I know that I have written about Russell Westbrook averaging a triple double. I actually do not care if he does or he does not. I just want what Russ wants, Oklahoma City Thunder wins.
Russell Westbrook is a special talent. He has the opportunity and ability to do what only one other person in the NBA has ever done before. Average a triple double. Oscar Robertson, not a bad player to be put alongside of in the history of the NBA. 55 years ago Robertson showed us that it is posible to average double figures in three statistical categories. Possible, not probable.
Naturally, now that Westbrook has the chance to be the second person in history to do this, the media are all over it. It is almost as big of a story as the 73-9 Golden State Warriors of last year. The problem? Westbrook does not care if he manages to accomplish this feat. He did not care that he won the scoring title two years ago. Why? Because all Westbrook cares about is winning basketball games for his franchise, the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Westbrook had a mere seven straight triple doubles leading up to the Portland game, seven. A feat not match since the great Michael Jordan did it close to 20 years ago. So, let me put this into perspective, Westbrook is achieving something that only Oscar Robertson has done in history and along the way matched something that Michael Jordan has done. That is pretty special.
However, as I said earlier, Westbrook does not care, he wants to win. The record of the Thunder is 26-3 when Westbrook collects a triple double in the last 29 times that he has done it. Surely that means that there is some good in letting him do his thing.
It is a little unfortunate for Westbrook that he has been judged as a box score stat stuffer. Twitter explodes when he collects the last assist or rebound, sometimes saying that he only did it to keep the streak going or to keep the averages up there. Word to the wise, Westbrook cares about winning. If he collected ten rebounds, it is because he used his speed and athleticism to track them down. If he gave out the tenth assist, it is because he found a teammate in a better position to score and help the team win. I have never heard him utter the words KI want to average a triple double. I have heard him say that he wants to help his ball club win though.
Like it or not, this team lost a lot in the off season. At the time they lost the third greatest scorer of all time in points per game in Kevin Durant. They lost one of the best rim protectors that the NBA will see for a long time in Serge Ibaka. Both these players collected in excess of 12 rebounds per game combined. They have been replaced by a rookie in Domantas Sabonis and several role players. Yes the second top Thunder scorer is Victor Oladipo who has shored up the perimeter defense but that does not help inside.
Westbrook, like the superstar that he is, is shouldering as much of the load as he can, hence the amazing averages. He is leading the NBA in scoring, he is second in assists and he is top ten in rebounds, as a point guard.
The Phoenix game sums Westbrook up for me. The Thunder stank against the Portland Trail Blazers and Utah Jazz, both games were played without Oladipo and the Thunder were just no good. They looked positively lost on the offensive end without Westbrook on the court.
Against Phoenix, something changed, and let me tell you what that is. Westbrook got his team involved in the game, he got them scoring. With five minutes left in the first half Westbrook had four points, two rebounds and nine assists. The Thunder were up by 14 at this point. The half ended with Westbrook having six points, on 3-of-5 shooting, six rebounds and twelve assists. I am sure that the media will somehow twist that to mean that he is so close to averaging ten points a game that he wants to make sure that his assist and rebound numbers are high for the rest of the year.
This club is sitting seventh in the Western conference right now, four games above the .500 mark. Portland are in eighth, two games below the .500 mark. There are seven new players on the Thunder roster this season and the first choice back up point guard is sitting out injured, yet to play a game. If the Thunder keep this pace up, they are on pace for 50 wins. What was Mark Cubans definition of a superstar?