Russell Westbrook tops the NBA in points off turnovers

NEW ORLEANS, LA - APRIL 01: Russell Westbrook
NEW ORLEANS, LA - APRIL 01: Russell Westbrook /

For all of the criticism he takes for poor decision making, Russell Westbrook more than makes up for his errors by taking advantage of his opponents miscues.

Following critical wins over the Houston Rockets on Saturday and the Miami Heat on Monday, Russell Westbrook sits atop the NBA leaderboard in points off turnovers with 5.2 per game.

The current focus is rightfully on Monday’s Playoff-clinching win, but I want to look back to Saturday. Westbrook’s defense on James Harden ended up stealing the show in crunch-time. His teams’ 22 points off Houston turnovers (either that he or his teammates helped create) was instrumental in getting the win. It’s no wonder such a complimentary game was likely his best performance of the weekend.

Turnovers has traditionally been a weakness for the Thunder, but it hasn’t been one of their struggles this season. They are second-best at holding teams when turning it over, giving up only 14.3 points per game. As a team, OKC scores a league-best 17.4% of their points off turnovers, with a lot of help coming from the explosive Westbrook.

The Thunder’s defense took a hit with the loss of Andre Roberson, but they still have one of the best two-players in the league in Paul George. George is still second best in the NBA with 2.0 steals per game. George’s work on both ends gives him an efficiency rating of 51.6% according to NBA Math, good for second on the team.

Points from extra possessions will be more critical in the home stretch of the regular season, as the playoff race will be a photo finish.  The Thunder currently sit in a three-way tie with San Antonio and New Orleans at 47-34. Meanwhile, Minnesota and Denver are only one game back with a game remaining.

If the Thunder end up with a spot in the playoffs, it will in large part thanks to the work of Westbrook’s points off turnovers.