There isn’t a more entertaining individual in today’s NBA than Russell Westbrook. With six straight triple doubles, Russell Westbrook’s “I Hate Kevin Durant Revenge Tour” has been even more spectacular than anyone could’ve imagined. The never-ending motor, tenaciousness and ability to will his Thunder squad to victories certainly has vaulted Westbrook into the MVP discussion.
25 percent of the way through the season, Westbrook is averaging an unfathomable 31.0 points, 11.3 assists, 10.9 rebounds and 1.3 steals. On pace to join Oscar Robertson as the only other player in NBA history to average a triple double over an entire season, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where Westbrook completes the feat but doesn’t take home the trophy.
However, as has been the case throughout Westbrook’s career, the eye test and his stat line greatly overstate his value.
Westbrook is averaging 5.6 turnovers per game. He’s shooting 42.7 percent from the field, and 33.3 percent from beyond the arc. He ranks 49th in assist-to-turnover ratio and has posted a negative defensive real plus-minus rating (-0.80). The former UCLA Bruin also has a 41.0 percent usage rate, which would easily be the highest figure in NBA history.
The high usage has translated to inefficient production, inflating Westbrook’s stats to historic levels. Of course, this has always been the downfall of Westbrook - relentless energy, a killer mentality and unmatched athleticism at the point guard position that doesn't translate to efficiency.
Last Sunday’s home game against the New Orleans Pelicans served as a perfect example. Westbrook had 28 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists while leading his Thunder to a victory. The issue though? He also had 10 turnovers (giving him a rare quadruple double) and needed 23 shots to score his 28 points.
There’s nothing wrong with marveling at the unprecedented numbers Westbrook is managing to put up, but in today’s age of advanced analytics, don’t be surprised to see LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant or Chris Paul holding the MVP trophy instead.
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