Russell Westbrook looks pretty serious about putting up all the numbers

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Russell Westbrook is everywhere. (Associated Press)
Russell Westbrook is everywhere. (Associated Press)

Several storylines dominated the NBA in the lead-up to the 2016-17 season, but none featured the potential for such individual pyrotechnics as Russell Westbrook’s new role as the Oklahoma City Thunder’s lone superstar. Anticipation could not have been higher to see how the all-attack, no-chill point guard would react after being handed the keys to the Thunder. Would he average a triple-double? Would he put up 50 points every month or so? Or would he finally burn out from the burden of doing so much so often?

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These questions cannot be answered after just three games, but it has become very clear that Westbrook will not underwhelm anyone who looked forward to this season. The five-time All-NBA selection has raised his statistical output to new heights in the league’s first week. A near-triple-double in Wednesday’s season opener and an absurd 51-point triple-double on Friday — the first 50-point triple-double in 41 years — set the stage for another opportunity to put up huge numbers on Sunday against his hometown Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center.

He did not disappoint. Westbrook posted 33 points (11-of-21 FG, 5-of-6 3FG, 6-of-6 FT), 16 assists, and 12 rebounds in 34 minutes to lead the 3-0 Thunder to a 113-96 win. He is the first player since Magic Johnson in 1982-83 and fourth player ever to log two triple-doubles in his team’s first three games of the season. Small sample size aside, Westbrook’s start to the season has offered little indication that he cannot exceed last season’s 18 triple-doubles — the most since Magic in that same 1982-83 season — or perhaps even join Oscar Robertson as the only players to average a triple-double over a full season.


Westbrook’s early-season exploits go beyond those triple-doubles. According to the Elias Sports Bureau (via ESPN), Westbrook is the first player in league history to put up 100 points, 30 rebounds, and 30 assists in his team’s first three games of the season. For that matter, he came into Sunday’s game needing only 17 points, 11 assists, and five rebounds to match that total. Naturally, Westbrook already had a triple-double by the time the Thunder and Lakers entered the third quarter.

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LeBron James and others are known as threats to put up triple-doubles in any game, but Westbrook could soon turn mere possibility into expectation. It’s arguable that no player impressed himself on the course of a game like Westbrook even when Kevin Durant was on his side. Now, with no other elite scorer or creator on the roster, Westbrook exercises more control over his team’s offense than any other player in the league.

It would be silly to put limits on what Westbrook may accomplish this season. As he told The Vertical’s Michael Lee last week, he can handle anything. Based on the early evidence, it’d be silly to bet against him.

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Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at efreeman_ysports@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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