Russell Westbrook rewrites history- consecutive seasons averaging triple-double

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK- DECEMBER 3: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been converted to black and white.) Russell Westbrook
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK- DECEMBER 3: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been converted to black and white.) Russell Westbrook /

How do you follow averaging a triple-double for an entire season? If you’re Russell Westbrook you become the first to do it in back-to-back seasons.

Last season on April 9th, 2017 Russell Westbrook made history becoming the second player to ever average a seasonal triple-double.  He joined Oscar Robertson who for 55 years (1961-62) was the only NBA player to ever accomplish the heady feat.

Most pundits felt with the way the game changed and because of the expanding talent in the Association it was a long shot at best to happen again. Westbrook as Thunder Nation knows loves nothing more than to prove pundits wrong, and so as his fans we weren’t surprised when he became the second player in NBA history to reach this benchmark.

For more on Westbrook’s historical 2016-17 season TI’s own Tamberlyn Richardson and Austin Sternlicht who both did excellent pieces on the subject. One piece breaks down examines why Westbrooks’ MVP season was about more than triple-doubles. The other recaps Russ’ top ten triple-doubles from last season.

Westbrook sets a whole new standard:

So how did Russ follow-up such a historical season? By averaging a triple-double in back-to-back seasons.

Westbrook did not have 42 triple doubles to match last season, instead it was a mere 25. Then again, Russ didn’t need 42 to average a triple-double as his per game numbers were: 25.4 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 10.3 assists.

Moreover, Westbrook still led the NBA in total triple-doubles with 25. LeBron James second (18) and rookie Ben Simmons was third (12). The Thunder went 20-5 this season when Westbrook recorded a triple-double. The record is good for an .800 winning percentage.

Similarly, the Cleveland Cavaliers record was 14-4 when LeBron triple-doubled and the Sixers were 9-3. The narrative triple doubles are a bad thing, whether gunning for it or not, is false. The aforementioned teams have a combined 43-12 .827 winning percentage. As far as this scribe is concerned the wins speak for themselves.

Furthermore, Russell Westbrook has changed the way the triple-double is viewed, how? He normalized it. When Russ does not triple-double it almost a surprise. Whereas when an average player triple-doubles it is a career achievement.

More History Setting by Westbroook

Apart from the triple-double Westbrook became the first player in NBA history to lead the league in scoring the previous season and lead the league in assists the following season.

Some spectators and media members alike will find this stat intriguing. Russell Westbrook was third in the league in total passes with 4858. Behind only Nikola Jokic (4872) and Simmons (5929).

More from Thunderous Intentions

What Westbrook accomplishes with his playmaking offers other gems worth noting. For example the ‘hockey assist” which is the pass leading to the assist and the potential assist (pass which doesn’t result in a score). In the latter category Westbrook leads the Association.  Westbrook was first with (1586) potential assists. LeBron was second (1426) and Simmons was third (1371).

When pundits scoff and opine Westbrook is stat padding, it’s important to remember these facts. The point is, there are numerous occasions Westbrook is playmaking, but the player isn’t converting. So, there is also the argument (as he cheekily showcased last night) where his numbers could be even more pronounced.

To that end, with Russ having 1,000 more potential assists than the second place James speaks volumes. Not only about his playmaking, but his teammates ability to knock down shots.

There you have it Thunder Nation Russell Westbrook is one of the most scrutinized, dazzling, dramatic, unique and historic players in the NBA. Enjoy watching Westbrook because there will never be another player like him.