Lost in last night’s madness of Russell Westbrook’s 3rd straight triple double – making 6 in his last 7 games and 23 overall for the season – is the fact that in order to average a triple double for the 2016-17 season, Russ no longer has to actually average a triple double.
Assuming Westbrook plays all 82 games (because of course he will), he will need season-long totals of 820 points, 820 rebounds, and 820 assists in order to join Oscar Robertson as the only players to ever accomplish the feat. With 1,413 points scored already this season through 1/26/17, Westbrook has long-surpassed clinching double digit points for 2016-17. He still has some work to do, however, when it comes to assists and rebounds:
Go ahead and slack off a bit, Russ – you’ve earned it.
Over the final 36 games of the season, Westbrook needs to average only 9.2 rebounds and 9.5 assists per game in order to reach 820 of each. Such a line on its own for an entire season would put Russ in much less exclusive company: not only has Oscar averaged 9.2 rebounds and 9.5 assists per game for an entire season, but Magic Johnson has too.
This should add proper context to what Westbrook is doing: he could score 0 points per game while pulling down one fewer rebound and one fewer assist per game, and still be just the 2nd player in NBA history to average a triple-double.
These numbers also illustrate how vital 11 and 12 rebound and assist games are for Westbrook. Obviously, grabbing 12 rebounds last night against the Pelicans buys him a night where he only comes down with 8. Grabbing another 12 tonight gives him even more wiggle room. Teams – including the Thunder – are going to wear down as the season enters its final trimester. The Thunder are likely to be on both sides of blowouts, and Russ will likely watch a couple 4th quarters from the bench. Watching Westbrook put up 21/4/7 in 125-100 OKC victories down the stretch will be even more satisfying knowing that he has the extra dimes and boards already in the bank.
What are the actual odds that Russ pulls this off? Well, if you tack on the final 36 regular season games of 2015-16 to the first 46 of this season, he falls slightly short in the rebounding category.
While he doesn’t quite average a triple double over his past 82 games, Westbrook could take solace in the fact that the 27.2/9.8/10.7 club would consist of only him and Oscar. Magic’s 18.6 point, 9.6 rebound averages during his historic season fall fairly short of these thresholds.
Westbrook’s final 36 games of 2015-16 started with a road match-up tonight against Dallas, with Russ putting up a paltry 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists. Tonight, the Mavericks visit Oklahoma City, and a 16/8/7 line could be in play before halftime.