Sometimes when a player is the second member of an All-Star duo, that player gets less recognition than they deserve, as is the case with Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook.
Westbrook is easily the most criticized member of the Thunder roster and often plays the role of the scapegoat when they lose. When they win, he quite often gets less credit than he deserves. A great example of this was the Thunder’s victory over the Phoenix Suns on Monday. OKC won 102-90 and Kevin Durant went off for 41 points resulting in him being given much of the credit for the team’s victory.
Now don’t get me wrong, Durant had an absolutely phenomenal performance but it went a little under the radar that Westbrook chipped in 36 points with eight rebounds, five assists and two steals to go along with it. That being said, I believe its time to send some recognition Westbrook’s way. Here’s a look at some numbers that show exactly the type of season Westbrook is having thus far.
Westbrook is averaging 22.4 points per game, which is sixth in the NBA and first among point guards. Durant and Westbrook are the highest scoring duo in the league combining for an average of about 51 points per game and OKC currently ranks at the top of the NBA in points per game at just over 105 and third in field goal percentage at just under 48 percent.
However, his ability to score is not the only reason he is so valuable to the Thunder and is far from the only reason he’s having such a great season. He is putting up impressive numbers in multiple statistical categories.
In the past, many fans and analysts have questioned his abilities to facilitate. He is currently averaging 8.3 assists per game, fifth in the NBA. According to basketball-reference.com, he assists on 41.3 percent of his teammates field goals when he is on the floor. He’s also eighth in the league (second among point guards) in player efficiency rating at 23.9.
To go along with his scoring and passing, Westbrook is averaging 5.3 rebounds; first among point guards and 2.03 steals, fourth in the NBA. He’s the only player in the NBA that ranks in the top ten in points, assists and steals.
In addition, his decision-making is improving as he is below his career average in turnovers. Although this does remain his achilles heel, he continues to show steady improvement in this area as he is only averaging 1.6 turnovers in the last five games. He’s also thrown in 15 double-doubles so far this season.
There are some people out there who think OKC would be better off without Westbrook. My question for them is how do you argue with stats like that?