Russell Westbrook got his 28th triple double of the season today in a 129-109 victory against his beloved Oklahoma City Thunder. The 37 point, 11 rebound and 11 assist performance came on 14 of 23 shooting from the field (3 of 4 from three) and 6 of 7 from the free throw line. He also only had three turnovers. His outing was paired with a big game from Bradley Beal, who had 33 points, six rebounds, three assists, a steal, and two blocks.
There’s no denying that the man is a polarizing player. Plenty of fans consider him a legend, while another large cohort would call him a stat chaser. The one thing that would be hard for anyone to argue, though, is that he never takes to the court without leaving it all out there, for better or worse.
This year’s stint in the Washington Wizards was initially viewed by many as proof that he was washed, and was thought to have been the wrong aging star to put alongside a prime Beal. Now, in the midst of a seven-win streak that pushes their record to 26-33, placing them in the final spot of the play-in tournament, Westbrook is showing that he can still make a huge impact.
It would be good to remember that the end of March and beginning of April had things looking bleak for the Wizards, who went on a four-game losing streak and sat with a 17-32 record after the Raptors game. Since then, they’ve gone 9-1 and leapfrogged the Bulls for tenth place. Sure, the Wizards still have a losing record, and the play-in format is what’s made things interesting this season. .
The fact that he had another triple-double against the Thunder today puts icing on the cake.
To put things into perspective, Westbrook’s 28 triple-doubles in 2020/21 ties or surpasses the following NBA legends’ CAREER numbers:
- Michael Jordan: 28
- Elgin Baylor: 26
- Giannis Antetokounmpo: 25
- Clyde Drexler: 25
- Walt Frazier: 23
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 21
- Kobe Bryant: 21
- Chris Webber: 21
- Charles Barkley: 20
At 32, he’s definitely not in his prime, like during the 2016-17 season that saw him put up the single-season triple-double record with 42 (surpassing Oscar Robertson’s 41 from 1960-61).
Westbrook also made history the other day by becoming the first player in NBA history to record multiple triple-doubles against every single team in the NBA. For a 32-year-old who was said to have been on the downturn, that’s no easy feat. As fate would have it, he also accomplished the feat against the team that drafted him.
Yes, he still has plenty of bad nights. However, I can’t help but be drawn to watching the Wizards just to see what Westbrook does. He’s got inconsistent shooting percentages and can sometimes forget the rest of the team, but sometimes it can be fun to watch a one-man wrecking crew.
While no one can seriously say that the Wizards have a realistic shot of contending for the title, that doesn’t mean that they can’t at least make some noise in the play-ins. When Bradley Beal’s been on the court with him, the Wizards have posted a 22-22 record. If they finish in tenth place, they need only two wins to make the playoffs. It won’t be an easy task, but it’s within the realm of possibility.
For now, let’s just enjoy watching Westbrook play. He’s likely never going to win an NBA title, but no one’s ever going to forget his career.