Remember back in October when we said all eyes would be on Russell Westbrook and whether he’d live up to the MVP hype? It’s safe to say he’s done that and more thus far.
Sure, it’s only December and we’ve got a ways to go, but Westbrook’s done more in 30 games than most players have done in their careers. He’s already posted a whopping 13 triple-doubles on the young season. Houston Rockets star James Harden is a distant second-place with six.
As we approach the New Year, Westbrook is still managing to average a triple-double with 30.4 pts, 11 ast, and 10.5 reb. It’s unfair to expect him to keep that pace up all the way until June. After all, it’s only been done once by the legendary Oscar Robertson in 1961-62 for the Cincinnati Royals. But if there’s one guy who seems like he can defy all odds (which are 11/2, according to OnlineGambling.lv) and pull it off, it’s No. 0.
ESPN’s Marc Stein pegged Westbrook as his MVP favorite in the stacked Western Conference. He cited the Oklahoma City Thunder’s desperate need for Westbrook to be on the floor in order for them to have a chance at winning. Not only do they depend on him being on the floor, but they even depend on him getting a triple-double.
With Westbrook, it’s not merely that he’s threatening to do something no one else but the Big O has ever managed before with his preposterous averages of 30.5 points, 10.6 assists and 10.5 rebounds. It’s that we’ve reached the point that the Thunder seem to need Westbrook to post a triple-double to win the game.
On a tidy little 47-win pace of its own in Year 1 post-Durant, 15-11 OKC enters Saturday’s home date with Phoenix at 9-3 when Angry Russ gets his triple-double — and 6-8 when he doesn’t.
As recently as Wednesday, Oklahoma City was being outscored by 12.9 points per 100 possessions with Westbrook off the floor, which would have ranked last in the NBA by some distance. The Thunder, by contrast, were outscoring opponents by 5.2 points per 100 possessions leading into their Wednesday loss in Utah, which would have placed them eighth in the league.
That seems to sum up the definition of “Most Valuable Player”.
Westbrook is thriving without Kevin Durant by his side. That was never really in doubt, considering he was the MVP favorite before the season started, but the way he’s gone about dominating in every facet of the game is truly remarkable.
It’ll be intriguing to see whether he can keep up his torrid pace. Even if he slows down, it’s impossible right now to imagine him not being in the top 2 for MVP voting when it’s all set and done.
Of course, Robertson didn’t earn the MVP award when he averaged that triple-double back in 1962. Instead, the award went to Celtics legend Bill Russell.