Monday 11 December 2017 / 11:03 AM

WHY RUSS’ RECORD-BREAKING RUN IS NO SUPRISE

The Oklahoma City Thunder are almost 20 games into the NBA season, and Russell Westbrook is averaging a triple-double.

To be exact, Westbrook is averaging 30.9 PPG, 11.3 APG, and 10.4 RPG. As amazing as this is, I can’t say I’m surprised. Here’s why:

Westbrook is Built for Success

Russell Westbrook stands at 6’3 and weighs 187 pounds. He’s built like a small forward but plays like a power forward. Unfortunately for every point guard, a position with an average height of 6’0, he’s also a point guard. Oh, to add this into the mix, he’s also the fastest player in the NBA.

His frame and pure athletic ability is enough to create critical mismatches against the average NBA point guard. Stick him against any point guard, chances are he will use his size to his advantage to either elevate over the defender for the jumper, or just run through them for an and-one play.

The 28-year-old’s speed makes him an explosive player. One second he’s at half court, moments later he’s hanging from the rim and headed to the free-throw line. It’s hard to stop Westbrook on the fast-break transition because he sets a pace for the game few can keep up with.

Westbrook’s size and speed have been a huge asset to get defensive rebounds, while his aggressive style of play is a huge reason he always seems to get a second-chance shot at the rim.

He is OKC – and the Thunder Know It

When James Harden was traded to the Rockets, it was Durant’s city. Sure, Westbrook played phenomenal basketball, but there always has to be a Robin to a Batman. When Durant left for Golden State, Westbrook became the lone king of Oklahoma City. If it wasn’t for Westbrook, the Thunder would be severely lacking on offensive threats. The Thunder would be like the Orlando Magic, barely breaking 90 points a game.

As the biggest talent and ego on the block, it’s Westbrook territory. This essentially gives Westbrook a sort of Kobe ball-hog free pass to put up as many points as he wants, without having to answer to any other player.

The reason this has been working so well is that Westbrook, a point guard, by nature has to move the ball around and engage his teammates. With Victor Oladipo, Steven Adams and virtually any player on the bench, Westbrook has a decent arsenal to dish out passes to.

Westbrook is in a Position for Success

When Durant left and reduced the Thunder’s Championship odds to single digits, everyone felt bad for Westbrook. On the other side of the coin, Durant leaving might have been the best thing that could have happened to Westbrook.

For the 2015-2016 season, Westbrook’s contract gave him $16.7m for the year. For the 2016-2017 season, Westbrook’s contract put him at $26.5m for the year, and two more subsequent years at $28.5m and $30.5m. That’s almost a $10 million dollar increase in a year.

So not only is Westbrook laughing his way to the bank, and his team is not only encouraging him to develop into the best athlete he can be, they are paying him a huge chunk of change to do so. Imagine what that does for Westbrook’s confidence as a player (as if it could be any higher) and his equity on the NBA free-agent market once his contract is up.

As a point guard, he’s also a huge bargaining chip to attract talent to Oklahoma City. OKC is only two good scorers away from being right back to being a Western Conference Finals threat.

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About the author

Alex Moskov

Alex has come on board with CBS as our basketball and gridiron expert, providing opinions and analysis from the bright lights of the NBA and NFL.

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