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Russell Westbrook passes Gary Payton for 10th in all-time assists

The 9-time All-Star becomes just the third active player to crack the top 10 in all-time assists.

Russell Westbrook drives to the basket against the Brooklyn Nets on Jan. 30, 2023.

Russell Westbrook’s statistical dominance saw him climb another rung in the NBA record books Monday night. The former Kia MVP passed Hall of Fame guard Gary Payton for 10th in all-time assists during the Lakers’ 121-104 loss in Brooklyn, making him the third active player in that group.

Westbrook’s groundbreaking production saw him become just the second player in league history to average a triple-double in a season, a feat he achieved three times after Oscar Robertson alone bore that single-season standard for over 50 years.

“In the NBA, I never dreamt of being in this position, nor getting to the point to where I’m next to some of the greats,” Westbrook said, “and I’m just truly grateful and thankful for an opportunity to keep playing at the highest level and I don’t take any of it for granted.”

This latest milestone comes in a much different role than his MVP days, as Westbrook has become the sixth man for a Lakers team fighting to return to the playoffs.

The fourth overall pick by the then-Seattle SuperSonics in 2008, Westbrook flourished into an All-NBA guard alongside Kevin Durant and James Harden in Oklahoma City. When they left via free agency and trade, respectively, Westbrook shouldered even more of the load for the Thunder.

His latter years have seen Westbrook bounce from the Thunder to the Houston Rockets (2019-20), Washington  Wizards (2020-21) and most recently Los Angeles. Westbrook led the league in assists in 2020-21 (his lone season with the Wizards), marking his third assists crown after twice winning the scoring title with OKC.

A nine-time All-Star and member of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team, Westbrook now needs fewer than 100 assists to pass Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas (9,061) next on the all-time assists list. He trails Oscar Robertson — the last player to average a triple-double before Westbrook did it in 2016-17 — by 916 assists for No. 8 and Lakers legend Magic Johnson (10,141) by 1,170 assists.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.