Wizards v/s Thunder 03/14/11
No one can argue that Russell Westbrook was the triple-double king this year, and there are only a few people who would dare to make the (incorrect) argument that he is not.
With 42 triple-doubles this year, Westbrook set the single season record, breaking the previous record set by Mr. Triple-Double, Oscar Robertson.
Westbrook was the only player other than Robertson to average a triple-double over an entire season. Westbrook also led the NBA in scoring this year, averaging 31.6 points per game.
During the 1961-62 season, Robertson scored 30.8 points per game, which was not even close to the League lead, as that was the season Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in a game and averaged 50.4 points per game.
When comparing Westbrook’s and Robertson’s seasons, the stats may point to Robertson’s being better, but when you dig deeper, Westbrook’s season is much more stellar.
While Robertson led the League in assists at 11.4 per game and averaged 12.5 rebounds per game, Westbrook only averaged 10.4 assists and 10.7 rebounds per game.
While both of these stats are lower for Westbrook, and their points per game are even, Robertson played 44.3 of the 48 minutes per game, while Westbrook only played 34.6 minutes per game.
If Westbrook had played as many minutes as Robertson, he would have averaged an astounding 13.3 assists, 13.7 rebounds and 40.5 points per game.
If that comparison is not enough, the game was very different when Robertson played compared to today.
Games were much more fast-paced and offensively oriented in those days, with teams averaging more than 20 more possessions per game. That is the reason a player like Wilt Chamberlain could score 100 points in a game, so the offensive stats for that season must be taken with a grain of salt.
If both of these factors are accounted for, Westbrook would average 16 assists, 16.4 rebounds and 48.6 points per game, which would be by far the best all-around season in NBA history.
While it is obvious that Westbrook’s season is better than Robertson’s, some people argue that Westbrook does not deserve to be the League’s Most Valuable Player. People argue that James Harden is more deserving of the award, as they believe Westbrook only gets stats by hogging the ball.
While Westbrook did have the highest usage percentage, which measures the percentage of the time a player has the ball for his team, he also had the highest assist ratio, which measures what percent of a team’s field goals a player assists on.
Some people argue that Westbrook turns the ball over too much, but he averages fewer turnovers per game (5.4) than Harden does (5.7) and has the ball more often for his team. Westbrook can more easily put up points while keeping his teammates involved.
One of the final arguments that people make against Westbrook for MVP is the fact that despite his best efforts, his team was a middle-of-the-pack team in the Western Conference. That argument is completely absurd to me, as Westbrook cannot be blamed for the loss of Kevin Durant in the offseason. The Oklahoma City Thunder was banking on Durant’s return, and when he chose to go to the Golden State Warriors, the Thunder did not have any backup plans.
That left Westbrook without any backup in an era where all the top teams have at least two, if not more, superstars. The team relied on Westbrook to carry them every single night out, as was displayed in their records with and without his recording a triple-double.
In games where Westbrook recorded a triple-double, the Thunder were at 33-9, which, over the course of a full 82 games, would have been a 64-18 record, the second-best record in the NBA this year and the 25th best record in the history of the NBA.
In games during which Westbrook did not record a triple-double, they were at an abysmal 14-26, which is good for the fifth-worst record in the NBA this year.
That disparity shows just how valuable Russell Westbrook was to his team this year. That is why he deserves to win this year’s MVP award. In addition, I believe his year should go down as the best all-around year in the history of the NBA.