3 for 3: Russell Westbrook clinches third straight season averaging a triple-double

Yahoo Sports Contributor
Yahoo Sports

We already knew it, but now there’s even more proof: There has never been a player who can rack up points, rebounds and assists quite like Russell Westbrook.

With his third assist of the night against the Detroit Pistons, Westbrook assured that he would finish the season averaging a triple-double. Entering Friday, Westbrook had been averaging 23.0 points, 11.1 rebounds and an NBA-leading 10.5 assists per game.

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Russell Westbrook makes triple-double history

Westbrook locked up the accomplishment with an assist to Jerami Grant early in the first quarter, video above.

With four games to go, Westbrook had posted 727 assists in 69 games this season. Reaching 730 on Friday made it so that Westbrook could go without an assist in all three of the Thunder’s following games and still have at least 10.0 assists per game.

It was apt for Grant to receive the milestone-setting assist, as the forward had been on the receiving end of 154 Westbrook assists entering Friday. The only member of the Thunder to receive more was center Steven Adams at 177.

Russell Westbrook keeps setting himself apart

To give you a sense of how ridiculous Westbrook has been this year, consider this stat noted by one reddit user. Westbrook’s field-goal percentage this season entering Friday: 42.6 percent. The percentage of games that Westbrook has posted a triple-double: 44.9 percent. That’s right, Westbrook has been more likely to post a triple-double in a game than make a shot this season.

The peak of Westbrook’s record-season occurred just three days ago on Tuesday, when Westbrook posted the second 20-20-20 game in NBA history and dedicated the performance to deceased rapper Nipsey Hussle. The only other player to accomplish the feat was Wilt Chamberlain, who did so in 1968.

Russell Westbrook might be in the middle of an unbreakable record. (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images)
Russell Westbrook might be in the middle of an unbreakable record. (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images)

It was big enough news when Westbrook first averaged a triple-double in 2017 that he won NBA MVP. The only other player in NBA history to post a triple-double average in a season was Oscar Robertson in the 1961-62 season.

Westbrook has now accomplished the feat three times in a row. He didn’t receive a second MVP last season for his efforts and isn’t likely to come close this year thanks to James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo, but the 30-year-old might be in the middle of a milestone even more memorable: a truly unbreakable record.

Russell Westbrook fouls Pachulia hard

Friday delivered on the defining feature of Westbrook’s career: triple-double history. It also delivered on arguably the second-most defining feature of his career: pure, unfiltered pettiness.

Westbrook picked up a Flagrant 1 for a hard elbow to the head of Pistons center Zaza Pachulia.

That wasn’t just a hard foul though. It was the fulfillment of a two-year-old prophecy from Westbrook, who told reporters he was “going to get his ass back” after receiving yet another hard foul from Pachulia in January 2017.

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