Russell Westbrook and the Curious Case of the Triple-Double Era in Modern NBA

Published 03/31/2021, 10:47 PM EDT
Dec 29, 2020; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook (4) reacts after a shot against the Chicago Bulls during the first half at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports


If not for just one missed assist against the Knicks, Russell Westbrook almost had four consecutive games scoring a triple-double. His scoring abilities do not necessarily reflect on the Wizards’ ranking, but he has been undeniably extraordinary.

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Still, the criticism of his name has continued ever since the Orlando Bubble, and it is not seeing a stoppage. He has always faced heat for not putting up numbers when they matter the most.

In fact, the star finally had to release a page-long response for his haters. But is it about the hate on him or the decreasing value of hyped numbers in the modern NBA? 

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Nets’ Kevin Durant drives to the basket as Wizards’ Russell Westbrook defends at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Russell Westbrook has had enough 

In the last three games for the Wizards, the 6’3” point guard averaged 25.6 points, 16 rebounds, and 15 assists. These were the three-game figures that only legendary Wilt Chamberlain had ever matched.

That’s a telling comparison to speak for the greatness of Russell Westbrook, but nothing that could convince Stephen A. Smith.

The reputed NBA Analyst, after Russ’ performance, said in an interview, “Westbrook’s numbers last night mean absolutely nothing to me because, even though that’s great numbers, that’s what Westbrook can do. We all know this. He’s a former league MVP. He’s the most athletic point guard we have ever seen in NBA history. It’s the same stuff every year.”

Now, this praise coupled with downplaying Brook’s achievements did not go well with the star.

The 32-YO said in another interview, “I don’t like to go back and forth about people. But one thing I won’t allow to happen anymore is let people create narratives and constantly talking s— for no reason about me because I lay it on the line every night. And I use my platform to be able to help people all across the world. Nobody can take that away from me. I’ve been blessed to be able to have a platform to do it. A championship won’t change my life. I’m happy. I was a champion once I made it to the NBA. I grew up in the streets.”

Read AlsoRussell Westbrook Details the Impact Kobe Bryant Had on Him Growing Up

Are the triple-doubles losing their sheen?

From Stephen A’s arguably heartless remark, one other angle that comes out is the losing worth of triple-doubles. These 10/10/10 are now getting more commonplace than ever, and data proves it.

Back in 2011-12, there were only 18 triple-doubles in the entire regular season. This year, it has seen at least a 700% growth from that minuscule figure, and that’s a humongous leap.

Today, the NBA world has Luka Doncic, James Harden, and Russ as the flag bearers of dropping that figure twice a week or more. However, all the three aforementioned names are yet to win a championship. So, does that mean their triple-doubles are worth nothing and that one can easily put them aside as ‘obvious’ numbers? Would that not dampen the ambitions of future players and make them run for rings rather than setting a higher bar of performance?

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Russ covered all of that and much more in his retaliation against Stephen A. The Wizards’ player has been averaging in triple-doubles in the last 20 games he played.

Oftentimes, he missed Bradley Beal in the squad and did all the heavy lifting alone. That, alongside his comments, must count as a big plus.

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So, who do you think made more sense, Mr. Smith or Mr. Brook? Help us know your opinion in the comments.

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Sourabh Singh

1431 articles

Sourabh Singh is an NBA sports analyst for EssentiallySports, who has been working with the site since May 2020. Prior to this, he functioned as Managing Editor at WittyFeed, followed by a stint at Decathlon. The Sports Management graduate leads an active lifestyle, veering to the mountains for off-trail adventures.

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