Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westrook’s play has been uncanny up to this point in the season. His extraordinary play should result in unanimous MVP honors at the conclusion of the 2016-17 NBA regular season.
Those who are not such avid sports followers may not be aware of the tear that Westbrook has been on and what compelled him to do so.
Someone who played a large hand in Westbrook’s superstar emergence is Kevin Durant. Durant and Westbrook were “Thunder Buddies”, perennial all-stars who played alongside each other from 2008-2016. The tandem even made it to the 2012 NBA Championship with the aid of another emerging superstar by the name of James Harden (who plays for the Houston Rockets), the Sixth Man of the Year that season, and key players such as Jeff Green of the Orlando Magic or Serge Ibaka of the Toronto Raptors.
The duo was on the verge of making the championship again last season, without the help of players like all-star Harden, Green, or Ibaka, but they fell to a Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, who were leading the series 3-1.
Durant subsequently left Oklahoma in the offseason and joined the Warriors, leaving Westbrook truly alone to fend for his team. The departure of a superstar like Durant, who is arguably the second best player in the league, could potentially leave gaping holes in a team’s offense. The Oklahoma City Thunder upper management had two options: bring in another player of Durant’s caliber or rely solely on Westbrook to fill in for this newly vamped Oklahoma City team.
Oklahoma did not have the money or the assets to bring in superstar talents, so they had to lean on Westbrook to step up, and step up Westbrook did.
As of today, Westbrook is averaging a triple double – 31 points per game, 10.6 rebounds per game, and 10.3 assists per game.
Junior, and the starting point guard on the Monroe Falcons, Luke Patel said, “I model my game after him. He’s a monster.”
According to cbssports.com, Westbrook now has an 81 percent chance of finishing the season averaging a triple double. The only other player to reach this monumental achievement was Hall-of-Famer Oscar Robinson.
Westbrook has 30 triple doubles (reaching double figures in three statistical categories within one game) this season, which is second most of all time. This year, Westbrook is having career highs in three-point field goal percentage, the ratio of free throws taken and made per game, rebounds per game, blocks per game, and points per game. He is leading the league in scoring, 12th in the league in rebounds standing at 6’3″, third in assists and 15th in steals per game. Westbrook also leads the league in Player Efficiency Rating.
Senior Bryce Thibault said, “I always knew Brodie [Russell Westbrook] was capable of this. I always thought he was the best player on the team, even when KD [Kevin Durant] was in OKC [Oklahoma City]. He was holding Westbrook back, and now Westbrook is finally getting the opportunity to show what I knew he was capable of the whole time.”
The only other argument for another potential MVP this year is his former teammate Harden. Although he is having a great season, Westbrook exceeds him in points per game, rebounds per game, player efficiency rating, triple doubles on the season, and is playing with less talent around him.
Westbrook is going to finish the season with the scoring crown, has a chance of finishing tops in assists also, and will likely finish the season with a triple-double and the most triple-doubles all time in NBA history in one season. Not awarding him MVP honors would be robbery.
The only question is, is this one-man led locomotive enough to drive Oklahoma to playoff success?