Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook is threatening to become the first NBA player to average a triple-double since Cincinnati Royals Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson achieved the double-figure points, assists and rebounds mark during the 1961-62 NBA season. A lot has changed in the league since then, which is why Westbrook’s current averages of 31.3 points, 10.6 assists and 10.3 rebounds would make such a feat a remarkable achievement in line with some of the greatest individual seasons in NBA history. If not the greatest individual season in NBA history.
As Westbrook takes on each new opponent while the OKC season drawls on, we’ll be updating his chances at matching the Big O’s feat.
Toward the end of most of these Watches, we conclude that even if Russell Westbrook were to have an absolute stinker of a game, or possibly be forced out of a contest, he would still retain his triple-double + 30 points per game averages despite having registered goose eggs in some areas of the box score.
Thursday’s was the contest of which we often spoke.
Westbrook was ejected during that evening’s loss to the Memphis Grizzlies after just 23 minutes. He failed to register an assist yet turned the ball over six times in an ejection game, leading ESPN’s respected statistical outlet to deduce the night “historic” based on what our Eric Freeman appropriately referred to as “a made-up stat.”
He hit for 21 points and five rebounds in what turned out to be a 118-80 defeat for OKC, the team’s worst loss of the 2016-17 season so far.
They’ll have one more chance to toss in a nastier loss, and a more painful stat line from Westbrook (Friday marked the first time he’d contributed zero assists in 37 months), as the Thunder are set to take on what could be the Austin Rivers and Chris Paul-less Clippers on New Year’s Eve. The Clippers are coming off of giving up 140 points in a loss to the Rockets on Friday night, in a contest that could prove as either a sign of things to come against Oklahoma City for the punchless Clips, or a tipping for Los Angeles that adds to the Thunder woe.
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Russell Westbrook is perpetually made of tipping points. He was already tilting in the hours after his ejection on Thursday, complaining that the man that takes (and earns!) nearly 11 free throws a game doesn’t “get the benefit of the doubt” when it comes to the referees’ whistle:
And he’ll keep complaining, because Westbrook (at 10 technical fouls on the year, as the season nears its midway point) feels as if he’s safely removed from the league suspensions that start to add up once a player hits 16 Ts:
Westbrook on if he's monitoring his technicals: "I know how many it takes for you to get suspended so I'm good." pic.twitter.com/Tfw7Am5gou
— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) December 31, 2016
If Russell had a defensive counterpart, however, it would stand in the form of menacing Memphis Grizzlies swingman Tony Allen, who was more than primed to take on the NBA’s great dervish on Thursday evening:
T. Allen on Westbrook: "I stick elite players every night. But he's on an all-time elite level. That's what got y'all in my face right now."
— Michael Wallace (@MyMikeCheck) December 29, 2016
This is what Russell Westbrook has to prepare for, each time out. Whether it’s an all-time defensive stud like Tony Allen or an all-time collector of NBA team jerseys in Los Angeles Clipper Raymond Felton, he’ll get the best of what shows up.
And even after Russell Westbrook’s worst, you’ve seen what happens. He’s still over 31 points per game. He still offers double-figure averages in assists and rebounds. He still has us on tilt, as we stumble toward the New Year.
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