Despite Russell Westbrook not caring about the stats himself, I am finding his season statistically fascinating.
As discussed in the month one check in article, Russell Westbrook has the opportunity to accomplish something statistically something that only one other person has achieved in the history of the NBA, average a triple double.
Along the way Westbrook is moving himself up the ladder for points and assists all time at a phenomenal rate, considering that he is topp 200 all time for points and top 100 all time for assists. He has also moved himself even further into the top ten for total career triple doubles.
I break down what he needs to do to create history as follows.
Westbrook needs to do nothing else on the season to average double figures in points. He is leading the league with 984 points at 31.7 points per game. As the season is only 82 game long, even if he were to play every game and not score another point he would be averaging 12.0 points per game. This was always going to be the easiest category for Westbrook to average double figures in.
After 31 games in the season, these 984 points have moved Westbrook up from 211th all time at the end of 2016 to 174th all time. With 51 more games to play, assuming that Westbrook stays healthy and that he keeps scoring at the same rate, he will be in or very close to the top 130 all time. This will mean that he has passed more than 80 of the top points scorers ever in the league.
The other scary thing is that Westbrook will enter the 2,000 point club in one season. If he keeps up at the current clip, it will be the 18th best scoring season ever. Yes, Westbrook puts up a lot of shots but when you have a respectable slash line of 43/34/82 and the team is winning, why not?
After the second month of the season, Westbrook is still second in assists behind James Harden. The gap, however, is closing. last month Harden had 12.6 assists per game, at the end of December that number has dipped to 11.9 per game. Westbrook’s on the other hand has gone up from 10.5 assists per game to 10.9 per game. The fact that the numbers for Westbrook are going up is a good sign, meaning that he is not being affected by the grind of the season yet and when Westbrook has high assist numbers, the Thunder usually win.
In December Westbrook even set the record for the most number of assists in a game by a Thunder player with 22 against the Phoenix Suns. Seriously, 22 assists. This has helped him to 339 for the year so far. From here until the end of the year, Westbrook needs to average only 9.4 assists per game to have the magical ten per game.
At the end of 2016 Westbrook was in 78th all time with 4,453 assists and 7.59 per game over his career. Incidentally this per game number was 19th on the all time list. Westbrook has moved into 66th place with 4,792 assists. Per game he has moved to a joint 18th on the all time list with Guy Rodgers with 7.75 per game.
During December, Westbrook stepped up his rebounding as well. He was averaging 9.8 for the month of November but now with the season having gone another month, Westbrook is averaging 10.5 per game on the season. This increase shows that Westbrook is getting back even more to help out.
Commentators like Sean Elliott say that it is easier to get the rebounding numbers for guards than it was for players like Oscar Roberston because the big bodies are on the outside shooting threes. Players like Magic Johnson had to fight the big centers for the rebounds. First point, Magic was 6-foot-9, not too far short of a center who usually stands 6-foot 10 to 7-foot-7. Michael Cage was one of the greatest rebounding players of the game. He was 6-ffot-9. Dennis Rodman was 6-foot-8. Russell Westbrook is 6-foot-3. Plus he is jumping over the big bodies with his athleticism.
Westbrook is sitting ninth on the season in total rebounds with 327 which means that he only has to get 493 more rebounds in 51 games at an average of 9.67. Given how the season is going, this is very possible.
Total Triple Doubles
In a new segment I am now including total triple doubles because once again, Westbrook is becoming historically significant. Westbrook was eighth all time at the start of the season with 37 and second active to the great LeBron James. Well, 31 games in he has 14 more triple doubles to his name, moving him to sixth all time with 51, passing Fat Lever and LeBron James to become the active leader in the category.
The next name on the list that Westbrook will cross of the list is fifth place man, Larry Bird who has 59 triple doubles. At the current rate, Westbrook will do it around game 50 in the season.I can’t see him getting to fourth this season as Wilt Chamberlain’s 78 is a little to far out of reach.
The other two players who could challenge for this piece of history are LeBron James and James Harden.
James Harden of the Houston Rockets has the incredible stat line. His 27.4 points is down from last month but is good enough., his 11.9 assists is also down but if he keeps these numbers up this will also not be an issue. He has increased his rebounds per game to 8.0 per game. To average the triple double he would need to average 11.3 rebounds per game over the remaining 51 games. Clint Capela being out for a while will help Harden with this number.
LeBron James has a stat line of 27.1 points per game, up from the early season number and as he has only played 27 games of a possible 29, has 53 games to 112 points at 2.1 per game. This will not be a problem His 8.5 assists are down. It is unlikely that he will average the 10.75 per game needed to get him back to double figures. His rebounding has also dropped to 7.9 per game and he will need to average 11.1 per game from here on out to get this back to double figures. With Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson on the team I doubt that he will do this.