Russell Westbrook has everybody's attention. The Oklahoma City Thunder point guard is averaging a triple-double for the first time since Oscar Robertson did it and has registered a triple-double in each of his last six games, a streak that only Robertson, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain have matched.
On Wednesday morning, Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James, who is now three behind Westbrook on the all-time triple-double list, told reporters that Westbrook's absurd averages are sustainable.
"Westbrook can do it," James said, via ESPN. "He's capable of doing it. He's showing it. He's like the Energizer Bunny, man. He just doesn't get tired. He doesn't get tired, and when you have that passion for the game, too, as well, it's very doable. The game has definitely changed a little bit. It's more, it's almost feeling like back in, like, the '80s, you know, when teams were putting up 145 and 135 and more possessions and more shot attempts -- obviously, they weren't shooting as many 3s, but it was a lot of possessions. So with that being said, with his athleticism, him being able to get those rebounds, he handles the ball for the majority of the game for OKC so he's gonna get the assists and I think he's averaging nine free throws a game. He's going to make seven or eight of those a game and obviously he's going to get one bucket -- he's going to get 10 points. That's the easy thing for him. So it's very doable."
James knows a thing or two about triple-doubles, so it would be unwise to argue with him. He also makes good points -- with how gifted Westbrook is and how much he handles the ball for OKC, the points and assists should take care of themselves. The question here is whether he can keep up his rebounding -- he is averaging 10.9 boards, 3.1 more than his previous high mark, set last season.
Before seeing Westbrook pile up these rebounds, I would not have believed that any 6-foot-3 player could average double figures in that category. The way the Thunder play, though, he could keep it up. Often, their wings and bigs are focused on boxing out their opponents so Westbrook can run in, grab the rebound and sprint the other way. He's probably the only person in the league who has enough energy to do this all the time.
It's also notable that James brought up the number of possessions in today's game, as that is what makes Westbrook's numbers so staggering. Oklahoma City averages 99 possessions per game, while Robertson's 1961-62 Cincinnati Royals averaged 124.9 possessions per game. If the league still played at that pace, then James would have averaged a triple-double by now, too.