. He os also the first Cavaliers’ player to win the weekly award in the opening week of the season, which is hard to believe given the all-time great’s accomplishments. The Cavaliers, though, are 3-0 for the first time in either of James’ Cleveland tenures.
The team hadn’t won its first three since 2000-2001.
James averaged 21 points, 8.3 rebounds and 10 assists per game as a result of Cleveland’s defeats of the New York Knicks, Toronto Raptors and Orlando Magic while he memorably triple-doubled in the defending champions’ season-opening rout of New York. James scoring at least 10 points in each game extends his double-digit streak to 720 consecutive contests, which is the third-longest run in NBA history.
His triple-double was the first opening-night slate of its kind since Jason Kidd in 2006.
Perhaps a stronger candidate to win MVP, based on stats, Westbrook soared in his first week of games without Kevin Durant as a teammate. The soon-to-be 28-year-old dynamo is averaging a triple-double by a healthy margin, having managed 38.7 points, 12.3 rebounds and 11.7 assists per game. The Thunder have beaten the Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers this season with Westbrook triple-doubling in two of those three outings. He scored 51 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and dished out 10 assists to help Oklahoma City beat Phoenix and is on a torrid pace to start his ninth season.