Comparing streaks – OKC Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook versus Houston’s James Harden

OKC Thunder (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)
OKC Thunder (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The two former OKC Thunder teammates, and longtime LA hoop friends are on an absolute tear by breaking records with historical streaks

OKC Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook and Houston Rockets James Harden have had extremely impactful seasons in their own ways, but they will be most memorable because of their current respective streaks. While no one can really match the statistical dominance of Wilt Chamberlain‘s career, both Westbrook and Harden are knocking the NBA great’s door. Westbrook just surpassed Chamberlain’s streak for consecutive games with a triple-double (10 games) last Thursday, while Harden has tied mighty Wilt with 31 consecutive games with 30 points or more.

Due to the shockingly different style of play of the 1960s NBA compared to today’s league, these streaks are an eye-popping anomaly. For comparison, in the 1961-1962 NBA Season, the points per game average for NBA teams was 118.8 (league leader with 125.4 PPG), with a field goal average of 42.6 percent. Currently, the league scoring average is standing at 110.7 points per game (league leader with 115.6 PPG), with an average field goal of 46.1 percent. Despite the league’s infatuation with space and pace, it is still noticeably trailing behind the 1960s NBA.

The Brodie’s Impact

Russ has been incredible this year impacting the OKC Thunder’s win success. He is still the best rebounding guard by a  country mile (only guard in the top 20 rebounding leaders), leads the league in assists (11.2 assists), and continues to collapse defenses with his elite athletic ability. Westbrook is sustaining his streak with his pure relentlessness.

To nab a triple-double, it requires a player to be engaged mentally for 48 minutes, exerting effort on every play where he is in reach of the action. Additionally, plenty of things have to go right in a game: making accurate passes with consistency, teammates finishing plays, boards falling your way, and ultimately hitting your own shots. It is incredibly taxing and at times unpredictable, but Westbrook has enshrined himself as a player who impacts the game every single night.

He is on track to average a triple-double for three straight years.

The Beard bringing the fire

James Harden has been a scorching scoring machine, practically leading his team to wins via scoring. Typically, he has been regarded as a combo guard (even a point guard) due to his dynamic vision. But this season, he has averaged a career-high 24.4 shot attempts, averaging the highest scoring average in over 30 years since Michael Jordan in 1987.

He has had to shoulder the load for the short-handed Houston Rockets, who have been hampered with the injury bug. Impressive streak notwithstanding, scoring is an aspect of the game that is directly controlled by an individual. Particularly with the Rockets, Harden has the greenest of lights in shot attempts and will continue to as they ride his greatness into the playoffs.

So whose streak will likely extend further?

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In order for Westbrook to extend his streak, he must contribute in multiple categories while Harden needs to concentrate on one. Sure, scoring 30 points a night is no walk in the park but the Rockets offense is totally centered around The Beard’s ability to score the rock. Coach Mike D’Antoni is an offensive genius, cleverly designing a game plan to magnify Harden’s elite offensive ability ensuring his success.

Russ leans heavily on every part of his being to score, rebound, assist while being the engine that drives Oklahoma City. At 6’3, Westbrook must play among the trees to secure rebounds, score at the cup and find the open man while playing at 100 miles an hour.

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For this reason, it is more reasonable to expect Harden’s streak to continue on further than Russell Westbrook’s.