Many people thought that, after Russell Westbrook resigned with the Oklahoma City Thunder, it would make perfect sense for Kevin Durant to re-up as well. However, Durant chose to leave the Thunder for a new journey with the Golden State Warriors. A lot of the Thunder fan base’s focus was shifted to hatred towards Durant. However as play began, the NBA and Thunder fans have noticed something different. Russell Westbrook is a man on a mission.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are 11-8 through 19 games, which has them sitting in 6th place in a stacked Western Conference. A lot of people would say this is where the Thunder should be. Yet I do not believe anyone thought we would be seeing such a performance out of Russell Westbrook. The UCLA product is doing everything for the Thunder. He has the 2nd most Points per Game (PPG) in the NBA at 30.9, he is one of two players averaging over 10 Assists per Game (APG) at 11.3 and he is the ONLY guard in the NBA averaging over 10 Rebounds per Game at 10.3. According to ESPN Russell Westbrook is averaging a triple-double later in the season than any player since Oscar Robertson in 1963-64. In 1963-64 Robertson won the MVP (Most Valuable Player) and averaged 31.4PPG, 11APG and 9.9RPG. Therefore, if Russell can average a triple-double or come very close I think there is no doubt he deserves the MVP this season.
Some people have been quick to question Westbrook, saying he is a ball hog and wants all the glory, but his coach sees it differently. In an interview with the Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski Thunder head coach Billy Donovan said “Westbrook wants to win at the highest level.” Donovan went onto talk about how Westbrook adjusted his game last season when Kevin Durant returned from injury. Donovan said people asked questions like, “how would the team work with two superstars?”, but Donovan knew Westbrook was too smart to not adjust his game. In doing so, Westbrook helped the Thunder nearly knock off the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs last season.
Those curious of Westbrook’s efficiency and impact on the Thunder thi season need only look at his advanced statistics. Westbrook has the highest usage rate in the NBA at 40%, 65.8% of his team’s assists, the 3rd highest player efficiency rating in the NBA at 30.71, and the most estimated wins added at 6.6. Consider that Thunder only have 11 wins, meaning Westbrook has added the majority of his teams wins. Insane.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will almost certainly not win a championship this year, but it is unfathomable as to where they would be without Westbrook. The season has just begun and we have seen insane performances out of him night after night. Westbrook is averaging a triple-double this season and has recorded a triple-double in eight games this season. Westbrook who has played 686 games in his career is tied with LeBron James at 45 career triple-doubles, good for sixth all-time. Consider, too, that it took James 1001 games reach that marks. We are truly witnessing one of the most valuable and versatile players in basketball’s history this season, as Westbrook is attempting to do whatever it takes to get his team a win. While there is a lot of uncertainty in the Thunder’s successes this year, one thing is for sure the Thunder will continue to rely on Westbrook to carry the load.
The Weekly Rap
- After a tough stretch the Raptors got back to their winning ways and have recorded victories in their last three games over the Rockets, Bucks and Sixers.
- The Raptors will need to up their intensity as they face the Grizzlies, Hawks, and Cavaliers during their upcoming home stand.
Top 5 NBA Power Ranking:
- Warriors (16-2)
- Golden State has won their 12 games and have scored at least 100 points in every game during that stretch, topped off by a 149 point barrage against the Lakers on Wednesday.
- Spurs (14-3)
- The Spurs have won nine in a row themselves, and are an NBA’s best 10-0 on the road. Coach Pop’s team is one of nine NBA teams who have allowed less than 100 points per game, as defense continues to be key for the Spurs.
- Cleveland (13-2)
- Kevin Love set the record for most points scored in the first quarter of an NBA game on Wednesday, dropping an astounding 34 points in that quarter alone. The Cavaliers escaped Philadelphia with a mere 4 point win, so this week had its ups and downs.
- Clippers (14-4)
- The Clippers had a bad week. After wins over Toronto and Dallas, the Clippers got roadblocked by the Pistons and then got humiliated by the Pacers. We will get to see what they are really made of on Thursday as they roll into Cleveland for a matinee with the Cavaliers.
- Raptors (11-6)
- The Raptors recently strung together three wins, the best of them all being that against a red-hot Rockets team led by James Harden. DeMar DeRozan continues to score at an insane pace with 29.2PPG and is shooting at a high clip of 48.1% from the field.
The Penalty Box
- The Florida Panthers made the largest overreaction move of the season thus far by firing head coach Gerard Gallant. The move came as Panthers’ management called the team’s performance “inconsistent” and “below expectations”, according to the Sun Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov. The Panthers have been without key players Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad for almost the entire season. GM Tom Rowe has taken over coaching duties
- The Las Vegas Golden Knights revealed their name and logo this past Tuesday, but not all went according to plan. The presentation had technical difficulties and created a few cringe-worthy soundbites from Golden Knights owner and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. Including Bettman calling Las Vegas a “true NHL city” in response to fans who were booing him.
Stars of the Week
- The Ottawa Senators have been hot as of late! After enduring a tough stretch the Sens rattled off wins against the Canadiens, Bruins, Hurricanes and Rangers this week. Craig Anderson played in all four games and was phenomenal, stopping 120 of 125 shots, good enough for a save percentage of .960. Mark Stone seems to have gained some traction offensively as he scored in three of the four Senator wins.
- The Lightning have been stuck in 3rd in the Atlantic, but no fault goes to Nikita Kucherov. He has 18 points in November (best in the NHL), along with 10 goals, a plus-10, three game-winning goals, and logging over 20 minutes of ice time per game this month.
NFL First Down & Three and Out
- First Down: The Wild AFC West: Sunday night saw a barnburner in Denver. A back and forth game that saw the Kansas City Chiefs score a late touchdown in the last minute of the 4th quarter, then convert a 2-point conversion. Then after trading field goals with 5 seconds left in OT Chiefs’ kicker Cairo Santos hit a clutch field goal from 34 yards, bouncing it in off the uprights to end this terrific game.
- Three and Out: The 0-16 Dream: The Cleveland Browns are 0-12… Fans are selling tickets to Browns’ games for less than $10… They have started five different quarterbacks this year… On the plus side they have a bye week to prepare for what is their best remaining chance at win, when they take on the Cincinnati Bengals on December 11th.
BONUS FOOTBALL: Painted Red & Black: The 104th Grey Cup was played on Sunday night and it was a classic! The Ottawa RedBlacks ran out to a shocking 27-7 lead, only to see the Calgary Stampeders charge back. A late clutch tackle by Abdul Kanneh of the RedBlacks saved them from a Stampeders’ touchdown. In overtime Ernest Jackson caught a touchdown to put the RedBlacks on top. Then the RedBlacks’ defense came up big stopping the Stamps and bringing the fGrey Cup back to Ottawa for the first time since 1976. Henry Burris was named MVP of the Grey Cup.
A Shift from Sports to Reality: A heartbreaking story has come out of South America today, as a plane carrying the majority of Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense crashed in Colombia killing almost all aboard the flight. The team was flying to Colombia for the Copa Sudamericana Final’s first leg against Atlético Nacional. Chapecoense has since released a statement expressing their sadness towards the situation. Atlético Nacional expressed their sentiments as well, and asked for Chapecoense to be effectively crowned champions. My thoughts and prayers are with all those involved or affected by this horrible situation.
What to watch this week?
- Tuesday: Maple Leafs at Oilers 9:00pm ET, Rockets at Jazz 9:00pm ET
- Wednesday: Grizzlies at Raptors 7:30pm ET, Sharks at Kings 10:30pm ET
- Thursday: Stars at Penguins 7:00pm ET, Clippers at Cavaliers 8:00pm ET, Cowboys at Vikings 8:25pm ET, Rockets at Warriors 10:30PM ET
- Friday: Cavaliers at Bulls 8:00pm ET, Canadiens at Sharks 10:30pm ET
- Saturday: Capitals at Lighting 7:00pm ET, Hawks at Raptors 7:30pm ET, Lakers at Grizzlies 8:00pm ET
- Sunday: Canadiens at Kings 3:00pm ET, Sunday Night Football Panthers at Seahawks 8:30pm ET
- Monday: Senators at Penguins 7:00pm ET, Cavaliers at Raptors 7:30pm ET, Thunder at Hawks 7:30pm ET
Special thanks to Geoff Marlowe for helping with the editing work and a big thank you to you the reader for taking your time to read my work! Appreciate it! Hope you continue to read along, if you have any suggestions/comments/questions, please feel free to inbox me or talk to me on Twitter @sassysaslove.