The 2016-17 season has seen a break out performance from the Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook. His tenure in OKC certainly has garnered attention and with his unparalleled performances, day after day, he is making the headlines for all the right reasons. Russ is averaging 31.2 points, 10.5 rebounds and 10.4 assists a game with a staggering 35 triple-doubles set to average the Big-0’s record for the entirety of the season. Not just that, he can potentially cross the 41 mark- the most in a season.
Can he actually do it?
In the Thunder’s 11 remaining games, he needs to muster 6.9 rebounds and 7.7 assists to finish with a triple-double average. Westbrook has never averaged fewer than 4.9 rebounds and 5.3 assists which was in his rookie season where he played a total of 32 minutes a game with a 25.9 net usage rate.
Does it mean anything?
Averaging a triple-double it a great feat. So great in fact, nobody since Oscar Robertson in 1962 has been able to manage it.
What makes them so valuable?
Its not just the mere title of Mr. Triple Double that grabs the attention of so many, its the fact that Russell is leading the league in scoring, is 11th in rebounding and 3rd in assists garnered per game all the while battling for the 4th spot in the West.
Out of all the 71 games that the Thunder have played, they have a winning percentage of 82.9 with Westbrook’s Triple-doubles and give away 33.3% of the games without. His impact is undeniable. He has improved his court-vision, has improved in getting his guys involved early, is picking his spots and is dominating in the clutch all at a gear that is all so rear in the NBA.
Averaging a triple-double and securing a top five seed will certainly validate his MVP candidacy.
So what can stop him?
Westbrook will face 10 more teams down the stretch; five are playoff-bound and three of the top four defenses in the league. A higher seed is what they should be looking towards because only then they might just be able to get out of the first round of the playoffs. The OKC Thunder have to play 6 of the remaining 10 games away from their home and need to secure wins above all thereby putting triple-doubles at a lower priority. Seeing that getting triple-double most often that not equates to a win, a fair argument can be made.
Is there a need for a MVP validation?
Considering that Russell does indeed gets to the 5th seed, averages a triple-double and breaks Oscars 41, he might just win the KIA 2017 MVP award. That will cement Westbrook’s name in the books for ages and undoubtedly to an extent would be a statement against his critics. But the fact remains that there is no future for him or the Thunder deep into the playoffs. Not this year, and without a major scene change, in the season to come. Considering the huge talent laden franchises in the West and the upcoming teams like the Pelicans, Nuggets, Trailblazers and the Timberwolves, they need to come up with and support a winning culture in order to cash in while Russ is thriving in his prime.