I’ll admit it. I figured that Russell Westbrook was going to put up a lot of points, rebounds and assists this season. But I also didn’t think he would average a triple-double this season either.
Westbrook is currently averaging 21.7 points, 11.2 rebounds and 11.0 assists per game and should average a triple-double this season barring a radical drop in playing time. If he does average a triple-double, BF community member gorebd will get some bragging rights for predicting it. Regardless of whether the Wizards make the play-in or the Round of 16 in the NBA Playoffs or not, Westbrook’s statistical accomplishment is nothing short of impressive.
And if averaging a triple-double for a fourth season wasn’t enough, Westbrook now has 176 career triple-doubles. He only needs five more to tie Oscar Robertson’s mark of 181. The Wizards have TEN games remaining. Barring injury and/or a drop in playing time, Westbrook is likely surpassing Robertson’s career record sometime this season as well. Again, nothing short of impressive.
It is true that the NBA has a much more open game than it used to during Robertson’s day or even 10 years ago. The three-point line was brought in and teams shoot more threes than ever before. Teams play faster than ever which gives more opportunities for triple-doubles to begin with.
It is true that more players get triple-doubles on any given night. And many of the career-leaders of triple-doubles are still active players like LeBron James and James Harden. For that matter, players in their 20s like Nikola Jokic and Luka Doncic are already ninth and 11th, respectively on this list.
Despite an increasing number of triple-doubles throughout the NBA, as Marc Stein of The New York Times noted, it still takes a special kind of player to be able to put up triple-doubles as consistently as Westbrook, who is listed 6’3. It’s easier for a player like Doncic, Jokic or James to get 10 rebounds because of their height, but Westbrook has to time his leaping a bit better to get rebounds over defenders since he is shorter. He just has the ability to do that.
In addition, Westbrook isn’t getting any younger. He’s 32 years old and his natural decline will make it more difficult for him to average a triple-double for an entire season moving forward, though it probably won’t be as significant as John Wall’s as Kevin Broom noted last week.
Given where we are this season, I think Westbrook has the triple-double average in the bag. When he gets that average, it will be his most impressive yet. I didn’t say ever because ... it’s still possible that he could average yet ANOTHER TRIPLE-DOUBLE next season!
Sure, he wasn’t an All-Star this season and sure, the Wizards may still not make the Round of 16 in the NBA Playoffs. But again, it takes a uniquely special athlete to do what Westbrook is doing on a consistent basis. We are fortunate to see him doing that on our team.