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DBB on 3: Resting players and the MVP race

We get into it about feelings on coaches resting star players and what increasingly is becoming a heated argument about MVP merit.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

In thinking of topics and questions for this edition of DBB on 3 I started down the usual avenues: “Is Reggie the bla bla bla we need as bla bla future bla?” “Is Drummond bla bla bla Kool Aid bla free throws?” I just couldn’t focus and bring myself to asking more of those questions so I turned to questions I’ve heard the various hosts of Sirius XM NBA Radio talk ad nauseum about recently and gauged thoughts on those.

Enjoy this moment of zen where DBB writers are not talking about Deeeeetroit Baaaasketbaaaallll.

1. What's your view on resting players? Should Adam Silver make a statement regardless of whether he is pro or con?

Michael Snyder (mophatt1): I have no problem with players resting. The goal is to win a championship not win a random game in March. If teams believe resting their players give them the best chance to win, they should do it. Shortening the season will never happen so this is the only logical option.

Ben Gulker: The NBA schedule is grueling. Teams should prioritize the health of their players. Unless Adam Silver is willing to do something about the physical burden of the NBA season - such as shortening it, or eliminating back-to-backs altogether - he has no business criticizing teams for doing what's best for the players. What's more, rested players make for higher quality and more entertaining basketball. Take just about any team in the league and look at their splits with one or more day of rest as proof.

Steve Hinson: The argument against resting players seems to be that fans of opposing teams buy tickets for when LeBron or whoever comes to town. Do teams really have obligations to opposing fans? No, that's asinine. As far as I'm aware, there's no good argument against teams resting their players.

Kevin Sawyer: Teams should be able to do what they want. I know the argument is that playoff contenders are impacted, but so long as there is no collusion, the impact is randomized. That said, I think teams underestimate the impact on their bottom line. If you go to a game and it sucks, you aren't likely to spend the money to go back.

Ken Wallace (revken): I think it's understandable that teams will need to rest older players some - especially when they have a back-to-back scheduled. It reduces the likelihood of injury, which could cause a key player to miss even more games. I think teams can self-regulate this practice.

Jacob Kuyvenhoven: I don't think resting players is good for the league necessarily, but it's the smart and logical thing for coaches and players to do. The problem is the schedule that borderline necessitates it, not the coaches and players doing the right thing in response. I think shortening the pre-season and starting the season earlier, giving more space between games, would be a good start.

Gabriel Frye-Behar: Teams should be able to play whatever rotation they want. The NBA regular season is long and dark and full of terrors, until it's shortened, or at least restructured, resting players is something top teams with aging vets are going to do. While it hurts the NBA's regular season product it makes the playoffs more competitive.

Justin Lambregtse: I don't have any problem with resting players. The ultimate goal is to win a Championship, and if resting keeps the players fresh for a playoff run, then teams should do it. I don't think Adam Silver needs to say anything about it.

Ryan Pravato (prava88): Coaches got to do what they got to do. Their jobs are on the line and they are paid to win games. It'll likely never happen, but there needs to be less games (about 66-70 would be perfect). With the situation now, what can Silver really say? He has already been flexible about it.

2. Should the fact that Lebron and Kawhi have been rested a few games affect their position in the MVP race?

Michael Snyder (mophatt1): Absolutely not.

Ben Gulker: Who knows? "Most Valuable Player" isn't defined well or even agreed upon by the people whose votes count. The voters can take any criteria into consideration they want, I suppose, and games played will probably count for some. If I were voting, no, it wouldn't factor in this season. Then again, if I were voting, neither LeBron or Kawhi would have my vote right now, more thoughts in a second.

Steve Hinson: Less that and more that their competition for the award have the chance to accumulate more impressive overall numbers. LeBron's 26/9/8 is extremely impressive, but compare his total numbers with Westbrook.

LBJ: 1582 points, 543 assists, 512 rebounds

RW: 2133 points, 688 assists, 707 rebounds

That's quite a gap.

Kevin Sawyer: Absolutely. If being at your peak in the playoffs requires that you rest during the regular season, you are less valuable than a player for whom that is not the case.

Ken Wallace (revken): I don't think resting a player occasionally should affect their standing in the MVP race.

Jacob Kuyvenhoven: I certainly don't think so, but the voters may use whatever criteria they want.

Gabriel Frye-Behar: Nah.

Justin Lambregtse: Absolutely not. If anything, it should help because you see how valuable they are by how their team plays when they rest.

Ryan Pravato (prava88): No, everyone still knows they are the best of the best.

3. Who right now make up your 1-3 in the MVP race? Do you see that changing in the last few games?

Michael Snyder (mophatt1): The answer is always LeBron but that won’t happen - 1. James Harden 2. Kawhi Leonard 3. Russell Westbrook

Ben Gulker: 1. Russell Westbrook. 2. Russell Westbrook. 3. Russell Westbrook. If Russ averages a triple double and doesn't win the MVP, then we ought to just scrap the MVP altogether. What he's doing is unprecedented in the modern NBA, and it would be a travesty if it's not recognized as such. If his averages dip below that, James Harden, LeBron James, and Kawhi Leonard would make up the rest of my list, but even so, Westbrook's individual performance has been truly historic.

Steve Hinson: 1. James Harden 2. Russell Westbrook 3. Kawhi Leonard. If the Rockets or Thunder struggle in the final dozen games or one of the guys gets hobbled, they could definitely shuffle. But I think these three are looking like the only legit candidates. Though part of me would like to give Rudy Gobert a vote for showing what the right way to be a dominant big man in today's league looks like.

Kevin Sawyer: Harden is the clear cut number 1 for me. Wins produced gives it to him. Team success gives it to him. The narrative (Dwight Howard leaving) plays in his favor. Rudy Gobert is my runner up. The only reason he's not in the discussion is that defense doesn't really factor into MVP voting. Westbrook, triple-double be damned, is a fairly distant third, for the reason he would be much more valuable to his team if he shot less.

Ken Wallace (revken): My ranking is as follows: #1 - James Harden; #2 - Kawhi Leonard; #3 - Russell Westbrook

Jacob Kuyvenhoven: Westbrook's on the top followed by Kawhi and Harden. I don't really necessarily even care that much about the triple double, Westbrook has just transformed his team's on/off in a way the other guys can't touch and the idea he's actually hurting the Thunder is pretty asinine. It's a bottom-five roster without him and they play at a top-four in the West level whenever he's out there. I'd be fine with giving it to a different player because of team performance but nobody else has had the effect Russ has this year.

Gabriel Frye-Behar: 1) Harden. 2) Westbrook. 3) Kawhi. This is super tough, as IMHE there's a good argument for each player. Kawhi is by far the best defender and if it was Game 7 in the Finals and I had to choose which player would be most likely to lead his team to a win I would probably pick him because of how many different ways he can impact the game. But for MVP, Harden gets my vote, his supporting cast is arguably just as blah as Westbrook's and Harden's efficiency is off the charts and he's just as good, if not better, a passer as Westbrook.

Justin Lambregtse: My 1-3 is Kawhi Leonard, Russell Westbrook, and LeBron James in that order. I don't really see this changing over the last few games.

Ryan Pravato (prava88): Westbrook, Harden and James. I'll put in two more names of Eastern conference guys to stick up for the conference -- John Wall and Isaiah Thomas.


What are your thoughts? Think resting players cheats the fans? Think that one candidate is head and shoulders above the rest? Please have at it in the comments below.