It was the season of rest and the triple-double. It was the season of Russell Westbrook and James Harden, who missed just one game each in their pursuit of round numbers in points, rebounds and assists.
When Warriors coach Steve Kerr rested Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala in a nationally televised game on March 11 and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich rested Kawhi Leonard in the same game, Westbrook had 33 points, 11 rebounds and 14 assists as the Thunder beat the Utah Jazz. The following night, Harden had 38 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists as the Rockets beat the Cleveland Cavaliers.
When Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue rested LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love in a nationally televised game against the Clippers on March 18, Westbrook had 28 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists as the Thunder beat the Sacramento Kings. Harden had 40 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists as the Rockets beat the Denver Nuggets.
When NBA commissioner Adam Silver sent a memo to team owners two days later, calling the practice of resting star players “an extremely significant issue for our league” and warning of “significant penalties” for teams that don’t abide by the league’s standing rules for providing “notice to the league, their opponent, and the media immediately upon a determination that a player will not participate in a game due to rest,” Westbrook had 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, playing his fourth game in seven days in a loss to the Warriors. Harden had 39 points, seven rebounds and 11 assists in another win over the Nuggets, playing his fourth game in six days.
“I’ll rest when I’m done,” Harden said.
Last Sunday, a day famous for rest, Westbrook posted his 42nd triple-double — 50 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists — breaking Oscar Robertson’s single-season record. On Wednesday, in the last game of season, with his team’s No. 3 playoff seed secure, Harden posted his 22nd triple-double: 27 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists.
The league rested. Russell Westbrook and James Harden played.
Westbrook was the first player since Robertson to average a triple-double: 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, 10.4 assists. Harden averaged 29.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 11.2 assists.
Westbrook led the league in scoring. Harden led the league in assists.
Westbrook averaged 2.6 more rebounds than Harden, but he led the league in uncontested rebounds — a function of his teammates letting him grab the easiest ones, like when an opponent misses a free throw.
Most Valuable Player | Russell Westbrook, Thunder. 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, 10.4 assists, 45.9 2-point shooting, 34.3 3-point shooting, 84.5 free throw shooting, 30.6 PER, 6.0 RPM. Age  Oklahoma City was 33-9 when he had a triple-double, 14-26 when he didn’t.
2. James Harden, Rockets
3. LeBron James, Cavaliers
4. Kawhi Leonard, Spurs
5. Stephen Curry, Warriors
Teammate of the Year | James Harden, Rockets. 29.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, 11.2 assists, 53.0 2-point shooting, 34.7 3-point shooting, 84.7 free throw shooting, 27.3 PER, 4.8 RPM. Age  After “the worst year of his life,” Harden dumped Khloe Kardashian and led the league in assists. He was also first in win shares (15.0).
Coach of the Year | Mike D’Antoni, Rockets. 55-27. A true visionary. He moved James Harden to point guard and surrounded him with 3-point shooters, producing the 10th-best offense of all time and breaking the record for 3-pointers.
2. Quin Snyder, Jazz
3. Brad Stevens, Celtics
Scott Brooks, Wizards
Jason Kidd, Bucks
Steve Kerr, Warriors
Gregg Popovich, Spurs
Dwane Casey, Raptors
If coaching is more than multiple offenses and defenses, more than substitution patterns and the juggling of personalities, if coaching is also acting as a team’s North Star, then Gregg Popovich, Steve Kerr and Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy deserve special recognition for speaking truth to power in the days following the election of President Trump.
Rookie of the Year | Malcolm Brogdon, Bucks. 10.2 points, 2.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 48.0 2-point shooting, 40.4 3-point shooting, 86.5 free throw shooting, 14.9 PER. Age  Brogdon was league average in 1,982 minutes, Joel Embiid excellent in 786 minutes. Brogdon’s season is the higher achievement.
2. Dario Saric, 76ers
3. Willy Hernangomez, Knicks
In a dead heat with 2013-14 for the worst rookie class of all time.
Defensive Player of the Year | Rudy Gobert, Jazz. 2.6 blocks, 6.0 Defensive RPM. Age  The Stifle Tower, The French Rejection and The Gobert Report was first in blocks and Defensive RPM for the No. 3 defensive team in the league.
All-Defensive first team
Draymond Green, Warriors
Kawhi Leonard, Spurs
Rudy Gobert, Jazz
Chris Paul, Clippers
Tony Allen, Grizzlies
All-Defensive second team
Robert Covington, 76ers
Paul Millsap, Hawks
Anthony Davis, Pelicans
Danny Green, Spurs
Patrick Beverly, Rockets
Sixth Man Award | Andre Iguodala, Warriors. 7.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 65.1 2-point shooting, 36.2, 3-point shooting, 70.6 free throw shooting, 14.3 PER, 3.6 RPM. Age  No weaknesses. Defends the other team’s best perimeter player. First in assist-to-turnover ratio: 262 assists and 58 turnovers. 22nd in Real Plus-Minus. His best free throw percentage in seven seasons.
Iguodala called the award “affirmative action” before last season, but if he wins it for the first time this season, he promises to exploit it wisely: “We’re going to pimp this for free agency. That’s what we going to do. You got to try to take the good out of things. I’m always trying to be devil’s advocate, trying to figure out what’s wrong with it and try to perfect everything that I don’t see the upside. So I think it’s kind of cool, but I won’t be crazy excited.”
Andre Iguodala, Warriors
Eric Gordon, Rockets
Lou Williams, Lakers-Rockets
James Johnson, Heat
Greg Monroe, Bucks
Patty Mills, Spurs
Enes Kanter, Thunder
Forward | LeBron James, Cavaliers. 26.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, 8.7 assists, 61.1 2-point shooting, 36.3 3-point shooting, 67.4 free throw shooting, 27.0 PER, 7.3 RPM. Age  Reached career-highs in rebounding and assists and a career-low in free throw percentage in his 14th season. Third in triple-doubles (13). Played in the last six NBA Finals, then led the league in minutes (37.8) this season.
Forward | Kawhi Leonard, Spurs. 25.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 52.9 2-point shooting, 38.1 3-point shooting, 88.0 free throw shooting, 27.5 PER, 6.1 RPM. Age  Reached superstardom. The only MVP candidate with no weaknesses. His defense was down a notch, probably because he had more responsibilities on offense.
Center | Rudy Gobert, Jazz. 14.0 points, 12.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 66.4 2-point shooting, 65.3 free throw shooting, 2.6 blocks, 23.3 PER, 6.7 RPM. Age  First in true shooting percentage (.683).
Guard | Russell Westbrook, Thunder. 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, 10.4 assists, 45.9 2-point shooting, 34.3 3-point shooting, 84.5 free throw shooting, 30.6 PER, 6.0 RPM. Age  Every adjustment made for pace or minutes or era makes his triple-double season even more impressive. First in PER (30.6) and usage percentage (41.7).
Guard | James Harden, Rockets. 29.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, 11.2 assists, 53.0 2-point shooting, 34.7 3-point shooting, 84.7 free throw shooting, 27.3 PER, 4.8 RPM. Age  First in assists and turnovers, but Houston’s offense is high-risk, high-reward. He’s the best long-range passer in the league. First in free throws and free throw attempts for the third straight season, and he gets fouled on 3-pointers more than any other team.
Forward | Jimmy Butler, Bulls. 23.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 47.7 2-point shooting, 36.7 3-point shooting, 86.5 free throw shooting, 25.1 PER, 7.1 RPM. Age  A brilliant two-way player who gets better every season. He is Kawhi Leonard if Kawhi Leonard played for a mediocre franchise that can’t get out of its own way.
Forward | Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks. 22.9 points, 8.7 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 56.4 2-point shooting, 77.0 free throw shooting, 26.0 PER, 4.2 RPM. Age  Plays all five positions and a few new ones. Just the fifth player to lead his team in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks.
Center | Anthony Davis, Pelicans. 28.0 points, 11.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 52.4 2-point shooting, 80.2 free throw shooting, 2.2 blocks, 27.5 PER, 4.4 RPM. Age  Played a career-high 75 games.
Point guard | Stephen Curry, Warriors. 25.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 6.6 assists, 53.7 2-point shooting, 41.1 3-point shooting, 89.8 free throw shooting, 24.7 PER, 7.1 RPM. Age  Still the best player on the best team. Still an MVP candidate. First in 3-pointers and 3-point attempts for the fifth straight season.
Point guard | John Wall, Wizards. 23.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, 10.7 assists, 48.0 2-point shooting, 32.7 3-point shooting, 80.1 free throw shooting, 2.1 steals, 23.3 PER, 2.6 RPM. Age  The Raleigh native led the Wizards to their best season since 1979.
Forward | Kevin Durant, Warriors. 25.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 60.8 2-point shooting, 37.5 3-point shooting, 87.5 free throw shooting, 27.6 PER, 5.6 RPM. Age  First in true shooting percentage among perimeter players (.651). Missed 20 games, 19 with a sprained MCL. The Warriors were 51-11 with him, 16-4 without him.
Forward | Draymond Green, Warriors. 10.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 49.4 2-point shooting, 30.8 3-point shooting, 70.9 free throw shooting, 2.0 steals, 16.5 PER, 6.4 RPM. Age  Advanced metrics have helped him become lauded as a great player. Green barely averaged double figures in scoring and shot poorly, but his positives are big. He leads the second-best offense of all time in assists, and he’s the second-best defensive player in the league, guarding all five positions.
Center | Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves. 25.1 points, 12.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 58.2 2-point shooting, 36.7 3-point shooting, 83.2 free throw shooting, 26.0 PER, 2.1 RPM. Age  First player with 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 100 3-pointers in a season. Hasn’t missed a game in two seasons.
Best seasons, Age 21
1. Shaquille O’Neal, 1993-94
2. Anthony Davis, 2014-15
3. LeBron James, 2005-06
4. Kevin Durant, 2009-10
5. Michael Jordan, 1984-85
6. Karl-Anthony Towns, 2016-17
7. Tracy McGrady, 2000-01
8. Tim Duncan, 1997-98
9. Chris Bosh, 2005-06
10. Adrian Dantley, 1977-78
Point guard | Chris Paul, Clippers. 18.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, 9.2 assists, 51.8 2-point shooting, 41.1 3-point shooting, 89.2 free throw shooting, 26.2 PER, 8.1 RPM. Age  First in Real Plus-Minus. Missed 21 games, 14 with an injured left thumb. The Clippers were 43-18 with him, 8-13 without him.
Point guard | Isaiah Thomas, Celtics. 28.9 points, 2.7 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 52.8 2-point shooting, 37.9 3-point shooting, 90.9 free throw shooting, 26.5 PER, 1.8 RPM. Age  The fifth-best offensive player in the league and the DFL worst defensive player. An expert at using the rim to outsmart tall defenders.
Best seasons, players under 6 feet
1. Isaiah Thomas, 2016-17
2. Terrell Brandon, 1995-96
3. Dana Barros, 1994-95
4. Terrell Brandon, 1996-97
5. Calvin Murphy, 1973-74 or 1975-76
Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers
Kyle Lowry, Raptors
DeMarcus Cousins, Kings-Pelicans
DeAndre Jordan, Clippers
Nikola Jokic, Nuggets
Gordon Hayward, Jazz
Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers
Mike Conley, Grizzlies
Paul George, Pacers
DeMar DeRozan, Raptors
Kemba Walker, Hornets
Best decision-maker | Chris Paul, Clippers
2. John Wall, Wizards. 3. Ricky Rubio, Timberwolves. 4. James Harden, Rockets. 5. Jeff Teague, Pacers. 6. Russell Westbrook, Thunder. 7. Draymond Green, Warriors.
Best all-around shooter | Stephen Curry, Warriors
2. C.J. McCollum, Trail Blazers. 3. Kevin Durant, Warriors. 4. Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers. 5. Klay Thompson, Warriors. 6. Isaiah Thomas, Celtics. 7. Chris Paul, Clippers.
Best backcourt | Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, Warriors
2. John Wall and Bradley Beal, Wizards. 3. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, Raptors. 4. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, Trail Blazers.