Oscar Robertson’s 1961-62 season, when he averaged a triple-double, is known as the NBA’s gold standard for versatility. Russell Westbrook’s current campaign may be even better.
Westbrook posted his 16th triple-double of the year when he went for 26 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists during Monday night’s road victory over the Raptors. He’s now just one triple-double away from matching Magic Johnson’s total of 17 in a single season, the most anyone has had over the past 30 years.
As ESPN’s Royce Young writes, the Thunder are winning every time Westbrook goes for a triple-double, too.
Oklahoma City is 16-0 in those 16 games when Westbrook goes for at least 10 in three categories. It’s quite a feat, and even though he scored more last year, garnering his first and only scoring title by season’s end, it would be tough to argue that this season has been anything other than the best of his career.
Actually, with all the numbers Westbrook is posting this season, it may be almost unnecessary to compare his 2015-16 to Robertson’s famous triple-double year. ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh lists many of those reasons in his column from Tuesday morning. Still, we’ve seen past seasons that rival or surpass Robertson’s all-timer since he put up those numbers back when the game was inordinately fast and thus was easier to pad the stats with more possessions.
Comparing Russ to Robertson may look the best, but in actuality, we’ve seen plenty of seasons better than the Big O’s (on a per-possession basis, as Haberstroh compared them in the above tweet and article) over the past 50 years.
Let’s rehash: Robertson averaged 26.7 points, 9.9 assists and 10.8 rebounds per 100 possessions during 1961-62.
LeBron James has blown those per-possession stats out of the water multiple times. Michael Jordan, though he never had a season in which all three of points, rebounds and assists were better than Robertson’s, came darn close in dimes and boards a few times while scoring at a rate that was 13 or 14 points more per 100. The perennially underappreciated Fat Lever posted numbers in 1986-87 that were almost identical to Robertson’s. Jason Kidd had seasons during which the rebounds and assists leapt over Robertson’s, though the scoring was a bit lower.
That doesn’t discredit Westbrook. In fact, it does the opposite.
He’s not just having a season that compares with Robertson’s most famous one. He’s also throwing up numbers that compete with the best of LeBron and M.J.
There’s no one quite like Russ.