If you watched the Thunder surge in the 2nd half to defeat the Lakers relatively easily, you were treated to something both normal and quite extraordinary. Which kind of defines the Russell Westbrook experience. As I was watching, I couldn’t help but notice how completely normal it felt to watch Russ post 10 assists after the first quarter, but as the 4th quarter wound down, I wondered to what degree he had planned it all along.
And perhaps that’s the most impressive/crazy thing about it. Westbrook, perhaps more than any other player, could set in his mind that he’d record a 20-20-20 to honor his fallen friend Nipsey Hussle, and then had the ability and drive to go out and do that very thing.
Tom Ziller wrote:
In the post-game, Westbrook said he did it for Nipsey — “20 plus 20 plus 20, they know what that means” — an apparent reference to the Rollin 60s. The 60s were a huge part of Nipsey’s music and his story of personal and community change. That this 20-21-20 performance — the second in NBA history — was a tribute to a fallen friend makes it all the more powerful and impressive.
Almost as a byproduct of a tribute very few NBA players could even imagine doing, let alone execute, WTLC’s Jeff Linka had this to add to Westbrook’s extraordinary run:
In a few days, Westbrook will complete his 3rd consecutive season in which he averages a triple-double. That is as crazy as it is well-documented. But I wanted to see just how far back Westbrook’s triple double average goes. Using Basketball Reference game logs, I found that Westbrook is averaging a triple-double going back to November 27, 2015. That night, he posted 14 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists. Including that night, over the past 294(!!!) games, Russ is averaging 25.85 points, 10.003 rebounds, and 10.394 assists.
If you include the game before that, the November 25, 2015 game against Brooklyn where Westbrook posted a line of 27/6/13, his averages over 295 games come to 25.854 points, 9.989 rebounds, and 10.4 assists.
It is absolutely incredible that, as of April 3, 2019, Russell Westbrook is averaging a triple-double going back 294 games and 1,224 days. Westbrook’s stats over OKC’s final games of the season are likely to push the triple-double stretch back even further.
Finally, it is worth noting that if Westbrook grabs 70 rebounds in the final 4 Thunder games this season, his triple double average will extend back four full seasons. 70 rebounds over four games is not likely — unless someone tells Russ.
Thunder’s season, winding down over the next four games, has not turned out as planned or hoped. But Westbrook continues to be who he is, and we will keep being witnesses to a singular player that is as rare as the feats he accomplishes.