It’s more than just triple-double’s, Russell Westbrook changes the game in more ways than one.
Yes, Westbrook is leading the NBA this season with 34 triple-doubles. Yes, he is averaging a triple-double per game this season, putting up 31.7 points, 10.5 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game. But Westbrook’s leadership on the court is what has propelled the Oklahoma City Thunder into a solidified playoff contender in the loaded Western Conference.
Westbrook is to the Thunder what LeBron James is to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Not to compare the game of the two, but each franchise goes as far as their superstar takes them. We all remember how putrid the Cavaliers were without James, a small sample that can contribute to that would be that the Cavaliers are 0-7 without James since his return in 2015, they’re 0-4 this season when James does not play. Westbrook has played in every game this season and when he records a triple-double, the Thunder are 28-6, another impressive stat contributing to his MVP campaign. For the season, when Westbrook is on the bench, the Thunder have a negative offensive rating, when on the floor they’re plus 10.8 in that category.
Westbrook’s triple-double accumulation has received mixed reception by peers and NBA experts this entire season. Some have come to the conclusion that Westbrook is padding his stats because their record is not superior. Others look at his teammates and figure out why Westbrook has become a “do it yourself” pioneer. My question is, what else do you want from the kid? Westbrook has faced multiple adversities over the course of the season and hasn’t strayed away at any possibility. He’s been without Durant for the entire season and faced him twice in hostile environments, he lost Enes Kanter for a large portion of the season due to an arm injury, and he’s had beef with Mark Cuban of the Mavericks, Steph Curry and Durant. But one thing remains the same, Westbrook always stays on his game, through the good times and the bad.
Westbrook has been able to maintain a laser focus on keeping the Thunder in contention and he has done so through expressing his leadership, on and off the court. He doesn’t bite into the headlines or who is saying what about them, he just wants to play ball, go hard and of course win. It will be a tough road for the Thunder in the playoffs, especially in the rugged Western Conference with all roads leading to the Golden State Warriors or San Antonio Spurs. But don’t count “Brodie” out, he has the heart of a champion and isn’t in the MVP race for nothing.