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Russell Westbrook began playing this season with a torn quad

This explains why he wasn’t playing very well earlier this season.

Indiana Pacers v Washington Wizards
Russell Westbrook began the 2020-21 NBA season with an injury that was more significant than initially believed.
Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook is quickly closing in on Oscar Robertson as the NBA’s all-time leader in career triple-doubles. He began the season playing well statistically, but was otherwise not his normal self. And now, we know why.

Yesterday, after his 14 point, 21 rebound and 24 assist triple-double in a 154-141 win over the Indiana Pacers, Westbrook said that he began playing this season with a torn left quadriceps.

The news of Westbrook’s left quad isn’t new. He missed some time due to that injury in early January, but didn’t have to miss as many games because the Wizards soon had a major coronavirus outbreak that forced them to miss six consecutive games later that month. That said, the degree of Westbrook’s injury is surprising.

Westbrook also had another quadriceps injury last summer during the NBA’s summer bubble while playing for the Houston Rockets, though it was in his right quad at that time. Now that we have hindsight, it appears that Westbrook’s injuries in both quads may have contributed to the Wizards’ rationale to keep him from playing back-to-backs or dunk in practice.

At any rate, Westbrook is clearly healed from his past quad injuries and is playing at super-high level. And the Wizards’ performance has clearly improved as well.

Finally, on the triple-double front, Westbrook now has 178 for his career, just three behind Oscar Robertson’s all-time record of 181. It’s only a matter of time this season before Westbrook breaks it too.