The man is hot. After stuffing the stat sheet with 45 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists, Russell Westbrook recorded his 14th triple double of the season en route to a victory over the Boston Celtics. It was Westbrook’s third straight 40+ point game and his 5th of the season. But the most impressing part of Westbrook’s night came with three minutes left in the fourth quarter, where he scored 13 points in convincing fashion. 13 points in the 3 most crucial minutes of the game. Just when you think you’ve seen him do it all, he keeps amazing us.
Currently averaging 31.3 points, 10.8 assists, and 10.5 rebounds, Russell Westbrook shows no signs of letting up. In fact, I don’t believe it’s a far cry to say that he has a really good chance to average a triple-double over the entire season, a feat only accomplished once by Oscar Robinson. But what impresses me most about Russell Westbrook is his ability to produce, despite being the center of attention to opposing defenses. Think about it, opposing teams go into games knowing that they only have to stop one player; number 0. In the last three minutes of the game, don’t you think the Celtics knew that it was Westbrook who was going to take a large majority of the Thunder’s shots? They absolutely did, and yet they still could not contain him. Westbrook doesn’t have the luxury of playing with another all-star caliber player to take some attention off him. It’s all Russell Westbrook, all the time. And honestly, he’s embraced it. We saw this caliber of play from Westbrook in past years when Kevin Durant was sidelined with injuries. Only difference now is that Westbrook gets to play an entire season as the focal point of the offense. As far the MVP race goes, it’s Westbrook’s to lose and there’s no debating that.
Sitting at 18-12 in a tough Western Conference, the Thunder will likely find themselves in the playoffs come April. However, they’ll probably end up facing the likes of the Spurs, Clippers, or possibly even the Warriors. With the current state of their roster, the Thunder are hopeless in a seven game series against any of these teams. They lack production out of their bench, which many argue is vital to playoff success. Just look at the Warriors these past two years. Shopping for a scorer to come off their bench before the trade deadline would greatly benefit OKC. In my opinion, that could be the one missing piece restricting them from compete with the league’s elite.