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Russell Westbrook, the new king of the NBA triple-double

Russell Westbrook, the new king of the NBA triple-double

A player of overwhelming energy, Russell Westbrook (Washington Wizards) is the new leader in triple doubles in NBA history, surpassing the record held by the legendary Oscar Robertson for 47 years and long considered unattainable.

The Wizards star reached 182 career triple-doubles in Monday’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks (125-124).

At 32 years old, he still has a few seasons ahead of him to fatten his mark in this complicated statistic, which in recent years is ceasing to be a rarity due to the versatility of figures such as Westbrook himself, LeBron James or Luka Doncic.

A triple double is achieved when a player combines double digits in three categories in the same game, which are usually points, rebounds and assists, but can also be steals or blocks.

Westbrook has been able to put together some amazing combinations, like a triple-double surpassing 20 rebounds and 20 assists against Indiana a week ago, a mark previously achieved only by Wilt Chamberlain in 1968 and Westbrook himself in 2019.

A fierce competitor and physically gifted, the point guard has imposed such a fierce consistency in the statistics that he is already assured of finishing the season with a triple-double average for the fourth time in the last five years.

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Robertson is the only other player to have achieved a triple-double season once, 59 years ago.

– «You love him or you don’t love him» –

Noted by some for prioritizing his personal stats, Westbrook shows extraordinary effort and physical display every time he hits the court.

“He rebounds with energy in the midst of the pivots, disputes all the balls, usually crosses the court dodging players at full speed … They are almost 30 meters from basket to basket and this effort is often repeated”, describes the former French player and coach Jacques Monclar.

“He is an exceptional athlete but he also needs to be free. He does not like to share and the number of triple doubles also comes from there ”, underlines Monclar, current NBA analyst for BeIn Sports.

Despite his 13 years of NBA experience, Westbrook’s game continues to suffer from some precipitation, leading the league in turnovers this year at 4.9 per game.

«Yes, he is capable of ruining a game. Either you love him or you don’t love him, but he is still a unique player ”, emphasizes Monclar.

This year, Westbrook’s style is being key for the modest Wizards to occupy one of the places that give the right to play the ‘play in’ (playoff repechage) in the Eastern Conference.

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In the last 20 games, in which the point guard has added 17 triple doubles, the Wizards have reaped 15 victories that have propelled them to ‘play in’.

I hope it receives the recognition it deserves. It’s really huge what he’s doing, “said the legendary Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson to those who minimize the impact of Westbrook’s numbers for their teams.

“It is really huge what he is doing,” added ‘Magic’, which occupies the third position in the triple-doubles classification with 138, in statements to the digital media The Athletic.

In his long spell at the Oklahoma City Thunder (2008-2019) and the brief at the Houston Rockets (2019-2020), Westbrook failed to reach the NBA ring. In 2012 he had it close but lost to the Thunder in the Finals against LeBron’s Miami Heat.

“I don’t care what they think, but the fact that they think it’s unnecessary strikes me as funny,” Westbrook responded to his critics. “It wasn’t useless when Robertson and ‘Magic’ did it. When it’s me, they say it seems easy, but it’s not that easy to do.

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– Another NBA –

Changes in the pace, style of play and in the preparation of basketball players have led to a large increase in triple doubles in recent years.

Surpassing the hundred for the fifth consecutive year, this season there have been 134 triple doubles by 28 players so far.

“The game, being faster, means that there are more possessions. The triple double is achieved with the rhythm. The defenses (now) are a bit lax and that also helps the statistics, ”Monclar described.

“We pigeonhole players less into a single role. Like Westbrook, LeBron James is also the embodiment of this versatility ”as are many Europeans like Nikola Jokic, he notes.

“Finally,” Monclar concludes, “I don’t think there have ever been as many strong players as there are in the NBA right now. The general level is quite incredible.

And despite this competition, Westbrook has 36 triple-doubles this season, well above his closest competitor, Jokic (15), the big favorite for the MVP award.

“I’m sure that if everyone could do it, everyone would do it,” concluded the new historical leader of the category. (GG) (AFP)

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