Russell Westbrook’s star continues to rise with every game the Oklahoma City Thunder guard plays. From his first season in the league, it has been clear the 27-year-old is a special talent. However, his individual performances this season have been something to behold as he stuffs the stats sheet every night.
The 2015 Scoring Champion leads the league in triple-doubles with 12 - surpassing Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green in recent weeks - and his latest was a kind that has not been seen in the NBA for 32 years.
The four-time All-Star ended the win over the Portland Trail Blazers with 17 points, 16 assists, ten rebounds, one blocks and zero turnovers. It was the dimes and turnovers that wrote Westbrook’s name in history as he became the first player since Magic Johnson and Scott Skiles to record a triple-double with at least 16 assists without passing up the rock.
It is another feather in the cap for a player who, for the second season, would be pushing Stephen Curry close in the race for Most Valuable Player if it was not for the Warriors point guard’s superhuman form.
While Curry is known more for his shooting ability, it is Westbrook’s physical capabilities that have made him one of the most exciting players in the league to watch. His incredible athleticism produces numerous highlight plays on a nightly basis and is one of many reasons why the California native is considered one of the most well-rounded players in the NBA.
The Thunder star is closing in on his first double-double season and is currently averaging 24 points, 10.4 assists, 7.6 rebounds and 2.1 steals per 34.7 minutes on the hardwood.
Alongside Kevin Durant, he is hoping to lead the Western Conference franchise to their first championship ring having fallen at the final hurdle to the Miami Heat in 2012. However, it will not be an easy task for the Thunder to conquer a stacked conference.
They currently sit third, 15.5 games back from pace setters Golden State, and will have to come up against either the defending champions or the Spurs if they want to lift the Larry O'Brien trophy – unless a stunning miracle occurs in the early round of the playoffs. Their regular season record against the top two is not exactly glistening.
They were swept in the three-game series with the Dubs, falling to a spectacular Curry three during overtime in game two, but in the other outings, they were emphatically swept aside at the Oracle Arena.
Against the Spurs, it has been a different story; the series is currently tied at one game apiece with two remaining before the season’s end.
But it is playoff basketball and in high-pressure situations, it usually boils down to individual moments of brilliance. With Durant and Westbrook, the Thunder are not lacking in that. If the two-time All-Star MVP can carry his form into the postseason, there is always a chance. Stranger things have happened.