Welcome to The Blog About Nothing. It’s the 7th of April, and in the sporting world that means that the baseball season has just started, the NBA and NHL seasons are headed for the playoffs, and for football fans the NFL Draft is near. Good times. Good times for us all.
I sit here in spring like New York City, and I have to start off this blog by stating that these editions might be infrequent in the weeks to come. I’ve started a new chapter in my career, and even though I have time to blog after I come home from work, I’m typically mentally exhausted by the time I walk through the door and that definitely limits my productivity for anything extracurricular. Blogging does not pay the bills. Unfortunately.
This week, I’ll turn my attention to the aforementioned NBA. Some many moons ago, I blogged about how Russell Westbrook should ask out of Oklahoma City. I, like many others, were quick to surmise that without Kevin Durant, the Thunder would fall off the map and that Westbrook should seek greener pastures.
Well, one season later, I have to announce how very wrong my hot take was. Yes, the Thunder have fallen back in the win-loss column without Durant, but they are still a playoff team and Westbrook has done the unthinkable in leading them to that playoff spot. He has become our Oscar Robertson.
Oscar Robertson, the triple double machine, of the 1960’s is arguably one of the best players to play the game of basketball. Oscar scored, rebounded, and racked up assists at will. He may not have had the championships to show it, or had the superstar name recognition that players today have, but Oscar played the game effortlessly and beautifully.
That is how Russell Westbrook plays the game today. Westbrook scores at will, attacks the boards with abandon, and finds his teammates in scoring position. Russell is going to average a triple-double this season, and he is going to surpass Oscar’s record for most triple doubles in one season.
Yes, Russell Westbrook is going to average more than 10 points, assists, and rebounds for one season. Something that has not been done in over 50 years will happen this season, and it will happen for a player many thought would be unable to lead his team to the heights that he has this season.
Kevin Durant leaving for Golden State has freed up Russell to play the game. He no longer has another superstar to defer to. He is the man, and he is playing like one. He’s also playing like a player that knows that if he doesn’t perform, his team will not win.
When a superstar caliber player leaves a team that usually spells a death knell for that team. When LeBron James left Cleveland, the Cavs fell off a cliff. When he left Miami to go back to Cleveland, the Heat dropped games in the loss column. LeBron was a superstar, and even though he’s only one example, it is proven that teams tend to suffer when their big name player leaves their organization.
The Thunder? Yes, they will drop a handful of games in the loss column, but they are still the 6th seed in a tough Western Conference. I do not place any high odds on OKC going past the first round, but the fact that they got there is kudos enough.
They would not be there without the MVP candidate in Westbrook. Let me for the record state that if Westbrook is not given the MVP, it will be a travesty. Yes, James Harden is putting up similarly huge numbers with the Houston Rockets, and yes the Rockets will be a top 3 team in the West, but Harden should not win MVP.
I think voters would be hard pressed to overlook this historical season Westbrook is having, but stranger things have happened. However, I hope common sense prevails and that Westbrook is a unanimous choice. Scoring may be up in the NBA, and the game is played at a faster pace, but I don’t think we are going to see another player duplicate what Russell has done this season in the next handful of seasons.
I don’t think we’ll go 50 years between triple-double seasons, but I don’t think we are going to see this again next season or the season after that either. For that alone I think the appropriate thing to do is to reward brilliance and that is by honoring Russell Westbrook as the best player in the 2016-2017 season. He is your MVP.
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