OKC Thunder Winning Formula: Five statistical tipping points

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - JANUARY 28: Russell Westbrook
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - JANUARY 28: Russell Westbrook /
4 of 7
OKC Thunder
BOSTON, MA – MARCH 20: Russell Westbrook /

A Russell Westbrook Triple Double:

It’s easy to refute the people who say that Russell Westbrook’s aptitude for stuffing the stat sheet is numbers-mongering; all you have to say is 83-19.

83-19? The Thunder’s record when the Russ hits that seemingly arbitrary threshold. Why does it result in a such an excellent win percentage? I have some thoughts:

First, hitting ten assists means Russell’s teammates are making plays off the ball. The single worst habit the Thunder have had this year has been players standing around and watching teammates play “hero ball”. Assists mean that guys are getting open while Russ is working and not just watching, which always bodes well for the Thunder.

Second, Russ is the teams leading defensive rebounder. Let that sink in. Now, try to process that he has more than 200 more defensive rebounds than the next closest guy, Carmelo Anthony. The burden that Russ takes on on the defensive glass is an extremely vital part of the Thunder’s success. Steven Adam’s is usually tied up keeping opposing big men off the offensive boards and so the Thunder desperately needs someone to clean up there.

Without Russ’s work in these two areas, the Thunder would be up a creek, as evidenced by their astounding 40-53 record when he doesn’t the last two years (26-27 this year, 14-25 last year). There was an ESPN article last year with the headline, “Russell Westbrook’s triple-doubles are him showing up, not showing off”. I’d say that’s right.