By James Gleason (@Gleasonavenue)
The NBA is a pretty star driven league, and has been for a good while. Yes there are 5 players on the court all with some level of amazing nba talent, but few teams have real star studded, no doubters superstars players on their teams that they can lean on. Players that can carry a team of role players and 10 day contracts to the top or near the top of their respective conferences. The Cavs have Lebron, the Pacers have Paul George ( though for how long who knows) The Spurs have Kawhi Leonard, the Celtics have Isiah Thomas and the OKC Thunder have this machine of destruction called Russel Westbrook. A man on a mission to prove doubters wrong and, although he won’t admit it, is on a revenge tour of the decade after his teammate Kevin Durant left him in the dust to join the megazord known as the Golden State Warriors. If this is what pissed of Russ looks like it is a damn exciting thing to watch, even if his team struggles in the meantime.
I can’t really remember a time when a player had or has to do literally everything for his team to have a chance to win. He is the first player since Oscar Robertson to average a TRIPLE DOUBLE for a season, he almost beat the record for triple doubles in a season, and in a year where resting dudes is a trend that is such an “issue” that the NBA offices had to do something about it, Russ played near all and every game for the Thunder missing just one in a 81 games played season, and this is after playing 80 the season before. He is making it almost so personal against every opponent that faces him on the court, it is a one man wrecking crew in OKC and it has been an amazing story to watch this year.
He has the highest usage percentage of his career at 41.7 percent, so his team really relies on him for offence. They need him to be the driving force for points and valuable possessions, they are almost 11 points worse offensively when he is on the bench, sitting at 100.9 ORtg when he sits compared to 111.5 ORtg when he is playing. The Thunder basically look like a summer league team without Russ, which sometimes makes it more frustrating when he is playing poorly. The Thunder can’t sit him because guys like Victor Oladipo, while offensively good can’t carry a team enough to fill that void. It’s a joy to see Russ put up these numbers day in and day out, but also shows how much the Thunder rely on him to be the offensive wildman that he is.
The Thunder also struggle moving the ball without Russ, their offence stutters and with no real ball handler they lack any real movement and flow to their game. It’s not a huge gap like the ORtg numbers, but a 2 point drop from 53.8 to when he is playing, to 51.6 in terms of AST percentage when he sits can tell that the Thunder have no offensive flow.
Russel Westbrook has been a man on a mission this year, and whether he admits it or not his crusade of triple doubles and 50 point games has been a huge part of it. His team sometimes struggles when he shoots too much, and struggles heavily when he is off the court or not involved in their offence. Russ has to do basically everything to give his team a chance even if it means the Team maybe struggling in him doing so. It’s on Westbrook to make better plays in the post-season against the Rockets, but also on the Team to realize that if Russ doesn’t do almost everything that it gives them a chance to be out of the playoffs earlier than they wanted to be. Westbrook is my MVP choice in a tight tight MVP race in 2016-17. His team is the West Nets without him, and what he has done to the League while on a path of destruction and retribution is too hard to give notice to. Like when Kendrick Lamar drops a new album and there is one real mean song, pissed off Westbrook is the best Westbrook. It provided a season to remember and gave a season for Russ to remember as he claims his first ever NBA MVP.