Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook is on his way to being the first player since Oscar Robertson to average a triple-double for an entire NBA season. Westbrook is averaging 31.4 points, 10.6 rebounds and 10.1 assists in 61 games this season. He is currently leading the league in scoring and is in the MVP conversation along with former teammate and Houston Rocket point guard James Harden. But one Hall of Fame player feels that Westbrook’s quest for triple-doubles is hurting his team.
After the Thunder’s five point loss against the Portland Trail Blazers last night, a game that saw Westbrook score 45 points, grab eight rebounds, and dish out four assists, the ‘Inside the NBA’ crew discussed Westbrook’s game and his historic season. During which, Hall of Fame forward Charles Barkley fired up the crew by saying that the team would be better off if Westbrook did not try to get triple-doubles.
“I understand he wants to average a triple-double, but with the additions they have made, this team could be better.” Barkley said in regards to Westbrook.
Barkley also brought up several interesting examples of players going for triple-doubles to the detriment of their teams. Including one of the best of all time, Michael Jordan.
“Michael Jordan was the best player ever, when he was averaging 38 points a game, his team was not as good.” Barkley explained.
This is a very interesting take because the Thunder’s percentage to win drastically changes when Westbrook notches a triple-double. The team has a 80% win percentage when Westbrook has a triple double, compared to a 36.6% win percentage when he fails to have one.
The timing of Barkley’s stance was also intriguing because it came after a game where Westbrook did not appear to be gunning for a triple-double. Although he was way pass double figures in the category of points, he had eight rebounds and only had four assists. If anything, one could say Westbrook was trying to score more points in the game, which could have had an impact on the four other Oklahoma City starters only having 12 points on just 4-11 shooting. He was also one of just three Oklahoma City Thunder players who scored in double figures, with Taj Gibson scoring 15 points and Enes Kanter scoring 18.
The loss also ended the Thunder’s five game winning streak but they are still in a decent spot in the Western Conference. They are currently the 7th seed in the playoffs and are just two games behind the Utah Jazz for the 4th seed in the conference. The team will be in action again tonight as they take on the Phoenix Suns. Westbrook will attempt to score 40 points for the fourth straight game and will also try to get his 31st triple-double of the season.
Pictures courtesy of NBA Skits, Slam Magazine, and the Oklahoma City Thunder