Since Russell Westbrook first averaged a triple-double five years ago, the nine-time All-Star has become linked to Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson. When Westbrook approaches or breaks a record involving triple-doubles, Robertson is usually the previous holder. But after another historic performance Monday from Westbrook, another legend coach Scott Brooks brought up about the star Wizards guard. Specifically, Brooks said Westbrook will be the second-best point guard of all-time — behind only Magic Johnson.
“What he does, no point guard has ever done it,” Brooks said of Westbrook. “Nobody.”
Brooks’ ranking of point guards can — and will — be picked apart. But the Wizards coach was correct in one aspect following his team’s 154-141 win over the Indiana Pacers: Practically no one putting up numbers like Westbrook. Westbrook recorded just the third game in NBA history in which a player dished at least 20 assists and grabbed 20 rebounds — joining a prestigious group that includes Wilt Chamberlain … and himself.
Yes, Westbrook’s 14-point, 24-assist, and 21-rebound performance in Monday’s win wasn’t even the first time the 32-year-old paired at least 20 assists and 20 rebounds. This time, however, he set a career-high on the glass.
In the process, Westbrook totaled his 178th career triple-double — making him now just three games short of matching Robertson’s all-time mark. In fact, as noted by The Associated Press’ Tim Reynolds, Westbrook now has more triple-doubles than the late Kobe Bryant had double-doubles (176),
The 6-foot-3 point guard has averaged 21.9 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 11 assists per game so far this season, which will make this the fourth time in five seasons that he’ll finish averaging a triple-double. According to ESPN, Westbrook could average 0, 0, and 0 over the last seven games and still hit the marker.
The numbers are beyond absurd at this point. Westbrook’s teammates resort mostly to laughing when asked about him — because what else is there left to say? Still, when Westbrook performs at this level when his vision and athleticism can change games single-handedly, the Wizards are getting the player they imagined when they traded John Wall for him in December.
Scratch that. He might even be better.
“Me personally, I feel like I’m the best playmaker in the league,” said Westbrook, whose 24 assists tied a career-high, “because I’m able to do things I think nobody else can do.” Westbrook’s legacy will likely be debated even after he retires. There’s no player more polarizing in the game right now: His gaudy stats but lack of championships are cannon fodder for sports debate shows. “First Take” host Stephen A. Smith riled up.
Westbrook’s supporters in late March when the ESPN personality declared Westbrook’s historic numbers mean “absolutely nothing” because of the former MVP’s spotty postseason history. Westbrook rarely engages in discussion regarding the lasting impression he’ll leave on the league. He has said he’s more concerned about his off-court legacy — the way he can impact the communities around him through charity — than on-court.