Russell Westbrook became the first player since Oscar Robertson to average a triple double. We discuss.
Finish this sentence. Russell Westbrook’s history making season was….
C.J. Hampshire: Tremendous. The first player to average a triple double since Oscar. Just think about this. 55 seasons have come and gone and no one has ever done this. I don’t want to hear about he gets rebounds off of free throws or he uses the ball too much. No one has done what he has done. No one in 55 years. And he did it being the center object on a team without any creators, and mortgaged to the hilt.
Mallory Stith-Wheat: Doing the most with less and winning. Not winning like a contender. His usage rate is way too high but every night he competes and puts his team in the ball park to get a “W”. His will is what gets the team through these lulls they have when he hits the bench. And still the 6th seed and won 8 games less than James Harden who has a bunch of skilled scorers.
Julian Billick: What we thought it was going to be once Durant left. He was a guard rebounding like a forward while at the same time controlling the game, getting players shots and scoring on his own. He never tires, he is never worn down. All the other MVP candidates, Durant, LeBron, Curry, Harden, Leonard, all have All-Stars on their team. Russ doesn’t and he doesn’t seem to care.
Brendan Gillespie: Because he met the moment. Durant left him and dissed him in the process but Westbrook, aware the pressure was on him, exceeded all expectations, gives 110% every game even as he had to change roles. He is the most fascinating NBA player to watch play every night.
What about the fans booing Steven Adams last night for not shooting when Russ passed it?
Julian: I was booing too. What the hell? Who cares about the Suns? They are a lottery team. We wanted to see him get 10 assists and 42 triple doubles.
Mallory: And what was up with the Suns players not wanting Russ to get it on their watch. If only the Raptors had that much pride, Kobe may have had 60, not 81.
Brendan: Excuse me aren’t you his teammate? The funniest line of all was when he was asked post-game about trying for those two assists, what the f____ you want me to do, I was 6-25? Priceless response.
C.J. : Adams totally forget the moment but Russ didn’t. That’s why he’s my MVP.
Russ will win the MVP because….
C.J.: Tonight. History. Tying Oscar. If you make history and not some whack history about minutes or shots but three categories, then you deserve it.
Julian: 2 triple doubles in October. 7 in November. 7 in December. 8 in January. 6 in February. 9 in March. 2 in April. A triple double against every NBA team except the Blazers and Bulls. The best defenses, the Jazz, the Warriors, the Spurs could not stop him. And he only plays 34 minutes. Less minutes than James Harden, LeBron James, Jimmy Butler, Anthony Davis, Paul George, Giannis, DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Kyrie, C.J. McCollum, Bradley Beal, Damian Lillard, John Wall.
Mallory: It is damned hard to score like he scores on a team that doesn’t have that much offensive talent and then to get rebounds and to get teammates shots when everyone is trying to stop you. All the haters don’t get that part. He is the only Thunder that is worth stopping.
Brendan: Most Valuable fits him to a tee. No one has been more valuable. Take him off the Thunder and they are the Brooklyn Nets. He lost Durant so he had to prove something.
Give me your best hater argument. Why do most NBA players give him the MVP and most analysts say no?
Brendan: He is a one man show. It is easy to pile up the stats, that’s what the nerds say who hate the counting stats. But there is no metric for effort, fearlessness, carrying a team by yourself. They want to penalize him for Sam Presti’s deficiencies.
Mallory: NBA players know how tiring it is and how hard it is to get one triple double. 41 is a huge number. The energy he had to expend to do it is extraordinary and not human. I bet what he does on a nightly basis was just as tiring as Kobe’s 46 shots to get to 81. That was one game. Westbrook is doing it every night. Players respect his tenacity.
Brendan: Players in and out the league respect history and records. They know how special it is. How special you have to be to do it. Add to the mix a record as old as this one- everyone has heard it all their lives- no one has averaged a triple double since Oscar, not even the great Magic Johnson. Of course they are going to elevate that over anything else. The nerds are just crunching numbers. Ho-hum.
C.J.: Westbrook is an anomaly. You can’t stop what you know is coming. He has been the best rebounding guard the last 5 years. No one can keep him off the boards. You can’t stop what you don’t know how to stop because no one can match his energy and relentless drive and passion. There is no stat for that so the nerds are missing half of his game.
Westbrook aside, do you feel any different about the Thunder season?
Mallory: Yes. They are much better than I expected and all credit goes to Russ. He is making them relevant if not making them contenders. They don’t have the scoring talent needed and if he has an off night their playoff hopes are doomed.
Julian: I knew he was capable of this. It’s amazing what you are capable of when you feel you’ve been dissed. Regardless of Durant’s right to leave, the way he did it seems a little bit shady. Total disrespect. I don’t think Russ needs anyone to give him an edge but it just made him more committed to the task at hand. He’s breathing this season 24-7. And is almost at the finish line. Remember this team was not supposed to be in the playoffs.
C.J.: This is one of the great stories of the NBA season. I thought he’d be MVP in training camp. I didn’t think and I still don’t think they have enough talent to gut out two series and get to the Conference Finals. I actually think he needs to do a little less and allow Steven Adams to become a double-double guy. Having Taj may be a game changer though.
Brendan: Not really. He is much watch t.v. but the top teams in the league have depth and versatility, something the Thunder don’t have. They can be painful to watch when Russ is out the game. They need a second creator and a second scorer, someone who can get his own shot, beat his man off the dribble and finish through contact. The Thunder are in contract hell so they just have to squeeze the most out of what they have and Westbrook is the ideal person for that particular job.
photo via llananba