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Russell Westbrook’s chance at averaging a triple-double for a full season has been one of the top stories in the NBA so far in 2016-17. With a recent run of seven-straight triple-doubles and comfortable averages heading into Wednesday’s contest at the Utah Jazz, the Oklahoma City Thunder superstar looks in very good shape to accomplish a feat that only the great Oscar Robertson has done before. It should make for great drama over the next four months.
“Honestly, man, people and this triple-double thing is kind of getting on my nerves, really,” Westbrook said after a 109-89 loss to the Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. “People think if I don’t get it, it’s like a big thing. When I do get it, it’s a thing. If y’all just let me play – if I get it, I get it. If I don’t, I don’t care. It is what it is. I really don’t care. For the hundredth time. I don’t care. All I care about is winning, honestly. All the numbers s*** don’t mean nothing to me.” […]
Whether it’s realistic for that his current pace to continue – he entered the night averaging 31.1 points, 10.9 rebounds and 11 assists – isn’t a concern, Westbrook said.
“I don’t know what’s realistic,” Westbrook said. “I just go out and play every night, man. That’s it. I really don’t care what people think is real or not.”
Intelligent observers will note that Westbrook did not seem to mind all the attention during his seven-game triple-double streak, the first six of which the Thunder won. Then again, that point doesn’t really challenge anything Westbrook is saying. OKC won six of those games and lost the seventh by three points, so his point about winning holds. Plus, he often gets triple-doubles so early in games that he can’t be accused of late stat-hunting. Westbrook logs triple-doubles because he does everything for his team, not because he’s especially aware of the feat.
Of course, it also stands to reason that Westbrook is upset about the triple-double talk now in part because he hasn’t been at his best of late. Since his streak ended, OKC has won a game (which he dominated) and lost the next two quite easily. Wednesday’s defeat was one of Westbrook’s worst performances of the season — 27 points on 25 shot attempts with six rebounds, five assists, and five turnovers. OKC has lost their last two contests by a combined 39 points, and it’s probably not a coincidence that Westbrook has struggled with secondary creator Victor Oladipo sidelined with a sprained wrist. Defenses can key on him even more than usual, and the team has suffered for it.
At the same time, a sound argument doesn’t exactly mean Westbrook can expect to hear the end of the triple-double just yet. Statistical feats like this one are exciting for a reason, and no one is going to stop talking about the potential of matching Oscar Robertson until Westbrook either accomplishes it or falls so far behind that it’s not worth the effort. The best the media can do is to find a way to ask him about poor performances in non-statistical ways.
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