Although Russell Westbrook’s streak of triple-doubles may have finally come to an end last week, it hasn’t changed the fact that he is in the midst of one of the best individual streaks in NBA history at a time when his team needs it the most.
With an infinite array of angry glares and finger holsters, Russ-diculous, since returning from All-Star break, has averaged an Oscar Robertson-esque 34.9 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 10.8 assists per game, while also leading the push for the final playoff seed in the West.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at five facts you should know about Westbrook’s ongoing superhuman statistical surge:
1. Westbrook Is the 3rd Player to Record 4 Triple-Doubles in a Row
As you may have already heard, Westbrook joins elite company in Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson as only the third player in modern NBA history to have four straight triple-doubles, and the first since Lebron James in 2009 to post triple-doubles in three straight games.
Magic accomplished the feat during the 1987 season averaging 28 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds over the four game stretch for the Lakers, while Jordan recorded his during a mind-blowing month in 1989 in which he recorded seven straight games with triple-doubles and 10 triple-doubles in an 11-game stretch.
In terms of comparison, Russell averaged the most points and rebounds during the stretch (Jordan averaged 30 points and 11 rebounds over the seven games) but Jordan shot over 50% from the field and added three more triple-doubles in his next four games.
For the sake of comparison:
Jordan: 30.6 points, 11 assists, 11.6 rebounds, 51% field goal percentage (over 7 games)
Magic: 28.3 points, 11.8 assists, 10.3 rebounds, 53% field goal percentage
Westbrook: 37 points, 10.5 assists, 13.5 rebounds, 41% field goal percentage
2. His Post All-Star Break Numbers Are Historic
Beyond simply posting triple-doubles in four consecutive games, Russell has begun pushing statistical boundaries in other ways as well.
For example, Westbrook’s usage percentage (which is the percentage of plays a player uses while on the floor) currently sits at 37.4%, meaning that if the season ended today Westbrook would have the 4th highest usage percentage over a season of all time.
In addition, since All-Star break, Westbrook is scoring 41 percent of his team’s points while on the floor and assisting on another 53.4% of his teammates points, meaning Westbrook has unsurprisingly been responsible for the most points in the league over that stretch.
3. Westbrook Is Officially an MVP Candidate
As a result of the aforementioned statistics and his growing highlight reel of plays like the one above, Westbrook now ranks 1st in points, 4th in assists, and 3rd in steals while maintaining a player efficiency rating of 30 (which only 6 other players in modern NBA history have maintained over a season) putting him right in the thick of the MVP race.
Delving a step even further into the case for a scowling Westbrook as MVP is his on/off courts splits, which help demonstrate his impact while on the court. When Westbrook is in the game the Thunder post an offensive rating of 111.2, which would rank first in the league, however when Westbrook sits the Thunder suddenly drop to 100.7, a number that would make them one of the worst in the league.
These team numbers are arguably more important to his MVP candidacy than his individual accomplishments, which leads us to the next point:
4. He’s Keeping the Thunder in the Playoff Race
The Thunder were already handicapped from a season start without its two best players, thereby facing an uphill battle to even get into the playoffs. So when Durant went down again with a fracture in his foot following the All-Star break it wasn’t too ridiculous to think that the Thunder might scrap this season and focus on next year.
Enter Westbrook’s ridiculous month, and the Thunder are right in the thick of the playoff race controlling their own destiny for the 8th seed, a spot Oklahoma City would have no chance of sniffing without Russell Westbrook.
If there’s a reason for fans in Oklahoma City to be optimistic it’s that Russ can hold down a playoff spot until his partner in crime, Durant, returns.
5. Westbrook Still Has More Season to Go
With an uncertain timetable for Kevin Durant’s return, the load will continue to fall on Russell Westbrook as the Thunder fight their way into the playoffs. While this may not be ideal for basketball fans in Oklahoma City, it’s been wildly entertaining for basketball fans everywhere else.
Taking his streak of three straight 40-point games into Toronto Sunday, the scariest part is how much better Westbrook has gotten as season’s gone on leading us to wonder just how much crazier these Russell Westbrook games can get.
Could he continue scoring 40 points a night until Durant returns?
Can he become the first player since David Robinson in 1994 to record a quadruple-double?
Will Westbrook dunk so ferociously, he murders an opposing center?
Honestly, anything’s in play at this point and the only thing that’s certain is it should be fun to watch.
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