Russell Westbrook Season Review: Twice in a lifetime

Russell Westbrook, OKC Thunder (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)
Russell Westbrook, OKC Thunder (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images) /
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Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook /

This list will be missing something, I’m sure of it. There were just too many great games, too many great performances, and too many unforgettable nights that I simply forgot. With this in mind, after going through the box scores, the game results, the tweets, et cetera, these games are the ones that stood out. There are likely several that are better. @ me.

5 – vs Wizards, January 25: 46 points (19-29), 6 rebounds, 6 assists

This game was the sixth in the eight-game winning streak during which it finally seemed like the Thunder had figured it out. In retrospect, this streak was probably the high-point of this grand experiment we called a season. Appropriately, this was also the most points Russell Westbrook scored during the regular season.

However, it was the very next game that the true and rightful DPoY, Andre Roberson, ruptured his patellar tendon in Detroit. Don’t think about that. I won’t either. I’m not crying, you’re crying.

4 – vs Warriors, April 3: 44 points (15-26), 16 rebounds, 6 assists

The Thunder were knee-deep in a historically congested playoff picture going into this game. They needed this win, and, with this in mind, Russell Westbrook left it all on the court. He absolutely carried the Thunder – Paul George had 20 points, but on only 5-19 shooting, Carmelo Anthony had 12, Corey Brewer added 10, and that’s about it. The Thunder lost.

Still, Russ kept the Thunder in the game against the Evil Empire all the way down to the final buzzer. And, lest you think that it was only because this was an ARID matchup, the Warriors always get up for these games. Really, the fact that the Thunder were able to go 2-2 against a fully engaged Death Star is something they should be proud of, and something they should include in their recruitment slide show for Paul George.

3 – @ Cavaliers, January 20: 23 points (9-17), 9 rebounds, 20 assists

The Thunder scored 148 points in this game. 148. Did I say “148” yet? Because, if not, 148 is the number of points that the Thunder scored in this game. This game, a part of the previously mentioned eight-game streak that showed the potential of this Thunder team, was a tremendous Russell Westbrook performance (the second 20-20 game of his career), which was pulled along by a spectacular team performance, which was driven by that same Russell Westbrook performance.

Additionally, this game, located in the middle of the peak of the Thunder season, was the absolute apex of optimism for this team. This may have been the last time the entire fanbase allowed itself to have fantasies of rings and trophies. It will not be the last.

2 – Grizzlies, April 11: 6 points, 20 rebounds, 19 assists

Russell Westbrook went full stat-chaser in this game. Needing 16 rebounds (after securing 18 in the previous game), Russ went above and beyond all convention and propriety to make history happen. He achieved his goal not even halfway through the third quarter, and, when the smoke cleared, he had a career-high 20 rebounds and was the first person in the history of history to average a triple-double twice in a life.

Some people, somewhere in the valley of the shadow of the darkness of the internet, are angry about this. Those people need to bite their tongues and explode their laptops.

Why is it that nobody has a problem with David Robinson, the admirable Admiral, the unassailable bastion of character, stat-padding his way to 71 points in pursuit of a scoring title in 1994? Did you know that the Thunder’s color commentator, Michael Cage, once played all 48 minutes in a game his team lost so that he could secure the 29 rebounds (he finished with 30) he needed to lead the league for the season?

Wilt Chamberlain famously scored 100 points in a game. Did you know that he was grabbing his own teammates’ shots and dunking them, because offensive goaltending wasn’t a thing yet? Of course not, because who in the whole darn world cares? Wilt scored 100 in one game! Russ averaged a triple-double for two-straight seasons!

Heroes get remembered, but legends never die. Grab your rebounds, Russ, and put them on your headstone.

1 – Jazz games 5 and 6: 45.5 points (17.5-41), 12.5 rebounds, 6 assists

What might jump out at you from the above stat-line, which is an average of the stats from the last two games of the Thunder season, might be “41 shots per game.” What should jump out at you, though, is how hard Russell Westbrook tried to keep this star-crossed Thunder season alive.

Although he faced first a 25-point deficit, and then a Paul George deficit, Russ left exactly zero rounds in the chamber, and did everything within his power. This is why we love him. This is why we stand up for him.