Oklahoma City Thunder guard and reigning Kia MVP winner Russell Westbrook locked up a triple-double average with five days to go in the 2016-17 campaign. He’s got another shot at that feat in 2017-18, but he’ll have to have a monstrous game of sorts on the season’s final night to do so again.
Westbrook is averaging 25.6 points, 9.9 rebounds and a league-leading 10.1 assists per game. To make up that 0.1 rpg deficit that’s keeping him from a triple-double average, Westbrook needs to grab 16 rebounds in Wednesday night’s season finale at home against the Memphis Grizzlies (8 ET, NBA League Pass).
So far this season, Westbrook has notched six games in which he had 16 or more rebounds, the last one coming on Monday night.
He got his 25th triple-double of the season (23 points, 18 rebounds, 13 assists) in last night’s 115-93 win against the Miami Heat, helping the Thunder lock up a playoff berth. Westbrook remains in fourth place on the all-time triple-doubles list with 104, but he is just three shy of passing Hall of Famer Jason Kidd for third place. Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson is the all-time leader in triple-doubles with 181.
In 2016-17, Westbrook entered an April 7 game against the Phoenix Suns averaging 31.8 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists. However, he was six assists shy on his overall season total from clinching the triple-double average. He totaled them by early in the third quarter.
That made Westbrook the first player since Robertson to average a triple-double. Robertson averaged 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists in 1961-62, setting a standard many considered unreachable in the modern era.
Robertson had a shot at doing what Westbrook seeks Wednesday, but the former Cincinnati Royals star missed out on back-to-back triple-double seasons by just seven rebounds in 1963-64.
In addition to averaging a triple-double in 2016-17, Westbrook passed Robertson in the record books in another aspect last season. He logged 42 triple-doubles in ’16-17, passing Robertson’s 55-year-old single-season mark with a triple-double against the Denver Nuggets on April 9. And, in a fitting bit of drama, Westbrook won that game vs. Denver with a 36-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer to cap Oklahoma City’s rally from 13 points down.
While the Thunder are assured of a playoff spot in 2018, much of the Western Conference playoff picture remains in flux. There was no word after last night’s win as to how much Westbrook might play in Wednesday’s finale, but the chance for history is there once again for the OKC superstar.