Closing in on 20 games played in the NBA season, things are pretty much going as planned. The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors are as good as everybody figured the defending champions led by LeBron James and the team that went 73–9 last year before adding Kevin Durant into the mix would both be. But, of course, there’s been more to the season than just those two teams. Maybe most notably there’s Russell Westbrook playing like an absolute monster.
Durant’s former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate has taken over the team in a massive way, and in the process, is currently putting up numbers not seen since Oscar Robertson in 1963. Westbrook’s currently averaging 30.9 points, 10.3 rebounds and 11.3 assists a game. His triple-double average is enough to help keep his team above the .500 mark, and he’s doing it in impressive fashion. In the team’s most recent game, against the New York Knicks, Westbrook got the second-fastest of his career, taking just 20 minutes to put up the necessary numbers. The player Michael Jordan says reminds him of himself in his glory years is going out and putting up massive numbers every night, living up to that highest praise and then some.
To the sometimes reticent Westbrook, it’s all just a day at the office.
“I don’t really care, honestly, man,” Westbrook told ESPN. “I just like to win and compete at a high level, play the same way every night. I’ve been playing the same way since I got in the league, so I just do the same thing, and [I’m] grateful to be blessed and play the game I love.”
He’s playing at that high level, but is it sustainable to keep going at this pace?
Westbrook, who is now tied at the number seven spot with LeBron James for most triple-doubles, each with 45 apiece, isn’t in the same stratosphere yet with the top three leaders in the category. Jason Kidd did it 107 times, Magic Johnson had 138 and Oscar Robertson had 181. But the pace he’s on puts into perspective just how good Westbrook is playing right now: Robertson is the only player to go into December with a triple-double average. The one. Westbrook would need four rebounds in the team’s last game of this month to be averaging a triple-double heading into December, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. A small task compared to the way he’s been playing, but keeping it up for another 62 games is a whole other story entirely, one that Westbrook doesn’t seem all that concerned about. Yet the fact remains that as we enter into December, he’s scoring at a historic pace that doesn’t happen all that often. A bright spot in a season that otherwise looks to be going according to plan.