Why Not Russell Westbrook?

Russell Westbrook - Oklahoma City Thunder
Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Intensity. Ferocious.  Insane.  These are just a few words that might describe the play of Russell Westbrook.  When Westbrook first entered the league, any thought he and Derrick Rose were just the same type of player:  Fast, scoring point guards that presented the evolution of the NBA.  Westbrook went down with a meniscus injury in the Playoffs not long after Rose tore his ACL.  With Rose struggling to return to form, many thought Westbrook would have difficulties as well.

They couldn’t have been more wrong.

Westbrook came back better: Stronger, faster, more intense, and didn’t deviate from the style of play he brought to the league.  Last year, one year removed from his meniscus tear, Westbrook averaged 28.1 ppg (leading the NBA in scoring), 8.6 assists, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.1 steals.  He played only 27 of his 67 games with Kevin Durant and Durant was done for good by mid February.  Westbrook had 9 triple doubles last season, he eclipsed 40 points 9 times including scoring 40 and having a triple double 3 times last year.  He was unreal.  He’s kept it up this year and is mostly flying under the radar due to the Steph Curry love that has swept the NBA.  Here are some Russell Westbrook facts:

  • There are only 3 players in NBA history to average 20 points per game, 10 assists per game, and 7 rebounds per game: Oscar Robertson (4 times), Magic Johnson (once), and Russell Westbrook (this season).  That’s it. That’s a pretty exclusive list.
  • There’s only player ever that has averaged 20 points, 10 assists, 7 rebounds, and 2 steals: Russell Westbrook
  • There are only players in NBA history that have averaged 25 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds, and 2 steals per game: Michael Jordan and Russell Westbrook (last year)
  • There are only players in NBA history that have ever averaged 25 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds: Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, Lebron James, and Russell Westbrook (last year)

Westbrook is doing incredible things on the basketball court and things that either we’ve never seen or we only see the elite players in the league do.  One of the best qualities about Lebron James was his complete game and his total brilliance on both ends of the floor.  Michael Jordan shared the same attitude and had that fierce competitiveness that no one could match.  Westbrook is displaying that same all-around brilliance and that same maniacal edge, but nobody talks about him.  Instead, he’s looked at as Durant’s sidekick – and Westbrook doesn’t seem to mind that as long as they are winning.  Durant gets the MVPs, Durant gets the endorsements, Durant gets the attention, but Westbrook, clearly, is as important to Oklahoma City as Durant is.

And the media? They’re just focused on Steph Curry and Golden State’s historical run this season – and rightfully so – but let’s not fail to recognize another great player in his prime doing things that we see so rarely.  We should be celebrating the tenacious Russell Westbrook and all his brilliance and enjoying it just as much as we’re enjoying the rest of this NBA season.  Who knows if or when we’ll ever see this again.

Brandon Pence is the founder and former editor of the Chicago Bulls blog “The Bulls Charge.”  Follow him on TwitterGoogle+, and Facebook

Jeremiah 5:25

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