Russell Westbrook has been unleashed. The chains are off and the one-man wrecking machine is re-writing the history books on a nightly basis.
As we approach the halfway mark of the season, Westbrook is averaging a triple double. Only one man in NBA history has achieved that feat over the course of an entire season. That being Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson in 1962.
Whether Westbrook can maintain his historic output remains to be seen, although the point guard out of UCLA is showing no signs of slowing down.
Which is hardly surprising, considering Westbrook knows no other way to play. He is full steam ahead, borderline out of control as he careens down the court with a bee line for the basket.
His raw, untamed athleticism is the stuff of nightmares for any defense, which is largely why the Thunder sit with a respectable 21-16 record, despite the loss of their former MVP, Kevin Durant.
This is Westbrook’s team now. He no longer has to play second fiddle to Durant, he is the captain of the ship.
Many experts felt that a ship with Westbrook at the helm would be destined for failure, although Westbrook is doing his best to prove the doubters wrong.
31.4 points. 10.5 rebounds. 10.3 assists. They are incredible numbers for anyone, let alone a 6’ 3” point guard.
He draws the best defender on a nightly basis and headlines every oppositions scouting report, yet game after game Westbrook continues to produce his absurd numbers.
Some may call it ball-hogging or stat-chasing, but in a Thunder team lacking shot creators, Westbrooks aggressiveness is crucial to his team’s success.
Despite his form, Westbrook still has a few chinks in his armour. His decision making, while improved, is still questionable at times, especially in crunch-time situations.
Westbrook leads the league in three-pointers attempted in crunch time (final five minutes of a game where the point difference is five points of fewer) with 32 attempts. Last season he had only 30 attempts over the course of 82 games.
If we were talking about Stephen Curry, this would not be a discussion point. However, Westbrook is a career 31% shooter from deep. Yet when the game is on the line, Westbrook regularly seems content to ignore his strengths and cast up fade-away, awkward threes that more than often don’t fall.
For an athlete that can get to the rim at will, Westbrook has a habit of making the big shots harder than they need to be.
Despite his flaws, Westbrook is still one of the most complete players the game has ever seen.
He is made for the big stage, born for the spotlight. Yet he now faces arguably the biggest dilemma of his career.
After being lauded for his loyalty, Westbrook is now stuck on a Thunder line-up with very little help.
If he continues his historic stat line he will likely win the MVP award. But the ultimate dream of winning a Championship will still be just out of reach.
Westbrook is the undeniable king of the triple double. But he is also a king without a coveted ring.
Westbrook has the talent to lead a team to the Finals and an elusive Championship, but only time will tell if he can turn statistics into success.