It’s barely a quarter into the season and Russell Westbrook has quickly become talk of the 2016-17 so far.
It’s for the same reason he was one of the biggest topics of discussions last season — he’s accumulating triple-doubles at pace very rarely seen. In fact, after he posted his fourth consecutive game with a triple double, he’s now averaging a 10-10-10 for the season.
Actually, he’s averaging 31.2 points, 11.3 assists and 10.5 rebounds. In case you’re a casual NBA fan, that’s an awesome statline for one night — much less for an entire season.
With a triple double for the season, he’s now the first player to average a triple-double through the first 19 games of the NBA season since Oscar Robertson. Even though the Thunder, after losing Kevin Durant, are no longer one of the top teams in the league, Westbrook’s dominant play has led the team to a respectable .600 record (12 wins and 8 losses as of this post) and he’s an early bet for the league’s MVP award.
That’s because Westbrook doesn’t take a night off; when he’s on the court he’s always on: As he told Lesley McCaslin of FOX Sports Oklahoma after the Thunder’s most recent win: “Just keep going, man. I never stop.” said Westbrook “My mentality is to keep going, and my job for this team is to keep staying in attack mode…. one thing about me: I won’t ever stop.”
One of the knocks against Russell Westbrook when he came into the league was that he always played at one pace and took shots out of his team’s rhythm — that reputation followed him for the first several years in his career.
Only in the last few years, as he became more efficient and the Thunder started contending for the Championship, has that negative perception started to change. Keep in mind that it’s not Westbrook’s approach to the game that shifted, but the media’s attitude. Last season was a milestone in the perception of Westbrook as he carried the OKC Thunder while Durant was our for stretches and in the process tallied the 8th most triple doubles in one NBA season. Last season he had 18 triple doubles through 80 games. In just 20 games, Westbrook already has half that total — 9 triple doubles in 2016-17. If he can keep this up he’s on pace to match Robertson’s record of 41 triple doubles in one season.
Whatever the case, Westbrook’s non-stop, can’t stop, won’t stop do-it-all attitude is a great thing for the Oklahoma City Thunder.