Don’t Lump Russell Westbrook in with the Other Stat-Stuffers

OKLAHOMA CITY—With seven seconds remaining in the first half Monday night against the New York Knicks, Russell Westbrook whipped a pass to Joffrey Lauvergne under the basket. Kristaps Porzingis reached out at the last second to deflect the pass, resulting in a Thunder turnover. Time expired and Oklahoma City took a 58-55 lead into halftime.

Westbrook was on the verge of a rare halftime triple-double. With 14 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, the Thunder star just needed Lauvergne to catch and finish, but Porzingis’ fingertips ruined it. That Westbrook passed up a mildly contested jumper in his comfort zone in favor of a risky pass spoke volumes.

He wanted that assist before the halftime buzzer sounded.

Westbrook finally got that pesky dime early in the third quarter, finishing with an eye-popping 27 points, 18 rebounds and 14 assists during the Thunder’s 112-103 victory. It was his third straight triple-double and his eighth of the season.

Monday’s performance pushed him into triple-double averages for the season: 30.9 points, 11.3 assists, and 10.4 rebounds per game. He joined some exclusive company in the process.

Russell Westbrook joins Oscar Robertson as the only players to average a triple-double this deep in to a season (19 games).

— Tas Melas (@TasMelas) November 29, 2016

It’s a nightly effort that seems nearly impossible to sustain, but Thunder head coach Billy Donovan is a believer, according to Fred Katz of the Norman Transcript.

“Yeah, he could do it,” Donovan said, answering whether Westbrook could average a triple-double for the entire season.

“I’m not gonna say he is or isn’t because I think the more important thing is Russell is winning, but he’s a guy that has great impact on generating assists. He has a great impact on rebounding the basketball, and he can score. So, there’s certainly a possibility that can happen.”

This kind of regular production is categorically dominant, yet it could lead some to wonder whether these nightly miracles are coming at a cost to the team. The question is: Is there any validity to this criticism? Let’s do a quick scoreboard check.

Westbrook logged 18 triple-doubles last season, and the Thunder went a perfect 18-0 during …

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