Point Guard Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder has been on quite the tear lately since capturing the 2015 NBA All-Star MVP when he scored 41 points and proved himself to be the brightest star on the biggest stage. Since then, the Oklahoma City Thunder have been in a fight for their playoff lives trying to hold off the New Orleans Pelicans and the Phoenix Suns for the final playoff spot in the deep and dreaded Western Conference. While MVP and fellow superstar Kevin Durant has been nursing a host of injuries, including a foot that he had surgery on in the offseason, Russell Westbrook has put the team on his back and has been on a statistical roller coaster the last few games.
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook became the first player since LeBron James in 2009 to post three consecutive triple-doubles on Friday night in a 115-112 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. Westbrook scored 40 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and dished out 11 assists. That followed previous games in which he recorded 39-14-11 and 20-11-10 in those three categories, respectively.
Those are astronomical numbers that Russell Westbrook has put up and he has been doing it all with an anger and passion that rarely appears during the long grind of the 82 game NBA schedule. Russell Westbrook plays like a center trapped inside of a little man’s body. Few guards in NBA history have been able to attack the rim with the athleticism, agility, and power of Westbrook. Westbrook does not care who is waiting for him underneath the basket as he will either rise up over you, or contort his body gracefully to avoid any contact at all.
In a game where big men patrol the paint, Westbrook is tough as nails and is able to withstand severe physical punishment. The other night against the Portland Trailblazers, Westbrook received an inadvertent knee to the face by teammate Anthony Roberson. Westbrook appeared to be a bit dazed by the play, but proceeded to pick himself up off the floor and head down to the other end of the court to play defense. TV cameras were able to spot a huge dent on the side of Westbrook’s face that will eventually require surgery. The man is fearless.
Critics over the years have been sour over Westbrook’s unpredictable and brash style. They said the Thunder will never win with a loose cannon like Westbrook running point guard. However, after an uneven start to the season due to injuries to Westbrook and Durant, the Thunder find themselves poised to make the playoffs once again, and with the numbers Westbrook has put up over the last few weeks, he has vaulted himself in MVP contention. No opposing point guard wants to face Westbrook these days, and no team at the top of the Western Conference wants to see the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the playoffs.
Contributing writer Jasen Sousa for Premier Hoops is the author of a number of poetry and fiction books for young people. Jasen has an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and is a life-long participant and fan of the game of basketball.